A brilliant telling of a post-apocalyptic future after a virus rapidly kills >99% of the world’s population. The story alternates between the present which is 20 years after the plague, and the back-story of the key characters. There are some very satisfying inter-relationships between characters that are revealed slowly, including the importance of an unpublished graphic novel. This is an excellent entertaining book.
Amy notes: Later on the CBC Canada Reads long list 2016
This is an insightful and introspective book, typical of Bergen’s novels. The first part of the book is a perfect recounting of growing up in rural Alberta. Arthur describes his influences: isolation, books and school, religion, sibling rivalry, and conversations that leave much more unsaid than stated explicitly. The latter part of the book is a coming-of-age story in Paris. Just an excellent read.
This is a brilliant book, one of my best reads in the past 6 months. On one level is is a heart-breaking story of the consequences of growing up in foster care without love and affection, leading to feelings of being unworthy of love and affection (officially, attachment disorder). But this is also a story of redemption through flowers, especially by learning the language of flowers to enhance communication and the understanding of the complexity of relationships. For example, yellow roses means either jealousy or infidelity. The main character, Victoria, is a compelling, angry, destructive and often frustrating character who struggles to forgive and be forgiven. Amazing writing but keep a tissue box nearby!
This is the companion books to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and is even better. A wistful love story about the power of unrequited love. This is a magnificent, albeit sad, read.
Full disclosure – this is a disturbing book and not for the faint-hearted. The book details the events in early 1994 in Rwanda: the AIDS epidemic and mainly the Hutu-led genocide against the Tutsis. Amidst much death and brutal violence is a love story, the tender relationship between a Canadian journalist and a Rwandan woman who is Hutu but looks like a Tutsi. Issues of identity are crucial in the genocidal purge of “cockroaches”, the term the Hutu use to describe Tutsis to justify their extermination. Indifference from the UN and Western powers is described in detail, along with rampant corruption. This is a powerful book: how can love exist in this Rwandan hell?
A Good Death – Gil Courtemanche (perhaps best known for A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali). This is a very well-written story of a dysfunctional large family in Montreal. The patriarch has always been a mean—spirited nasty individual who now has had a stroke with the onset of Parkinson’s. Some members of his family speculate that everyone would be better off if he died. The question of how his death might be facilitated becomes an important theme. His eldest son states that “you can only kill individuals that you love or hate. In this case, the son has never loved his irascible father but can’t hate him because of his illness. This dilemma is resolved in an interesting ending.
A brilliant story about a 28 year-old woman who flees her husband and her NY life, to go to New Zealand. She continues to be lost. The writing is amazing, long disjointed sentences to mirror her aimless thoughts. And the ending is intriguing.