Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: Hunger by Elise Blackwell

I love Unbridled Books so I was thrilled we made them our first choice as part of the Spotlight Series, which is basically an effort to bring more recognition to the many fantastic small presses out there. Unbridled Books's fiction is always of excellent quality. We will be spotlighting more small presses throughout the year, so I hope you'll go subscribe to our blog. There's no reason to limit your reading to only the best-selling names!

I chose to read a backlist title, Hunger by Elise Blackwell. I have to confess that this book kind of confused me. So I'm using the publisher's synopsis:

Set during Hitler’s siege of Leningrad, Elise Blackwell’s beautiful debut novel is the deeply moving story of one man’s confrontation with his own morality. A scientist, but a man of powerful personal appetites, unexpectedly finds himself with a choice that is informed too much by his private hungers. The danger he faces is betraying not only the woman he loves but also the principles he holds most dear.

I think my lack of understanding of the history of this time period kept me from really enjoying this short little book. I couldn't place in my mind where the events were taking place and the book itself didn't offer a lot of information in this regard. Additionally, it moved back and forth through time in the mind of the narrator further confusing me.

The writing, however, was lovely. The depictions of the extreme hunger were horrific. Some of the moral examinations were interesting, but it felt more like I was being told about them rather than that I was experiencing them along with the characters. And the fact that the narrator was only able to remain faithful to his wife for one year was disturbing.

In any case, the writing is beautiful and I will read more of Blackwell's books. And it did make me more interested in this time period so maybe I'll look for some books that give me a better understanding.

Rating: 3.5/5
Source of Book: paperback swap
Publisher: Unbridled Books


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