A completely new translation of Brazilian author Hatoum’s mordant 1989 novel (previously published in the US, in 1994, as The Tree of the Seventh Heaven).
Here, multiple narrators reveal the internecine warfare among scattered members of a Lebanese immigrant family. Their story follows several generations through nearly eight decades, beginning with the clan’s embattled relocation to the Amazon port city of Manaus, and climaxing with the stately progression toward death of its matriarch Emilie, whose ardent Christianity has challenged both her husband’s Muslim faith and their children’s and relatives’ miscellaneous derelictions. In a nicely paced, trim (if somewhat derivative) narrative, Hatoum focuses efficiently on such agreeably garish characters as doomed deaf-mute illegitimate daughter Soraya Angela, importunate and likewise ill-fated Uncle Emir, and unregenerate prodigal son Hakim. The melodrama generated by theirs and others’ interactions is a little like Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and rather a lot like Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm.
Well worth reading, nevertheless.