Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $9.60 shipping
Foreign: A Novel Hardcover
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
As a writer, I'm painfully aware of the bones of stories when I read. Sometimes I can still get lost in masterful storytelling, but there is usually a part of my brain that watches the process. I didn't read much about this book, not even the full inner flap because I hate spoilers, and it began to reveal too much. I knew nothing of the author. But already in chapter 1 on Aurora Bridge in Seattle I felt a stiffness of statistics and manipulation of information that made me suspect...and in chapter 2 when it wraps to tie in with the suicides in the village I knew - this writer is a journalist. It's the only problem in this otherwise outstanding story. Not because facts come into it-they are most worthy of telling- but because the characters like the incredibly alive Gayatribai and vivid scenes like dressing for the mass-wedding are unevenly paired with others that come across more wooden and seemed programmed to the purpose of the news behind the story or the structure of stories done correctly. The organic growth of story feels stunted, or perhaps harshly pruned is a better metaphor, in spots. And in those moments I doubt the story. I feel it is a perfectly constructed ruse just written to teach me instead of the story of those I'm coming to know and want to love. It creates distance when I do understand their plight instead of moving me to reach out to them and work for justice by their sides.
I wanted to be swept away in the manner I have been by other writers with origins in India. They are some of the best I've read. I want the ancient earth and colors and smells and hearts of the people to carry the anguish and struggle and beauty of this culture to me. There are moments and scenes where this happens in FOREIGN. And it happens in the characters, imagery that becomes movingly poetic, and even in the newsworthy action. In the scene of the protest Gayatribai sings for me. The depth and poignancy of her soul and actions come bursting out of the hardcover and will stay with me for a long time. It is well worth reading for these moments, and it shows that Sonora Jha, this journalist, is also a novelist and has potential to be a master...but not yet. It is her first novel after all. And a fabulous one. But I hope her characters will live their own full lives next time and the story will unfold from within all of them even when it doesn't quite fit the points to be made and doesn't quite wrap on every nuance foreshadowed. Allowing the story to breathe more would make this story breathtaking. It is still one to inhale deeply and to finish reading with a long sigh. Contentment, new understanding, sadness, resignation, resolve? That sigh is complex. Job well done, Sonora Jha.
Knitting fiction and non-fiction together in a deeply felt debut novel, Sonora Jha presents a fresh, exciting and important voice in the world of fiction.
Do not miss this one!