I was slightly disappointed in this novel. I was looking forward to some gender roles dissection, some controversial topics, someVery brief review...
I was slightly disappointed in this novel. I was looking forward to some gender roles dissection, some controversial topics, some illuminated insight into transgenderism... well, the book held some of those but, in my mind, the interesting bits were drowned in Jim's (the main character)various addictions (drug, alcohol, girls, etc.)
I really think I didn't approach this book correctly. ...more
I'm not quite sure what drove me to buy this book in particular. When I found out that Le Clézio had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last yI'm not quite sure what drove me to buy this book in particular. When I found out that Le Clézio had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last year, I felt that, as a French reader, I needed to have at least read him once. So I browsed my local bookstore's shelves and found this little piece entitled The African (I'm not sure what it's been translated as or even if it's been translated in English at all. I know some of his works have been, but I'm not sure about this particular one.).
I came to this book knowing absolutely nothing about the author's life or works and I was a bit worried that this might turn out into some colonial like type of narration. And boy was I wrong.
This short autobiographical narration deals mainly with the author's father: this authoritarian, withdrawn and solemn father figure who is a stranger in his own country, in his own family, though, as a doctor, he is entirely devoted to his patients. A man who refused to conform to western hypocrisy and formality and decided to practice medecine throughout the world, namely South America and Africa. A character who has been changed by war and all that he's witnessed and that the narrator only meets once he is 8 years old. They meet in a strange land, when the narrator moves with his mother and his brother to Nigeria to join his father.
A short (124 pages!) touching and intriguing story written in a non linear manner and illustrated with pictures taken from the author's own archives. A great introduction to an unknown writer for me and which allowed me to learn about the author's life and to become more familiar with his soft and poetic prose.
Debut novel by a very young author (barely 23 I believe). This was a light and refreshing read even though not much goes on. In fact, in terms of plotDebut novel by a very young author (barely 23 I believe). This was a light and refreshing read even though not much goes on. In fact, in terms of plot, it really resembles the pacing of real life. It's the story of a 30 something at a turning point in his life. He's given up on his job and doesn't quite feel up to joining the ranks of society... that is until his girlfriend throws him out aiming a shotgun at him because he fed the dog (whose name is Jean-Jacques) leftovers instead of proper dog food (yes, some people have issues). It's quite funny and some parts really had me laughing out loud. As young as he is, the author really has a distinctive voice and readers interested in contemporary French literature should really keep an eye out for his next books. ...more
This was an engaging, fast-paced young adult novel. Though it felt predictable at times and rushed at the end, it was enjoyable all the way through. IThis was an engaging, fast-paced young adult novel. Though it felt predictable at times and rushed at the end, it was enjoyable all the way through. I did feel that some of the cultural references made by the teenagers weren't really references and jokes nowadays teenagers would have or make but still, it didn't stop me from being entertained. ...more
A wonderful short novel about Tupac's influence on the African-American community, what he and his lyrics represented. A smart, complex and touching pA wonderful short novel about Tupac's influence on the African-American community, what he and his lyrics represented. A smart, complex and touching portrait of racial tensions and gender issues in the early nineties. Highly recommended to all....more
A wonderful new voice from the Caribbean, rich and original, which will enchant you at the beginning of each story. Highly recommended for those lookiA wonderful new voice from the Caribbean, rich and original, which will enchant you at the beginning of each story. Highly recommended for those looking for something fresh and new....more
Before properly reviewing this book, I have to mention two things.
First, this is not the sort of book I usually turn to. I admit that I mostly decideBefore properly reviewing this book, I have to mention two things.
First, this is not the sort of book I usually turn to. I admit that I mostly decided to check this out because it was translated by a friend of mine and that I wanted to have a better idea of what she worked on. That does not goes to say that I did not enjoy it. I think reading a outside of your comfort zone is always a positive experience.
Second, the French edition of this title does not exactly correspond to the original American edition which is entitled "Legend of a Suicide". "Sukkwan Island" is a novella part of "Legend of a Suicide" but the original book includes other short stories that complete the story told in the novella.
I finished this title a few days ago (being a novella, it was a fairly quick read, though not a light one by any means!) and I still don't really know what to think about it.
The first part of the novella, told from the point of view of the teenager, was really powerful; showing not just the technical and practical difficulties faced by father and son on this deserted island, but also the ugliness of human nature and the incapacity for this man to act as an adult, let alone as a father. So the son is forced to take matter in his own hands and well, there's no other way to this besides, that's when the book slaps you in the face!
Then, the narration's point of view shifts to the father and you feel a lot of pointless procrastination and meaningless mental wondering on the part of the father who sadly cannot come to terms with the novella's events, his life in general and his fatherhood. This character was constantly mistaken, so much so, that it is tragic. Till the end, he simply does not get it.
It's a tragic, poignant story that you probably shouldn't be reading if you're feeling down. It successfully depicts human nature in all its ugliness, selfishness and meaninglessness (is that even a word?) and it is well served by the short, incisive and bare style of the author.
However, despite all these qualities, I can't help but feel somewhat unsatisfied and frustrated by this reading. I couldn't figure out why until today. I initially thought it might have something to do with the gloomy aspect of the narration or perhaps, the crude narrative style. But now I doubt it.
When speaking with a friend about it I told her that I felt I may need to read more of the author's work to be able to put this novella into perspective and find a place for it in my mind, but also in the author's overall work. At the time, I was not aware of the fact that the French edition was in fact a truncated version of the original. I now believe that I would have needed to read the rest of the collection to have a clear opinion on this and do away with my own frustration.
I know a great many French readers did not feel this way so I'm not saying the editor was wrong to only publish one novella (I love Editions Gallmeister and I think they're doing the most fabulous work). I know how difficult it is to sell short stories collection these days. I'm glad this talented author has had a chance to be published in France, in a wonderful translation and is selling extremely well at that! I guess the frustration on my part can be interpreted as something positive in the sense that it means I need to read more from this author. Anyway, I definitely think this is an author to keep an eye on. ...more