Friday, August 14, 2009

Review: A Tale of the Dispossessed by Laura Restrepo

Tale of the Dispossessed
"How can I tell him that he is never going to find her after he has been searching for her all his life?"

I made the mistake of going to the bargain bookstore last week. You know, the store that doesn't pay for a real sign, doesn't use the air conditioning even though it's 100 degrees out and all the books are remaindered or look like they fell off a truck? That one!

Anyway, I thought I'd check and see if they had some authors I was interested in reading, and while they didn't have the specific authors I was looking for, I was able to find plenty of other great books! Plenty.

I was drawn to this particular book because of the title and cover. I wouldn't call this a full length novel, it's more of a novella. They manage to pass it off looking like a book in the edition I have because it includes both the English and the original Spanish!

A Tale of the Dispossessed is the story of a refugee center in Colombia. Amidst the turmoil of the country, a young woman who tends to the refugees falls in love with one of the men staying there. He is on a lifelong quest to find the woman who has taken care of him since he was abandoned as a baby and she is full of jealousy and hope. And basically this is the story of him, and how she sees him and how they come together.

I really liked the writing and themes of homelessness and longing for home and belonging in this novella. The ways in which we try to build bridges between us and the aching loneliness in us all is strong throughout the story. The story itself is short, but the writing and imagery is lovely and thought provoking. I liked it enough to be curious to check out more of Laura Restrepo's work. Something that is interesting to me is that I normally shy away from Latin American work as I've shared before, but I'm finding that I have a strong interest in the country of Colombia. Also, I should probably be more interested in Latin American fiction since my only sister and all three of my nieces live in Costa Rica! Anyway, here's one of my favorite passages:

"Heaven protect me from your scolding, my Deep Sea Eyes" --he calls me this, "my Deep Sea Eyes," as if my blue eyes belonged to him, as if all of me were his, and when I hear him, I surrender myself unconditionally to his ownership. Though I understand at the same time that this way of addressing me confirms the distance between us: large blue eyes come from another race, social class, and skin color; another kind of education, another way of handling the knife and fork at the dinner table, of shaking hands in greeting, of finding different things funny;another way of being, difficult and fascinating, but definitely "other." When Three Sevens calls me Deep Sea Eyes, I also understand that between my eyes and his there is an ocean. But he knows that by using my --my Deep Sea Eyes--this my is like a little boat: insufficient, frail, and precarious, but a vessel after all in which to attempt the crossing. That is how my desire reads this, because the only certainty I can find lies in just a few uncertain words.

Rating: 4.25/5
Source of Book: Bought at the bargain bookstore



Sandy Nawrot said...

It sounds lovely! I haven't read a whole lot of South American literature, but I do love Isabele Allende. As a culture, they have so much passion and color in their souls, that you just know there are little hidden treasures like this one out there.

Unknown said...

I haven't read a novella in such a long, long time. I will have to do it sometime soon, maybe I'll even look for this book. Sounds very interesting and like you even though I am not a fan of Latin American writing I think it's time to start reading from that area of the world.

Unknown said...

oh, btw, I also love both of the quotes you provided.I think both are so sad but I like them especially the second one

bermudaonion said...

The writing is so beautiful - this sounds like something I would love!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear you say you are sometimes drawn to a book by the title and cover, because I often am too!!! And it appears you got lucky with this one; the writing sounds wonderful!

Anonymous said...

You've got an award at my blog, Second post down.

Mandy said...

Nice passage, very passionate.
Bargain bookstores can be a reader's very best friend.

S. Krishna said...

I've never heard of this book, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the review!

Amy said... well said! I should read Allende sometime!

Lilly..the first quote was the first line and part of what drew me to the book. I'm glad you enjoyed the quotes as well.

Kathy..I hope you check it out! I couldn't find any other blogger reviews.

rhapsodyinbooks...oh all the time! And the bargain bookshop is a safe place to try out books.


Swapna...I couldn't find another blogger review. :)

Serena said...

I think I heard about this book a while ago and have yet to pick up a copy. Sounds like a great read. I will have to keep this on my radar.

Saada said...

i also found my copy at a bargain bookstore :)
fell in love it at first read. who could forget that first haunting line? i am even tempted to study spanish just so i could read it in its original form.

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