- A slim volume with sparse prose that doesn't stall the forward momentum.
- Unflinchingly honest portrayal of an immigrant family dealing with the strangeness of their new life.
- Spare, brutally honest depiction of a family coping with a life-changing tragedy.
- Always convincing and believable.
- Not enough going on to begin with, so the only thing providing "forward momentum" is the prose. The story stagnates.
- Characterization focuses on emphasizing key qualities through reiteration, NOT through gradual development, flashes of insight, or the uncovering of nuances, so after a while I didn't find any of them very compelling.
- Simply "coping" with a tragedy by finding a way to live through day-by-day doldrums and routine - no matter how true it may seem to life - does not a good story (or even good literature) make.
- For some, the prose will seem punitively bland. A cunning reference to Hemingway as one of the narrator's personal heroes does little to buy him credit with those who love language (like me) and wish to see its glories celebrated in literature.
- Almost no deeper insights or moments of thoughtfulness. The experience is rendered in all its muteness and tedium, but with no sense of transcendence. No doubt another attempt at being Hemingwayan and "true to life".
Verdict: This is one of those books whose writing is celebrated because it is "brave" and "honest", and nobody wants to criticize a book that required such courage of the writer, someone who has put his own life experience out there for our consumption.
To be fair, the talent on display is obvious: Akhil Sharma is a terrific writer, and I can easily see why he is a Creative Writing professor at a reputable MFA program. But when I learned that he took so many years to write this very slim and simple book, I was rather surprised. The prose is milk bland and free from nuance, and the narrative is rather straightforward; there aren't that many deeper meanings or resonances. Even the fictional technique is neither particularly complex nor subtle. Hemingway - who is cleverly flagged as an influence and, probably, intended as a point of comparison - may have written in simple prose, but the technical effects he achieved by doing so required it, and took tremendous craft and skill, all of which can be observed upon careful reading. A careful reading of this book reveals relatively little of the same (at least not for a book that took close to a decade to write).
The real trouble with this book, however, is that it seems to subscribe to a rather problematic view of fiction, one that refuses to admit the gap between art and life, and one that often confuses the line between the two. To be effective, fiction MUST be a little unfaithful to life, or else it will lack shape and meaning. And a person's pain - no matter how sincerely felt or truthfully rendered - means very little to readers unless it has been transmuted through craft and narrative into a story.
What we have here is basically a character who sits around and observes things with exquisite detail, and very little else. He is almost entirely passive; throughout the narrative, things happen to him, but he himself does not do much to inform the events. This is one of the risks of having child narrators at the center of a story, as children generally do not have much power or opportunity to matter to the events unfolding around them. But characters who do not take actions with meaningful consequences have little to recommend them to us or command our attention.
I hope Mr. Sharma writes more books - he will probably create some really great works with his skill - but this book let me down after the first 80 pages or so.
- 语种： 英语
- ISBN: 0393060055
- 条形码: 0884869085817
- 商品尺寸: 15 x 2.3 x 21.8 cm
- 商品重量: 367 g
- ASIN: 0393060055
- 用户评分: 243 买家评级