The core of this exotic fusion of mainstream and literary fiction is defined by the eponymous title– displacement, exclusion, alienation, and even expulsion. The exquisite, poetic first chapter thrusts the reader immediately into a remote setting in Kathmandu 2006, where American cardiologist, Peter Scanlon and his seventeen-year-old daughter, Alex, face a guerilla death squad in the Himalayas. The reader is instantly spellbound with the story, where survival and danger coalesce in a taut, tense thriller that examines contrasts in exile: spirituality within human suffering, inner peace outside of war, and prosperity beyond pestilence.
Solace, by Belinda McKeon, is a novel about love and longing. As a noun, “solace” means to find comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness. As a verb, it means to give solace to someone else or oneself. This book is about people who find solace in the small things of this world and find it difficult to talk about the bigger things. They hang on to what they know, especially when they face tragedy or their worlds turn upside down.
Tom and Mark are father and son. Tom works his farm in Ireland and Mark is working on his doctorate at Trinity University in Dublin. Tom finds it difficult to understand a life that does not consist of working the land and he finds it very difficult to understand his son.
May 28, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 21st-Century, Fatherhood, Job-centered, Life Choices Â· Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Ireland, Reading Guide, World Lit
The thirteen stories in the collection BULLFIGHTING from Irish author Roddy Doyle examine various aspects of male middle age. Eight of these stories first appeared in New Yorker, and in this volume the post-boom stories collectively offer a wry, bittersweet look at the years past and the years yet to come. We see middle-aged men whose wives have left them, middle-aged men whose children have grown and gone, stale marriages, marriages which have converted lovers into friends, the acceptance of disease and aging, and the ever-looming aspect of mortality. Lest I give the wrong impression, these stories are not depressing–instead through these marvellous stories Doyle argues that middle age brings new experiences and new emotions–just when we thought weâ€™d experienced all that life had to offer.
In A PALACE IN THE OLD VILLAGE Tahar Ben Jelloun tells the elegiac and moving story of a simple man from a small village in Morocco, who feels completely lost in the fast moving, modern world. Mohammed had to change “from one time to another, one life to another” when back in 1962, this young peasant was persuaded to leave his remote village in Morocco and join the immigrant labour force in France. Now forty years later, he is about to start his retirement and this new situation preoccupies and worries him deeply. From one moment to the next, it will end the years of daily routines which have made him feel safe, secure and needed. They have also protected him from reflecting on his life and its challenges : “Everything seemed difficult to him, complicated, and he knew he was not made for conflicts.”
Family bonds, particularly between fathers and sons, and mothers and sons, are explored with great sorrow and depth in this elegiac and epic tale of the Skala family, hard-working Czech farmers in Lavaca County. In the fertile flat lands of South Texas, in the fictional town of Dalton, 1895, Karel Skala is the fourth son born to Vaclav and Klara, and the one that results in Klara’s death. Vaclav’s pain shuts him down, and he forsakes holding his son.
From Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, to Jonathan Franzen’s THE CORRECTIONS, and just recently, Jennifer Vanderbes’ STRANGERS AT THE FEAST, unhappy families have been a staple of literature all over the globe. What, or who, put the “y” in unhappy, in dysfunction? Canadian author Lee Kvern mines this question with a brutally honest sensitivity in her intimate family portrait of Lloyd and Jacqueline Burrows and their three children–“four, if you count Sylvie.”