A journey that’s uniquely informative, though hampered at times by overbearing prose.

VOICE OF THE ELDERS

Debut author Ripley presents a sci-fi thriller about apparently friendly visitors from another planet.

Indian-American teenager Rohini Haakonsen is in the United Nations headquarters in New York City as part of the Youth Assembly program, when a group of robed strangers appear—space aliens who assure the audience that they come in peace. They insist on being called the “Elders,” and they offer assistance to an Earth that’s in environmental peril, facing rising sea levels. They request that a number of young people be sent to the Elders’ unnamed world to study and learn their ways. Obviously, the sudden appearance of aliens at the U.N. is a shocking event, and not everyone trusts the Elders’ motives. Rohini, for instance, has suspicions about the whole affair, but she winds up being handpicked by the Elders (with approval from the president of the United States) to be one of Earth’s ambassadors. Rohini won’t go unprepared, however, as a government agent named Sinéad McGowan, alias “Jane Smith,” trains her for a few months before she’s scheduled to leave the planet, so that she can stand up to any sort of confrontation. But after an incident in Washington, D.C., leads to tragedy, Sinéad and Rohini flee to China to plan their next move, where more about the Elders is revealed. There, Rohini, along with the reader, also learns much about Chinese history and culture, including about the 13th-century painter Chen Rong and the dongtian fudi system of nature preserves. This information is, however, not always woven seamlessly into the story; for example, the narration heavy-handedly notes that Rohini “had found in the past that learning how people from other cultures viewed life often gave her deeper insight and more appreciation for her own.” There are some occasionally bland descriptions, and some of the obstacles that Rohini runs into along the way, such as conniving FBI Special Agent in Charge Edward R. Rooney, fizzle more quickly than they should. Still, the narrative takes readers to unusual places in a whirlwind of activity that’s difficult to predict.

A journey that’s uniquely informative, though hampered at times by overbearing prose.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939548-90-0

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Calumet Editions

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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