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Sea of Tears: A Novel Paperback – December 28, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (December 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582433038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582433035
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,309,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Love is in the air at the Royale, a Washington, D.C., hotel inhabited by a motley collection of emotionally wounded and desperately lonely folk in this third novel by Powers (The Good Remains; Crawling at Night). Maintenance man Jedra Abdullah secretly pines for pretty, troubled front desk clerk, Phyllis, who speaks the ancient tongues, sees angels and has memories of heaven. A Persian engineer, Khouri Karimi, attends a conference at the hotel and meets Patricia, a single mother working as a maid. And in the penthouse apartment, Daniel Espiritu dreams of Brazil and composes a cookbook, My Life in Recipes, in a desperate attempt to evoke his lush homeland and his doomed affair with the family maid. This fantasy sustains Daniel until Leslie, the hotel chef, knocks at his door. In her lushly lyrical voice, Power fashions a world filled with orphans who cling to ritualistic traditions and the romance of their pasts. The story lines echo each other too often, and Power's characters cleave to type—the women are mostly blonde and voluptuous, and the men dark, lean and foreign—but Power weaves a fine yarn of the lost and lonely seeking intimacy and love.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Power's penchant for crafting quirky characters who unite in unexpected ways is again apparent in her third novel (following The Good Remains, 2002), a tale of six lonely people whose lives intersect in a Washington, D.C., hotel. Jedra, an engineer working in the basement, saw his younger brother killed in Iraq. He is inexplicably attracted to Phyllis, in reception, knowing that she, too, is lonely and single and has just had a miscarriage. Since childhood Phyllis has been able to "see heaven," and after she meets Jedra, his brother's spirit speaks to her. Another mismatched couple consists of Khouri, an Iranian immigrant whose mother and sister both recently died and whose spirits surround him "like a shawl of guilt," and Patricia, a maid raising her young son herself. Last are Daniel, a schizophrenic in residence, and Leslie, the new chef. Focusing on love and the loss of it, Power's translucent and fluid prose expresses her characters' feelings and memories as she lays bare the insecurities and fears of six fragile souls for whom love is really all there is. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Anastas on January 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In her third and latest novel, The Sea of Tears, Nani Power pushes the narrative envelope while also taking some impressive risks in language and form, particularly in her use of metafictional techniques. The characters, Americans, lost or living marginal lives, and recent Iraqi and Iranian immigrants, also struggling to survive in and understand an often baffling American way of life, are vivid, fascinating and truly authentic. Power takes the reader into cultures that, due to the prejudices of xenophobia, have come to be seen as "other," when they are really part of the extraordinary diversity of the human condition. She invites us to welcome the food, the languages, the consciousness and sensibility of the Middle East instead of writing off refugees from those little understood countries and cultures as potential "terrorists;" and Power addresses that failure with great irony in her story of Jedra, the hotel's Iraqi boiler room "engineer" and the building's disaster, which he foresees and tries to communicate to its management with tragi-comic consequences. The American characters, from Phyllis and Patricia to the amazing Bostich, are beautifully portrayed, while the venerable Hotel Royale in Washington, D.C. where the action of the novel is mostly set, like the restaurant in Power's first book, Crawling at Night, and the hospital in her second, The Good Remains, becomes a powerful setting for the novel and metaphor for the society around it, as well as a tense narrative pressure cooker. I also admired the way she weaves the poetry of Rumi, the 13th century Persian mystic, which appears as epigraphs and chapter headings, into the narrative and the characters' thoughts, so that they and the themes the poems underscore become inseparable. A Sea of Tears is an extraordinary novel, worthy of serious literary consideration and reading for the pure enjoyment of the story and Power's fine prose.
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Format: Paperback
Honestly, I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to stories about love. This one, however, won me over in so many ways. This book is truly an experience, at times fierce, filled with sadness/loneliness/longing and has such beautiful poignant moments that break through to be felt only with the heart. This is how love really works - nothing superficial or juvenile. I finished it and couldn't pick up any of the other books I had in my stack, this one was too beautiful and honest for me to jade its sweetness for awhile. Very much worth the read. Sensual in the way that you can feel, hear, see, smell, and taste the experiences in the book. Magical.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
I always enjoys stories set in hotels, and this is not exception. From Grand Hotel to Arthur Hailey's HOTEL from which the famous TV series was based, through the Hotel New Hampshire and John Wieners' Hotel Wentley Poems, hotels are an irresistible analogue for lie and its Bede-like in one window and out the other quality. We check in, then what seems a minute later, we check out. Third time novelist Nani Power makes a remarkable recovery after her disappointing second book THE GOOD REMAINS, by switching from the old CHRISTMAS CAROL madrigal to a vision of lonely people connected only the tenuous holds of room service and lobby switchboard.

Success in this kind of novel depends on how fascinating you can make your guests and management. Does anyone today remember Charlotte Armstrong's magnificent 50s novel THE SEVENTEEN WIDOWS OF SANS SOUCI? Nani Power echoes some of Armstrong's lyrical, yet unflinching power, as she narrows her gaze in on five or six lonely, disfunctional people, some of them deracinated from other culturs and transplanted to the cold shores of Washington D.C. Like the lovers in Edith Wharton's late novel THE CHILDREN, the hotel guests of THE SEA OF TEARS makes us realize how fragile life is and what an impossibility love is, even when you have it. Her quirky humor is an asset. In a moment of extreme tension, the "boombox still was on, anmd Josh Groban was singing through all of this." However the short, short sentences are not telling enough, we have no idea finally what Power's own take on her characters is. Funny because in her last book she explained far too much and left us numb with preaching. It's a fast ride, however, and I know that Nani Power's thousands of fans will lap this one up too. For the rest of us, I leave you with Anne Sexton's bleak advice, "Flee, flee this sad hotel."
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By litany webb on February 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a great book, Nani Power's best one yet. If you liked Crawling at Night, you'll love this one!! Buy it now!
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Sea of Tears: A Novel
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