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The Dinner Guest
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2018 International Longlist > The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra

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message 1: by Maxwell (last edited Mar 12, 2018 09:54AM) (new)

Maxwell (welldonebooks) | 375 comments Mod
This is a discussion thread for The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra.

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) Hmmm - this was one of the 3 'surprises' on the prize list for me - and it was a considerable disappointment.

my review

This may be more my taste that the merits of the book bu ultimately this sort of book – a semi-fictional tribute to the author’s family members – is just not too my taste. I had a similarly adverse reaction 2 years ago to the MBI longlisted War and Turpentine, where my review concluded: “family biography tends to be of disproportionate interest to those in the family”, and I had the same sentiments here.

Also the book is frustratingly brief and many of the more promising threads simply aren’t pursued.

There is a nice intersection though with Frankenstein in Baghdad as both have scenes showing how car bombings, kidnappings and assassinations can become, somehow, routine:

During the roughest years at the beginning of the eighties – the so-called años de plomo, or Years of Lead – the neighbours pretended that nothing was happening: they played tennis, had cocktails, went out sailing and visited the open-air restaurants of Berango. The tension was under wraps. A car in flames, a dead body, and a few hours later everything seemed to return to normal.

If she had gone straight back to Tayaran Square, she would have found that everything was calm, just as she had left it in the morning. The pavements would be clean and the cars that had caught fire would have been towed away. The dead would have been taken to the forensics department and the injured to the Kindi Hospital.

But then the comparison of the two books doesn't do this one any favours.

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... Another one I cannot locate?

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) This one you are not missing much!

But this is odder as - unlike The White Book - plenty of availability in the UK, so not sure why not available in US.

Neil | 511 comments I liked this more than Paul did, although I was equally frustrated by its brevity and by the threads that are left unexplored. I did, however, like the simplicity and emotion of the writing and I read it all in one go.

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) It was just that on a list where most of the books are ambitious - even if they fail - and diverse, this one struck me as a bit meh.

Neil | 511 comments Yes, I can understand that. It certainly lacks the ambition that many of the others have. It is not on my personal shortlist. To a degree, I was won over by its simplicity.

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