Moral questions take on human form in Ferrari’s stunning narrative.
What if God was one of us?
When restless Corsican teenager Antonia receives a 14th birthday present of a camera from her doting uncle, a priest, the direction of her life changes. Antonia’s unnamed uncle is also her godfather—although “god” father is probably more accurate—and Ferrari’s affecting account follows the sequence of the requiem Mass the uncle celebrates for her years after her death in a car accident. Much of Antonia’s adolescence is immersed in the turmoil of Corsican partisan activity thanks to a youthful romantic attachment, and she supports herself with a stultifying job as a photographer for a provincial paper. Eventually, she is drawn to photograph the horrors and grotesqueries of the destruction of Yugoslavia. Her life ends shortly after she has an impromptu reunion with a combatant she knew during that scarifying time. Ferrari, a Prix Goncourt winner, revisits the history of war photography, which, along with Antonia’s growing fascination with the allure of violence, creates space for discussions of evil, love, complicity, and the responsibility of the artist. Joycean sentences, some of epic length, propel readers through the consciences and consciousnesses of agonized characters dealing with grief, regret, and love—or, in short: through life. At the beginning and after the end of Antonia’s meaningful existence, she is cared for and guided by her enigmatic uncle—who experiences internal anguish of his own about the petty and human realities of parish life—and she shares with him her observations about the depravities witnessed in her quest to create images. Whether or not Antonia’s uncle serves in some divine capacity, the story his gift sets in motion provides Ferrari with an opportunity to explore the limits of human love and suffering.Moral questions take on human form in Ferrari’s stunning narrative.
Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022
Page Count: 192
Publisher: Europa Editions
Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021
Share your opinion of this book
by Lauren Groff ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.
This historical fever dream of a novel follows the flight of a servant girl through the Colonial American wilderness, red in tooth and claw.
As in her last novel, Matrix (2021), Groff’s imaginative journey into a distant time and place is powered by a thrumming engine of language and rhythm. “She had chosen to flee, and in so choosing, she had left behind her everything she had, her roof, her home, her country, her language, the only family she had ever known, the child Bess, who had been born into her care when she was herself a small child of four years or so, her innocence, her understanding of who she was, her dreams of who she might one day be if only she could survive this starving time." Those onrushing sentences will follow the girl, “sixteen or seventeen or perhaps eighteen years of age,” through the wilderness surrounding the desperate colony, driven by famine and plague into barbarism, through the territory of “the powhatan and pamunkey” to what she hopes will be “the settlements of frenchmen, canada,” a place she once saw pointed out on a map. The focus is on the terrors of survival, the exigencies of starvation, the challenges of locomotion, the miseries of a body wounded, infected, and pushed beyond its limit. What plot there is centers on learning the reason for her flight and how it will end, but the book must be read primarily for its sentences and the light it shines on the place of humans in the order of the world. Whether she is eating baby birds and stealing the fluff from the mother’s nest to line her boots, having a little tea party with her meager trove of possessions, temporarily living inside a tree trunk that comes with a pantry full of grubs (spiders prove less tasty), or finally coming to rest in a way neither she nor we can foresee, immersion in the girl’s experience provides a virtual vacation from civilization that readers may find deeply satisfying.The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023
Share your opinion of this book
by Barbara Kingsolver ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 18, 2022
An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2022
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Winner
Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver crafts a 21st-century coming-of-age story set in America’s hard-pressed rural South.
It’s not necessary to have read Dickens’ famous novel to appreciate Kingsolver’s absorbing tale, but those who have will savor the tough-minded changes she rings on his Victorian sentimentality while affirming his stinging critique of a heartless society. Our soon-to-be orphaned narrator’s mother is a substance-abusing teenage single mom who checks out via OD on his 11th birthday, and Demon’s cynical, wised-up voice is light-years removed from David Copperfield’s earnest tone. Yet readers also see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath his self-protective exterior. Like pretty much everyone else in Lee County, Virginia, hollowed out economically by the coal and tobacco industries, he sees himself as someone with no prospects and little worth. One of Kingsolver’s major themes, hit a little too insistently, is the contempt felt by participants in the modern capitalist economy for those rooted in older ways of life. More nuanced and emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. Kingsolver’s ferocious indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, angrily stated by a local girl who has become a nurse, is in the best Dickensian tradition, and Demon gives a harrowing account of his descent into addiction with his beloved Dori (as naïve as Dickens’ Dora in her own screwed-up way). Does knowledge offer a way out of this sinkhole? A committed teacher tries to enlighten Demon’s seventh grade class about how the resource-rich countryside was pillaged and abandoned, but Kingsolver doesn’t air-brush his students’ dismissal of this history or the prejudice encountered by this African American outsider and his White wife. She is an art teacher who guides Demon toward self-expression, just as his friend Tommy provokes his dawning understanding of how their world has been shaped by outside forces and what he might be able to do about it.An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022
Page Count: 560
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!