Hamilton-Paterson flawlessly folds Into this souffle folded many ingredients seemingly disparate, resulting in hilarity and desire for more. Told in a...moreHamilton-Paterson flawlessly folds Into this souffle folded many ingredients seemingly disparate, resulting in hilarity and desire for more. Told in alternating voices, the plot soars hilariously. Marta, a composer from Eastern Europe, and Gerald, a ghost-writing ex-pat from England, live in mutual disharmony, misdirection and misunderstanding on a Tuscan hilltop. It helps, but is not necessary, for the reader to be somewhat knowledgeable about Pier Paolo Pasolini, East European mafia, gourmet cooking. Add to this, Boy Bands, UFOs, ghostwritten "autobiographies," Italian filmmaking. Not since "Somebody is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe" have there been recipes of such escalating ludicrousness. Hilarious! I'm gratified to learn that there are at least two books that follow this one. (less)
It seems that the most amazing thing that happens to the characters in this book is the cataclysmic earthquake that imprisons them in a cellar while c...moreIt seems that the most amazing thing that happens to the characters in this book is the cataclysmic earthquake that imprisons them in a cellar while collecting visas for trips to India. Other reviews have made much of Divakaruni's storytelling ability and the compelling storylines these characters tell of their lives to pass the time, but I found the "revealing amazing things" to be disappointingly trite and predictable. What isn't predictable is the unexpected ending of the book. This has been alluded to by other reviewers, so I don't think I'm providing any spoilers by saying that the abruptness with which the book ends is unsettling, and issues that were raised during the ordeal are left so that there are too many dangling threads.(less)
After A Long Way Home, his harrowing memoir of life as a child soldier, Ishmael Beah writes this haunting novel filled which illustrates the persevera...moreAfter A Long Way Home, his harrowing memoir of life as a child soldier, Ishmael Beah writes this haunting novel filled which illustrates the perseverance of hope and tradition. Seven years after the Sierra Leone civil war ravished their town, the inhabitants of Imperi return to bury their dead and reestablish their community. Several standout characters emerge in their attempt to establish a school and reinstate the values they held as a people before being scattered and losing most of their families. The appearance of a mining company, ruthless in its methods, proves to be more of an undoing than even the rebel forces.
But it is the language that Beah incorporates, his use of native idiom, that makes this novel sing. He continues to work on behalf of children of Africa, attempting to prevent what happened to him from besetting children of today. His continued efforts on behalf of UNICEF lead him into the Central African Republic, placing him in danger despite the fact that he is married and a father himself now, planning on returning to Sierra Leone with his family. His belief in the power of tradition is strong. His eloquence, undeniable.(less)
To be honest, I almost gave up on this book, but was glad I didn't when I went back and read some other reviews that informed me this was based on an...moreTo be honest, I almost gave up on this book, but was glad I didn't when I went back and read some other reviews that informed me this was based on an actual event when there was heated dispute between environmentalists and family over the removal of a body drowned in a river. The set up is intriguing, but the backstory really left me cold as did the characters. I've heard great things about this author, i.e., his history as a poet, but there is very little poetry in this prose. I will give him another chance since I believe he wanted to tell this story, but didn't use all his writing skills to do so.(less)
This book is so well written, so lyrical and evocative, with descriptions of nature and natural metaphors. It presents a picture of everyday life in J...moreThis book is so well written, so lyrical and evocative, with descriptions of nature and natural metaphors. It presents a picture of everyday life in Japan that is recognizable to Western readers since despite the cultural differences, the situations depict universal experience. The relationships between the family members are familiar. The central figure, a man approaching his twilight years, is contemplative, having lived a quiet life, he finds himself dwelling on matters of mortality inspired by the increasing numbers of deaths of his friends. It was difficult at first to get oriented as to the time this story is taking place. The book, written in 1970, refers to the War Years as if they were closer than 30 years previous. The optimistic tone throughout is ironic given that despite winning the Nobel Prize in 1968, Kawabata committed suicide 2 years after the publication of this book.(less)