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The Foreigners Hardcover – August 18, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Swann, an American who has lived in Buenos Aires for the past decade, vividly evokes the city and its lively, diverse, and conflicted social landscape, from the denizens of posh hotels to the unfortunate poor living in the city’s slums. . . . Seductively hard to put down.”—The Boston Globe
 
“The three women in Maxine Swann’s The Foreigners hope to leave their worries behind by plunging into the wild glamour of Buenos Aires, but find even greater surprises when the stumble into the recesses of their own lives.”—W
 
“Post-crash Buenos Aires is the nourish setting of Maxine Swann’t The Foreigners, in which an untethered American divorcee dabbles in increasingly risky funny games with the help of a local provocateuse.”—Vogue
 
“The city of Buenos Aires dazzles in this novel about three women who find sex, adventure, and more sex in the Paris of South America.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“The city of Buenos Aires dazzles in this novel about three women who find sex, adventure, and more sex in the Paris of South America.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Atmospheric, evocative literary fiction that ruminates on what it means and how it feels to be foreign.”—Booklist
 
“Whether native or foreigner, each character is displaced and wrestles with the outcome. With lyricism and observational skill that recalls early Joan Didion, Swann brings Buenos Aires to life.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Beautifully written, sensual and seductive.”—Kirkus
 

About the Author

Maxine Swann is the author of Serious Girls and Flower Children, for which she received the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has also been awarded the Ploughshares' Cohen Award for best fiction of the year, an O. Henry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize, and her work has been included in The Best American Short Stories of 1998 and 2006. Swann, who has also lived in Paris and Pakistan, has been living in Buenos Aires since 2001.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (August 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488306
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,288,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on August 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This short, rather disjointed novel, set in Buenos Aires, supposedly explores the significance of being a foreigner in a city of inflated, anxious cultural expectations and performance. According to the author, Argentines are intrigued by Americans and Europeans, especially the French, and, at least initially, scramble to have the newest foreigner attend their soirees. The vehicles for this examination are three thirty-or-so unattached females - Leonarda, an Argentine, Isolde, an Austrian, and Daisy, a recent divorcee from the US.

There is no plot, per se. Told mostly from Daisy's perspective, non-stop, minimally satisfying social encounters are the focus, whether it be bar-hopping or attending cultural affairs. The only interesting character is Leo, with her energy and her impulsiveness to change her appearance and her tastes in sexual endeavors. Isolde has an unmistakable aristocratic persona, but ultimately lacks the resources to pull it off. Daisy is mostly out of her element, being completely infatuated with Leonarda, though that relationship is more puzzling than interesting.

The book is disappointing; it simply lacks coherence, continuity, development, etc. Even the sexual encounters are mostly uninspired. A few details about Buenos Aires are included, but any real feel for a city with apparently great extremes of wealth is lacking. Curiously, the characters wander around the city with seemingly little concern for their safety. The original idea for the book has promise, but the reader is taken on a mostly dead-end journey.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Penumbra on September 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In recent years Buenos Aires has become a popular setting for novels, and it is painfully apparent that many authors who set their stories in Argentina have never been there. Maxine Swann is an exception. It's obvious from page one that Ms. Swann has intimate knowledge of both Buenos Aires and the expat community of Americans and Europeans who live there.

"The Foreigners" comes alive in the paragraphs and pages that describe Buenos Aires and the generalized fish-out-of-water expat experience there. I read this slender novel in one afternoon because I loved reading these descriptions.

The book completely went off the rails in dealing with the relationship between the protagonist, a 35 year old American woman who comes to BA to recover from a painful divorce, and her Argentine friend, Leonarda. As the story progresses the characters don't exactly grow and develop as much as they become bizarre, unbelievable, and utterly unlikeable. Finally Leonarda states, "I'm not evolved. I am the future. I'm like post-human." Unfortunately, that's a pretty good summation of this character.

Another friend, an Austrian expat named Isolde, relies on her blonde good looks, fabulous wardrobe and jewelry, and impeccable manners to attempt a level of social climbing in Argentina that she wouldn't dare try at home. Isolde's problems basically stem from having champagne taste without money or career skills, and an unfortunate tendency to turn job interviews into dates and come across as easy when she should be serious.

The three women characters left me cold but I give the book three stars for the wonderful way in which Ms. Swann deals with the city of Buenos Aires.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer Since Amazon Sold Only Books TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really, REALLY wanted to give a full review of this book...but I just couldn't get through it. The writing was SO hard to follow, and the style felt as if two people were writing it--one person who was overly tedious, overusing their thesaurus to impress the reader with all of the extraneous and complicated words--the other simple and vague. The switching back and forth drove me nuts. I had a friend who also read a lot give it a try and even he couldn't make it past the first couple of chapters.

I have always refused to read anything (for fun) that wasn't interesting and well-written. I tried--I really did--to get through it anyway, but I just couldn't. I don't want to write any spoilers--I'm sure there are other reviews that tell you all about the storyline. Let me just say that if you are looking for a challenging read--something that is hard to get from page to page--then this book is for you.

The storyline had promise--I was excited to read it. But I just couldn't get through it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JoLynn on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There are three main characters in this novel set in Buenos Aires :

Daisy, an American, who has just gone through an upsetting divorce;
Isolde, Austrian, an increasingly desperate social climber;
Leonarda, a native of Argentina, who seems to crave adventure and excitement at any cost.

First of all, the descriptions of life and society in Buenos Aires were quite absorbing. The narrative and detail in these parts of the book was lucid and compelling. Isolde's thread in the book was also thought provoking, as were the obstacles and decisions she was faced with. However, the characters of Daisy and Leo seemed to me at best unlikeable, and at times totally bizarre. Ultimately, I found myself not caring about their story whatsoever, and rather confused about what they were trying to accomplish. I also thought it rather inexplicable that the outrageous character of Leo seemed to settle down so abruptly at the end of the book. Ultimately, this felt like three very separate parts forced together into one book.
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