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3.60  ·  Rating details ·  4,345 ratings  ·  222 reviews
Gennaio 1998. A Taveuni, la piccola isola nell'arcipelago delle Figi attraversata dalla linea di cambiamento di data, si incontrano alcuni insoliti personaggi: Frank, biologo evoluzionista norvegese che si è separato dalla sua compagna dopo una tragedia familiare; Ana e José, una enigmatica coppia di spagnoli; John Spooke, scrittore inglese rimasto vedovo da poco. Sotto il ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published 2000 by Longanesi (first published 1999)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,345 ratings  ·  222 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Maya, Jostein Gaarder
A chance meeting on the Fijian island of Taveuni is the trigger for a fascinating and mysterious novel that intertwines the stories of John Spooke, an English author who is grieving for his dead wife; Frank Andersen, a Norwegian evolutionary biologist estranged from his wife Vera; and an enigmatic Spanish couple, Ana and Jose, who are absorbed in their love for each other. Why does Ana bear such a close resemblance to the model for Goya's famous Maja paintings? What is the s
Rebecca McNutt
Maya has a vivid vocabulary and an intriguing plot, but I found it kind of pretentious sometimes and confusing.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel I've read by Gaarder. As an admirer of philosophy, it's not as informative as Sophie's World, but they both manifest Gaarder as a wise writer. This story speaks of love, loss, and meaning. It touches on philosophy and evolution. I like Gaarder's strong non-religious philosophical faith in God which makes an atheist's stance looks ridiculous. As he says, in terms of probability, nothingness would've been far more likely, and I agree. I also like the idea presented in the ...more
N.J. Ramsden
Feb 01, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Either I missed something deeply profound about this, or it really is just a hollow and unsatisfying piece of hand-waving navel-gazing drivel with something in it about a lizard.

I suspect the latter.
Jostein Gaarder prepares a cake called "Maya" by mixing Indian Advaita Philosophy with Darwin's theory of Evolution and baking it in an oven at a temperature of intellectual stimulation. After garnishing with a little bit of mystery, he tops it with some romance. The cake is served in a shape of a very very long letter.
Unfortunately, the resultant is so unpalatable that even if you could enjoy the flavour, you don't really like the overall treat. Especially when the chef had earlier given you "
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly poetic interpretation of what it means for us, as a species, to be alive in this very moment; a very complex, sometimes surreal, tale summarizing what evolution has given us with, and how we have arrived at this point in the history of the planet, while at the same time showing us the circles that complete our lives as human beings.
I don't think it's the right time to read such a book. Later some time, maybe!
(Date set on 2017 so that it's not added to this year's challenge.
Vanessa Crooks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, reviewed
This is really the first "philosophy" book I've read, and I'm not sure what to make of it, honestly. The initial part of this book, in which the background hints that there is a bit of a mystery are given, to me had a little bit of a gothic mystery feel. Everything seems normal on top, but underneath, there's something just not quite right. It had me intrigued, and was enough of an intrigue to allow me to read through this book in the better part of a day and a half, despite some very deep intel ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes with this one. After all, Gaarder was the man who penned one of the modern classics that is Sophie’s World.

And he didn’t disappoint me. Maya is definitely a worthy successor to the likes of Sophie’s World and Vita Brevis. Staying true to his calling, he takes us in a tour-de-force of hard philosophical questions that were difficult to imagine, - let alone deliberate, by anyone alone. This, - I think, is where his greatest influence is supposed to be : in his provocations where
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Belcher
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What begins as a slow, plodding rumination on not-much-at-all (i.e. repetitive lessons on evolutionary biology and the ramblings of characters you don't yet care about) turns into an intriguing, slow-boiling mystery about life: both backwards and forwards. I found myself riveted once the initial banality dissolved, eagerly speeding through the rest of the book, and by the time I finished the novel even the first 100 pages took on a new, fascinating appeal. It's a bold move for a writer to start ...more
Kerry Byrne
This is the kind of book that I wanted to keep reading because I was waiting for a 'wow moment' but I never really found that moment. I was a bit disappointed. Maybe I'll read it again someday and read it differently. I really wanted to enjoy it, if that makes sense?
Aug 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Jostein Gaarder. That being said, that's one of the worst books that ever got to my hands.

I just couldn't get through ten pages! I never really got to the end and my ex who is also a big fan didn't either. I remember some frogs and a boring beginning.
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book, Thanks Jeane!
Apr 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Gaarder book I have read, the first being Sophie's World. Other reviews mentioned reading the Solitaire Man was helpful to them, and I wish that I had read it because it would have given the story more meaning.

I enjoy philosophy books, and I loved Sophie's World. I found the evolution speeches by the main character, Frank, very interesting. That's the kind of thing I couldn't read in a textbook, but putting it in a story makes much more sense to me. That being said, there is
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure of my ultimate ideas on fate, but I absolutely believe that some books are meant to be read at specific times in a specific person's life.
But you know when you start a book and you're kind of exasperated & frustrated with it, and the back of your mind starts pushing an idea to the front: "Switch books...switch books!"? Sometimes, if you keep reading, it'll turn out that you were meant to read it, right then, right now. And that was my experience with Maya.

Talk about a slow star
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up purely on the strength of Sophie's World, which was a great read. Sadly, Maya didn't pack a punch like Sophie's World did.

In Maya, a group of people in Taveuni in Fiji meet and connect. The narrator, a lonely Norwegian is intrigued by a Spanish couple who go around spouting mysterious aphorisms. The whole group connect in different ways and discuss life, love and other things.

For me, the first half of the book was extremely slow moving. Particularly a section which had the
Dec 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Gaarder book, as well as my first “philosophy” book. Admittedly, during the first portion of the book I had a hard time getting into it. There is quite a bit of mystery built up and much talk of evolution as the main character is a biologist. The dialogue is designed to make the reader question their own beliefs and purpose in life, which I thought was very interesting. However, the evolutionary discussions at times became too heavy and tiresome to read. It seemed like Frank, th ...more
Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Probably the most philosophical book I have read from Gaarder, and that is saying a lot. The first half of the book takes place at a “tropical summit” where issues ranging from evolution, the universe, and the meaning of consciousness. The second half of the book moves into a mystery and explores the issues of love and of loss. I don’t think there was an issue that Gaarder did not touch in this book. Needless to say, it made for some interesting conversations with myself and had me explore my ow ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished this a while ago, but been putting off a review because I'm not quite sure what to write.

It's difficult to review a Gaarder book without referring to the other Gaarder books you've read. Sophie's World blew me away. I love the Solitaire Mystery possibly more. The Christmas Mystery was so-so. So I wasn't sure what to expect from this one.

I'm not quite sure what I got either.

Maya is either insane or brilliant. It's definitely "Gaarder". If you don't know what that means, I'd actually reco
One of the strangest reading experiences I've had in a long time. This book is a mystery inside a mystery - a whole other book inside a book. I wasn't prepared for the questions raised in this book and neither was I prepared for this style of writing, and many times I had to stop and reread parts.
I finished this book in two days, when I should have been studying for an exam.
The first 100 pages or so do not make sense until you get to to the second half of the book, at which point you find yours
Lee Kofman
I really loved the first 50 or so pages of Maya, despite the utterly depressing subject matter (acute dread of death). However, once Gaarder introduced a speaking lizard into the book, it went downhill for me. I found the dialogue and plot to be often forced at the service of conveying ideas which were interesting (e.g. different approaches to coping with death and to understanding the creation of our universe, and the probability of existence of some divinity), however overwritten, repetitive. ...more
Octavia Cade
The book to which this is a sequel, The Solitaire Mystery, is one of my favourites. This, sad to say, is not. There are some interesting bits here - I particularly love the idea of a woman who looks exactly like the subject of two Goya paintings - but they are buried very deep down. Maya starts to gather momentum about 200 pages in, when the protagonist goes to visit the Prado, but it's a slog to get that far. The Fijian "summit" meeting is just plain dull. (Pompous and pontificating may be a be ...more
Ana Mladenović
To be honest with you, this is a Jostein Gaarder book, so I was going to either be blown away by it or, at the very least, mildly like it. Unfortunately, my opinion seems to fall into the second cathegory and it's greatly influenced solely by appreciation of the pure existence of this writer. As always, the writing was impeccable. I truly admire Gaarder's dedication to accuracy of the facts, as well as wonderfully put details and character quirks. With that in mind, and as typical as this sounds ...more
I can't decide if I liked this book or not. This one didn't capture my attention immediately like I remember from all of the other books by Gaarder I've read. The beginning wasn't all that compelling and I almost gave up on the book a third of the way through (which is quite a bit of slow reading). The first half is philosophical musings and setup for the second half. The second half of the book is the meaty story part -- the mystery, the chase, the love story, the climax and then a sharp turn t ...more
I am (very) slowly working my way through Gaarder's works and I continue to enjoy the process. My feelings about this book are quite contradictory: sometimes I felt it was a masterpiece, sometimes I felt it was very flawed. The story itself is enjoyable enough and vividly painted by Gaarder. The ideas it presents are captivating to me and beautifully worded. However, it is overly repetitive and I felt quite let down by the 'postscript.' On the whole, though, it was a good read and I'd recommend ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'It takes billions of years to create a human being. And it takes only a few seconds to die.'

What a read! I was sucked into the narrative...I could see the characters and scenarios unfold in front of my eyes. I felt the narrators irk, his anguish, his curiosity........Not quite the ending I expected. I so wanted the fantasy to be real.

The impermanence of the illusion of life itself is enough to call for every moment to be savoured.
Feb 18, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I have read Sophie's world & i enjoyed it a lot, but i'm not able to go further in this second book of Gaarder!
the rhythm is slow and characters are vague...
would anyone encourage me to continue?
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this story were good, but overall I found the book a little heavy-handed in its attempts to be "philosophical." The many discussions about the meaning of existence just came across as pompous. And the ending was pretty disappointing. Can't really recommend this one.
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Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian intellectual and author of several novels, short stories, and children's books. Gaarder often writes from the perspective of children, exploring their sense of wonder about the world. He often uses meta-fiction in his works, writing stories within stories.

Gaarder was born into a pedagogical family. His best known work is the novel Sophie's World, subtitled "A Novel a
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“It takes billions of years to create a human being. And it takes only a few seconds to die.” 140 likes
“When we die, as when the scenes have been fixed on to celluloid and the scenery is pulled down and burnt — we are phantoms in the memories of our descendants. Then we are ghosts, my dear, then we are myths. But still we are together. We are the past together, we are a distant past. Beneath the dome of the mysterious stars, I still hear your voice.” 19 likes
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