Kempadoo’s sensuous language and tangled storytelling veer between hypnotic and incomprehensible.

ALL DECENT ANIMALS

Guyanese-British Kempadoo’s third novel (Tide Running, 2003, etc.) again takes on the socioeconomic complexity of the Caribbean, this time in Trinidad as a multiracial group cares for a friend dying of AIDS.

A fluid sense of time and Kempadoo’s mix of native patois and feverishly descriptive prose creates an almost hallucinogenic atmosphere to fill out the skeletal story of Trinidadian architect Fraser’s last days. Before his diagnosis, Fraser was already the center of a multicultural, multiracial circle of educated, artistic types. The son of middle-class Trinidadians, educated at Cambridge and gay, Frazier is a confusion of mixed allegiances, and during the lively parties he throws at the beautiful home he designed, his own conversation shifts in a heartbeat from local slang to proper British. But after he collapses from renal failure and discovers he has full-blown AIDS, his friends surround him: his tough but devoted houseboy, his lovers, his elegant and sexy women friends, the Catholic priest with whom he sparred over a building project, his furiously proper mother and browbeaten father, the working-class cab driver who suffered his own catastrophic loss when his Indian girlfriend was murdered. In particular, there is the Caribbean artist Ata, whose conflicted consciousness lightly weaves together the fragmented plot. Ata lives with Fraser’s friend Pierre, a French U.N. bureaucrat, and Fraser’s illness exposes cracks in the couple’s relationship. Like Fraser, Ata finds herself torn between her identity as a Caribbean and her embrace of Pierre’s European sophistication. Despite its intense sensuality, this is a novel more of ideas than emotions. How to balance the corruption and the creativity that define Trinidad and its vibrant but disturbingly violent boomtown capital, Port of Spain? How to balance European logic against the less rational, even magical power of the island? How to move past the history of political domination? How to live fully in the moment yet think clearly? How to communicate to anyone outside oneself? “How to live with the ugliness of the beauty we love?”

Kempadoo’s sensuous language and tangled storytelling veer between hypnotic and incomprehensible.

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-29971-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more