Iowa City Public Library's Reviews > The People's Act of Love

The People's Act of Love by James Meek
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's review
Jul 09, 2010

bookshelves: john, staff-picks-blog, fiction

One of the horrifying premises of James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love is apparently true. When political prisoners in Siberia escaped, they had to travel such vast distances to safety, they sometimes took a weaker prisoner along–as food.

Vivid characters abound here. There’s a drunken shaman with a third eye and an albino assistant. There’s Anna Petrovna, whose husband has left her to lead the local cult that practices ritual castration to attain purity (another documented practice I was happier not knowing about). Anna doesn’t lack for company tho. The town is occupied by Czech soldiers, who switch sides, depending on who happens to be winning the Russian revolution at the moment. Most vivid of all is Saramin, a revolutionary who has escaped the White Garden, a prison camp, and warns the town of the monster who stalks him.

This is a bloody book, but there’s nothing formulaic about it, as is so often the case with bloody books—war stories, horror, thrillers. It’s startlingly original in concept and execution. Its prose is wonderful. It’s got those take-your-breath-away revelations that make you rethink the whole story. It’s very bloodiness serves to show the folly of extremism. --John

From ICPL Staff Picks Blog

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