The novel works on many levels—including the sociological and the mythic—and can serve as a primer both for adepts and for...

THE LEGEND OF PRADEEP MATHEW

An investigation into the life and times of a mysterious Sri Lankan cricket player from the perspective of an obsessed fan.

Though Sri Lankan himself, sportswriter Wijedasa Gamini Karunasena (Wije to his friends) fits in well with the American stereotype of the journalist as a cigarette-smoking boozer. He and his friends spend their time compiling and arguing about all-star cricket teams, in much the same way Americans would argue over the relative merits of DiMaggio, Williams and Mantle. After years of abusing his liver, and after the Cricket World Cup matches in 1996, he begins to track down the enigmatic Pradeep Mathew, a “spinner” and the best Sri Lankan cricketer ever. (One sign of Pradeep’s omnipresence in the culture occurs when one of the journalist’s friends refers to Montgomery Clift as "the Pradeep Mathew of the silver screen.") In a short period of time Pradeep made a splash and then disappeared, and his mystery involves being simultaneously forgotten and mythologized. Wije is determined to track down the cricketer’s movements and ultimate destiny, so he puts ads in the paper, fishing for "anyone who knows anything about...," and he has limited success—a woman who claims to be his sister, a former girlfriend who has a handwritten poem from the athlete—but Pradeep and his legacy largely remain silent. Wije plays out his obsession with his friend Ari but against a family he’s neglecting, and his problems with whisky eventually land him into a 12-step recovery program.

The novel works on many levels—including the sociological and the mythic—and can serve as a primer both for adepts and for those who’ve never seen a cricket match.

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55597-611-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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

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Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE

The time is the not-so-distant future, when the US's spiraling social freedoms have finally called down a reaction, an Iranian-style repressive "monotheocracy" calling itself the Republic of Gilead—a Bible-thumping, racist, capital-punishing, and misogynistic rule that would do away with pleasure altogether were it not for one thing: that the Gileadan women, pure and true (as opposed to all the nonbelieving women, those who've ever been adulterous or married more than once), are found rarely fertile.

Thus are drafted a whole class of "handmaids," whose function is to bear the children of the elite, to be fecund or else (else being certain death, sent out to be toxic-waste removers on outlying islands). The narrative frame for Atwood's dystopian vision is the hopeless private testimony of one of these surrogate mothers, Offred ("of" plus the name of her male protector). Lying cradled by the body of the barren wife, being meanwhile serviced by the husband, Offred's "ceremony" must be successful—if she does not want to join the ranks of the other disappeared (which include her mother, her husband—dead—and small daughter, all taken away during the years of revolt). One Of her only human conduits is a gradually developing affair with her master's chauffeur—something that's balanced more than offset, though, by the master's hypocritically un-Puritan use of her as a kind of B-girl at private parties held by the ruling men in a spirit of nostalgia and lust. This latter relationship, edging into real need (the master's), is very effectively done; it highlights the handmaid's (read Everywoman's) eternal exploitation, profane or sacred ("We are two-legged wombs, that's all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices"). Atwood, to her credit, creates a chillingly specific, imaginable night-mare. The book is short on characterization—this is Atwood, never a warm writer, at her steeliest—and long on cynicism—it's got none of the human credibility of a work such as Walker Percy's Love In The Ruins. But the scariness is visceral, a world that's like a dangerous and even fatal grid, an electrified fence.

Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 1985

ISBN: 038549081X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1985

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