Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen

As the Second World War played out, the small country of Estonia saw multiple occupations by the Germans and the Soviets. Amid these rapidly shifting geopolitical realities, allegiances were difficult to forge but not so for the duplicitous Edgar Parts. Parts will stop short at almost nothing to plant himself on the winning team and Oksanen’s high-voltage prose, translated seamlessly from Finnish by Lola Rogers, unravels his cat-and-mouse games to stunning effect. The overlapping betrayals by multiple parties and shifting time settings can get confusing, but the story is a triumphant portrayal of the will to survive at any cost.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Black River by S. M. Hulse

The rugged Montana countryside serves as a perfect backdrop for this emotionally wrenching story about a prodigal son holding on to vestiges of faith in the wake of devastating tragedy. Wes Carver has a troubled past that is seared into him -- quite literally. Early on he loses the anchor in his life, his wife Claire. Worse, he must wrestle with the concept of forgiveness. At times Wes and his son Dennis veer too close to the strong and silent stereotype but the relationships that form the crux of this debut are beautifully rendered and a joy to watch evolve.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland And the Transformation Of Rural China

In the vast tundra of Manchuria, in China’s Northeast, farming is still very much a part of the landscape, the biting winters affording just enough of a window for harvesting rice. The small town of Wasteland is where Frances, the author’s wife is from, and it is where Meyer spends a year chronicling not just the farming season but the impending irreversible changes soon to come knocking. This is a breathless and lively tour of Manchuria’s history and China’s evolving agrarian policies told through the eyes of a veteran investigative reporter. A side of the Asian behemoth not often seen.