Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Animal's People

The lovely G gave me this book and I have finally finished it. Now I can usually knock a book off in less than a day but this one has taken a while. After starting it I put it down because I didn't like Animal (the main character). Now please don't hear that as 'I didn't like the book' - it is so well written I didn't like the character! Then I read a good half but have got distracted by blogging. So this morning was the day, and it is finished.

What a book! The back blurb tells us
Ever since he can remember, Animal has gone on all fours, the catastrophic result of what happened on That Night when, thanks to an American chemical company, the Apocalypse visited his slum. Now not quite twenty, he leads a hand-to-mouth existence with his dog Jara and a crazy old nun called Ma Franci, and spends his nights fantasising about Nisha, the daughter of a local musician, and wondering what it must be like to get laid.

When a young American doctor, Elli Barber, comes to town to open a free clinic for the still suffering townsfolk - only to find herself struggling to convince them that she isn't there to do the dirty work of the 'Kampani' - Animal plunges into a web of intrigues, scams and plots with the unabashed aim of turning events to his own advantage.

Compellingly honest, entertaining and entirely without self-pity, Animal's account lights our way into his dark world with flashes of pure joy - from the very first page all the way to the story's explosive ending.

And that is all true but there is so much more. The story is written in three languages - all interwoven, along with the stories of their speakers, to add a magic and complexity to not only the story of Animal but also the town and its inhabitants. You can almost feel the heat of Nautapa, get caught in the dust of the streets and smell the magnolia on a moonlit night.

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