Becky Fowler's Reviews > The Civilized World: A Novel in Stories

The Civilized World by Susi Wyss
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's review
Mar 31, 2011

it was amazing
Read in March, 2011

If you are comfortable with uncertainty, you can be comfortable with--and thoroughly enjoy--Wyss's storytelling. Plots/subplots, characters, scenes are very clearly and vividly presented, and yet you almost have the sense that the stories are happening in real-time/real-life and that nothing is guaranteed or all worked out, further along in the pages, simply waiting for you to discover it. To me, that is exciting. You are as much on your own as are the characters in trying to navigate their own paths through complex personal and social situations. But Wyss makes sure we have time to do a little sight-seeing along the way--treating us to many beautiful and provocative views of the unfamiliar (to many of us) African countries where most of the novel takes place. Looking back on the book, I am always struck by how visual my recollections are, as happens with a good movie whose most powerful images and moments file themselves away among those from your very own life, as though you went through them yourself. I can understand the previous reviewer's comment about passion, but each of the main characters in Wyss's book is whole-heartedly pursuing her desires. However, she is doing so--whether through wisdom/experience, self-discipline, wariness, whatever--with a healthy respect for things that are beyond her control or understanding. And there are many. This is a truly unique and worthy read.

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