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The Necessary Beggar
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The Necessary Beggar

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Susan Palwick, author of the remarkable Flying in Place, now returns with a compelling new novel of a family cast out of an idyllic realm, learning to live in our own troubled world. With its richly imagined portrayal of a lost culture, complete with poetry and fables, traditions and customs, and its searing yet sympathetic view of own society as seen through new eyes, The ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Tor Books (first published October 1st 2005)
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Allison

Magic! This book is magic. It's the kind of book where you just want to give the author a Nobel Prize and let her rule the world because she just gets how it's supposed to be. Her book "Flying in Place" is a riveting, heartwrenching story of a young girl in a horrifying family situation. It was the kind of really good book that's really hard to read -- and I didn't even have children when I read it.
The Necessary Beggar is quite a different book. The family in question is colourful and close-knit
...more
Joe Hunt
I like this book fine ! (Only halfway through.)

I usually consider myself more of a Fantasy guy... It's a little science-fiction--but that's fine, too.

I started reading b/c read some review: "Takes place in Nevada..." I was like "Science Fiction in Nevada? That's where I live?" and "Interesting how she blends in some religion." I was like "Really?" (I happen to be a believer.)

So: the review was completely right--it is really interesting: how she takes some people from another world, exiled to Nev
...more
Julie
This is another book that, given the description of it, I would not have found interesting and picked up. I only picked it up and read it because Susan Palwick wrote it.

The premise is a family is sent into exile through a gateway so they end up in a refugee camp in Nevada in our near future. They have to learn English and how to get along in America -- and figure out how to get out of the refugee camp when they have no papers and are from no known country in the world.

So the book is about that,
...more
Heidi
This book is a Gem. It has just the right amount of everything in it; it's the beginning of perfect.

I don't remember why I picked The Necessary Beggar to read... probably because it was on one of NPR's suggested reading lists (it fits with the liberal agenda thing). Anyway, after having already checked it out from the library, I decided that I didn't think I'd like the story. So I came here to goodreads and read reviews about it and really decided that I wouldn't like it. There are very few Sci-
...more
Juushika
When one son is accused of murder, his entire family is exiled from their glorious city of Lémabantuk, sent to a new world—where they find themselves in the Nevada desert. A story of two cultures and faiths blending, The Necessary Beggar is unexpected magical realism, combining gritty but irreverent daily life with glimpses of sentimental magic. The novel has a number of faults, including out of place scifi elements and uneven pacing; nonetheless, it has thoughtful and intelligent (if overwrough ...more
Carol
This short sci-fi/magical realist novel is about an extended family who, because one of their members commits a heinous crime, is exiled from their world into more-or-less present-day America. They progress from a refugee camp to a comfortable life in suburban Reno, all the while trying to understand both the events that brought them there and the nature of their new home. While the plot does give a nod to the conventions of the successful immigrant narrative (the older generation finds artisan ...more
Marcia
I bought this book at the Dollar store, and it was definately worth a dollar (maybe even two or three). The writing was good in some parts, but down right laughable in others. While I found parts of the story and characters very compelling, other parts were rediculous and hard to stay interested in.. It was a very quick read, otherwise I probably would have gotten bored and put it down a long time ago. However I found the ending satisfying and was glad that I finished it. If you like romance and ...more
Elena Gaillard
A rarity: a one-novel science fiction novel, and I wish there were more to the story! The characters are all well-defined and distinct; the story brings us to the heart of the human condition and how society and culture envelop us and help us define ourselves, along with our relationships.
Carly R
Engaging and thought provoking read. The writing is heart wrenching and captivating. I particularly enjoyed the way the author didn't subscribe to any single genre. I would have liked more background about the land of Lémabantunk.
M—
Not a perfect novel, but a lovely one. This was such a well-told, heartbreaking book, but I didn't love it as much as I loved Flying in Place.

I need to bump Palwick's Shelter far higher on my TBR list. And I need acquire a copy of her short-story collection, The Fate of Mice STAT.
Bethany
This vaguely sci-fi, vaguely religious book is interesting. There were definitely times that I was confused about what was occurring, but I almost always figured it out. (The main exception to this is why, exactly, one of the characters dies and his soul inhabits a damp towel…) The Necessary Beggar is about a refugee family and their struggles to overcome their past; the main issue is that they are from another dimension rather than another country. Palwick has some interesting things to say abo ...more
Laura
Excellent tale of the refugee experience, chronicling the toll that adaptation takes and the hidden cost of secrets. When one of their number is exiled for murder, his extended family joins him in exile, stepping through the doorway to an unknown alternate dimension- ours.

Together, they must learn to adapt to this new world, first in a refugee camp and then in the larger world. The acculturation process is not an easy one for everything here is truly alien to them. The family strives to fit in
...more
Cheryl
Brilliant. Language, world-building, suspense, and charm. Engaging characters, even if just a little too simplistic. Themes not subtle - but still interesting & provocative. More like Literature than traditional SF, and yet not a difficult read at all. I would think it would be more widely enjoyed than the number of shelvings here indicates - and I will be looking for more by Palwick. I have already enjoyed her short stories in The Fate of Mice.
Mindy
Some graphic sexual situations that still bother me months later. That was very diappointing since I appreciated the ponderous character of the grandfather and what he had to say. Did not finish reading, mainly because the passionate relationship became based solely on sex and severly lacked trust--resulting in death and exile. Was afraid the book would condone those relationships despite the consequences (saying the consequences were tragic but there was nothing wrong with the journey that led ...more
Danielle
A great novel, with both substance and story. My husband and I chose this to read together based on the title, and were pleasantly surprised and what a good book it was.
It doesn't read nearly as sci-fi as the premise suggests (a family from another world transported here through a mystical portal). It's much more like a fictional middle eastern society than an alien one. The writing was good but not spectacular, but the characters were endearing and their plight interesting.
Mara
This is a hard book to classify. The sticker on the outside labels it science fiction and it is sort-of that because it is set in our reality with a few tweeks. It is more a philosophical exploration of Christianity, morality, acceptance, family love and honesty, wrapped up in an interesting story.
This would be a good book club read, although there are a couple of swear words scattered throughout the book.
Ben
I'm in the middle of reading it for the second time. Parts of it are so sad, but it's very sweet too. It'll probably make you cry if you're one of those watery types. It's about a family from another world that gets banished from their world when one of the young men is accused of murder. They walk through a door and end up in our Nevada about 10-20 years from now. I highly recommend it.
Wendy
Couldn't get into it, so slow to start and the bland description of acts that every reader would already understand since they were from our culture were tedious. I don't like the idea of zama being the golden child - maybe she wouldn't be if I finished the book - because it was so cliche. I was left saying so what and unable to keep reading.
Chris
The premise (critique of US society generally and of its treatment of refugees in particular through the eyes of a family of refugees from Fantasyland) is fraught with opportunities for heavy-handed triteness, but it's all done sensitively and with a lightness of touch and acuity of observation that make it as involving as it is persuasive.
Sarah
When Darroti, a young merchant in the city of Lemabantunk, is accused of murdering a highborn woman, he and his family are exiled to the unknown world that lies beyond a mysterious gate, where they encounter a world tormented by hatred and warfare. Alex Award. One of the best fantasies I've read this year.
Theresa
Wow short and meaningful- I loved this look at American life from the view of outsiders. Item was also a look at multiple viewpoints in a multi generational family. Secrets and lies create much of the drama in this story. The ending provides a very satisfactory closure.
Ann
A fun, thought-provoking book that's at least partly about adapting traditions and modes of thought to a foreign culture. I enjoyed it.
Sarah
Palwick is a wonderful writer who creates vivid characters and intelligent, engaging plots. This novel is almost, but not quite, a parable -- and it makes points in the way a parable does: quietly, unobtrusively, and unforgettably.
Joy
A family from another dimension is exiled to ours and ends up at a refugee camp in Nevada in the near-future. We see them adjust to life in the US and also, eventually, unravel the issue that brought them here.

VERY VERY good.
Julie
One of the most beautiful family stories I've ever read. The challenges the family face as they are exiled in a strange world (U.S.A.) test their close-knit bonds, and no one is perfect but there is a deep love.
Joant
Part science fiction, part fairy tale, part spiritual tale. I enjoyed this story of family grief, family love and acceptance. I especially loved the image of the towel that would not dry as it was filled with tears.
Beth Chandler
Amazingly original book about people from a world with a fascinatingly different society than ours, falling into a near-future United States and struggling to live as refugees in that culture.
Mandie
writing was eh...story line was amazing
Bailey Olfert
This story of crossing dimensions has just enough of an alien viewpoint to make us look differently at many things we take for granted about how things are. I enjoyed it tremendously!
Alexandra
Its been awhile since I read this book actually years but I still remember the impression it left on me. It takes a really well written story to stay with me like that and this one does.
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Susan Palwick is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she teaches writing and literature. Her first novel, Flying in Place (1992), won the Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Novel, presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.
More about Susan Palwick...
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“I realized then how much alike we were. Both of us looked backwards to a beloved time that was lost to us, a time where everything had been beautiful. Both of us looked forward to some time and place that would be better. And both of us were here, now, in a grim, unhappy time where little was as we wanted it to be. We lived in our memories and in our hopes, enduring the present because we had no other choice, and because we loved the people who lived here with us.” 3 likes
“He knows that kind of love. It is what he feels for Gallicina. It is the world reformed, made new, each time the lover sees the beloved's face. It is the miracle which makes the cosmos dance, which keeps the planets in their courses, which fuels the fire of the stars. It is salvation.” 2 likes
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