I was looking forward to reading this having really enjoyed the slow build up of suspense in Under The Skin and Faber's masterful reveal of the plotsI was looking forward to reading this having really enjoyed the slow build up of suspense in Under The Skin and Faber's masterful reveal of the plots big twist. In the Book Of Strange New Things he employs the same precise prose and baits the reader with an equally intriguing premise but it ultimately falls flat.
Peter Leigh is a Christian minister who has been chosen by an American corporation USIC to act as a missionary on the distant planet of Oasis. Peter must leave his wife Bea behind in the UK and preach to the indigineous aliens living on the planet.
From the start there is a sense that information is being witheld and things not adding up. For example, Peter has absolutely no information about the inhabitants of the planet or what he will be doing there. At first this drives the reader on, especially since having read Under The Skin there is the sense that Faber must be hiding this information for a reason.
Why does nobody have any information about the aliens when apparently millions of people are aware of the planet and its inhabitants? Would this not be front page news everywhere? With people desperate for more information?
Why does one American corporation have the only base there? Would there not be other governmental organisations? Or competing corporations?
How can it in anyway be feasible that their computer can send text but no images?
These and countless other queries at first suggest there is more to what is going on on Oasis than is being revealed but slowly, very slowly, excruciatingly slowly, it becomes apparent that there is nothing else to the book.
There is no reveal, no hidden agenda but simply a series of plot holes that make this nothing more than an overblown space opera. The crux of the story becomes Peter and Bea's seperation - a fine enough theme - but this in encased in barely believable bumph about the planet Oasis.
In an era of self-publishing, self-publicising and social media onanism, the idea that a piece of writing might be censored before arriving in the pubIn an era of self-publishing, self-publicising and social media onanism, the idea that a piece of writing might be censored before arriving in the public domain seems strange enough, but the concept of state-run censorship is positively archaic.
The idea that a superpower could today manage to ban a book in any effective way seems impossible. Google may remove the odd link from its servers, with a vague nod towards the “right to be forgotten”, but anyone hoping to definitively hide information once it becomes publicly available faces a terrifyingly difficult task.
World superpowers can no longer keep their military secrets in the bag, never mind censor books. If Edward Snowden can publish the CIA’s dirty laundry for the world to see, the state censorship of literature seems a quaint thing of the past. No longer would we tolerate the government telling us what we can or cannot read simply because we are so used to being able to read anything — at any place, at any time.
It is therefore a strange and appropriately dusky world that readers enter when they start reading the first pages of Ismail Kadare’s Twilight of the Eastern Gods. Set at the end of the 1950s in Soviet Moscow, the writing instantly conjures a dreamlike sea of contradictions.... [Full review published at Litro Magazine http://bit.ly/1oCOwQv] ...more