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Comment: Ships 24/7 Direct from Amazon has normal wear from consistant use may have bent/creased pages or yellowed/aged or might have light dirt on edge. may have name/writing inside cover or a few pages. Intact with dust cover. This is a ex library book, stickers and markings accordingly. 100% Satisfaction when you order from 321 Books.
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Kamchatka Paperback – May 3, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this meandering English-language debut from Figueras, a 10-year-old Argentinean boy's whimsical inner life helps him both explain and digest his family's fate in the aftermath of the 1976 coup. When his parents' leftist activism forces the family into hiding, the boy decides to call himself Harry after his idol, Houdini. Ensconced in a villa outside Buenos Aires, Harry staves off the boredom of being in hiding by playing the board game Risk (his favorite territory being the novel's namesake), working out with the cool 18-year-old activist staying with the family, and fantastical forays into the lives of his various heroes—Superman, Aristotle, Arthur of Avalon—whose stories Harry relates to his own life with uninhibited passion. The reader knows from the first chapter that Harry's family will be torn apart, yet Figueras is intent on leaving out any "grown-up" facts that would explain the ordeal, focusing instead on Harry's reflections on the malleability of memory. Yet because of the narrator's young age, conclusions such as "Time is weird" might feel more astute if they were grounded in a more trenchant narrative. (May)
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Review

—Short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
—An O Magazine Summer Reading Pick


"Funny, wistful, and wise . . . [Kamchatka] suggests that our stories do not end, that heroism lies in one's ability to change, and that we all need a place where we can retreat to before we can learn to face the world again." —Tiffany Sun, O Magazine

“[A] generous, affecting novel.”—The New Yorker

“Subtle . . . Brilliantly observed, heartrending.”—Financial Times

“[Figueras] vividly evokes a child's reaction to a world beleaguered by violence. . . . [A] hopeful message about the healing powers of imagination and love.”—The New York Times

“Haunting . . . Warmhearted . . . [Kamchatka] unfolds with disarming simplicity. . . . Bursting with good humor, with a bittersweet, melancholy shadow, Figueras's superb novel amply illustrates that ‘laughing and crying at the same time is something life teaches you without you even noticing.’”—Shelf Awareness

“Interesting and insightful . . . Engrossing, often funny, and very, very unsettling.”—The Brooklyn Rail

Kamchatka is not a nostalgic book. Its narration is unconstrained and light, entwining and sympathetic. . . . Read it, and buy yourself a board game of Risk.”—Bookslut

“Stark and immediate, more moving because it is presented without sentimentality . . . [Written] with wry comedy . . . the tenderness breaks your heart.”—Booklist

“A masterpiece . . . Written in beautiful prose.”—De Telegraaf (Netherlands)

“Interesting and insightful . . . Engrossing, often funny, and very, very unsettling.”—The Brooklyn Rail

“Figueras writes with power and insight about the ways in which a child uses imagination to make sense of terrifying and baffling reality.”—The Times (UK)

“Tender, severe, moving, elegiac.”—El País (Spain)

“Brilliant.”—The Independent

“Like Carlos Eire’s wonderfully buoyant memoir of pre-revolutionary Cuba, Waiting for Snow in Havana, Figueras chooses to capture the drumbeat of history in the small, offbeat details of a boy’s life. . . . Tinged with a doomed innocence that comes shining through Figueras’s irrepressible telling . . . Kamchatka is a colorful, unforgettable vision of a boy’s—and nation’s—attempt to make sense of a descent into darkness and chaos. It is also a moving attempt to recapture the memory of the ‘disappeared’—a trick of fate that allows loved ones to re-appear by writing about them.”—Words Without Borders Magazine

Kamchatka is a superb novel that refracts public, political events through the sensibilities of everyday life. . . . Balances adult understanding and a child’s interests and anxieties. The language mediates between the two. Think not Melville, but the Mark Twain of Huckleberry Finn, yet starring a Huckleberry Finn who has read Melville. . . . Kamchatka came to me by chance. Don’t trust to such luck. Seek it out.”—J. Kates. The Arts Fuse (blog)

“This powerful novel brings to life the atmosphere of desperation following Argentina’s military coup of 1976. . . . A richly drawn, moving and memorable novel, a fine tribute to ‘los desaparecidos,’ Argentina’s ‘disappeared’”—Irish Examiner

“Figueras’s view of military dictatorship strikes a note that lingers for weeks.”—Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170873
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,558,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harkius VINE VOICE on May 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Overview:
This is a wonderful story. There is something almost dream-like about the enjoyable story, and the child-like innocence of the narrator as he and his family confront the military junta's activities in trying to suppress the college professors and the literate members of society. The perspective is almost unique, because there is a glimmer of the reality shining through his youthful impressions, like a palimpsest of the opression extant in the culture. While the story is not unique, the perspective elevates it beyond any similar tale that I've ever read.

A. Plot
The plot here is rendered in simplistic fashion, since it is told from the perspective of a child who has grown up under Peronist leadership. While it follows the general tropes of a coming-of-age story, it stops short of reaching maturity, leaving us with a story of a beautiful, sad, joyous time in the age of a child.

His parents, a lawyer and a teacher, are clearly within groups targeted by the military junta that overthrew the country in 1976. This story features the family of the narrator, "Harry" and their flight from Buenos Aires to a quinta in the countryside. It also details their lives there. While there, the family take on new names, reflecting their need to hide. The story details what happens to them in their exile.

B. Characters
The narrator, "Harry" is a wonderful character. He is open-minded (mostly), curious, and considerate child. Granted, some of this is likely to be a result of his own reflections about himself as a child, rather than an actual child's behavior, but it was still pleasant not to read about a child who is a miserable little jerk (like his brother, "Simon").
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The past is neither dead nor past in Marcelo Figueras' beautifully crafted Kamchatka.

The Kamchatka Peninsula is the northeastern-most part of Russia and the old Soviet Union. It is surrounded by the Bering Sea, the Arctic, and the Pacific oceans. It was a cold-forbidding place, one that served as the destination point for thousands of Soviet citizens sent to spend time in the Gulag. It is also one of geographic points of interest in the old military board game Risk. The idea of Kamchatka, as set out in the board game, as a place of exile, and ultimately as a place of refuge forms the emotional core of the book around which the story revolves.

Set in Argentina in 1976, Kamchatka is the story of a young boy and his family. Argentina in 1976 was a dangerous place. The regime of Isabel Peron was ousted in a military coup followed by some extraordinarily repressive measures against suspected opponents of the junta. Thousands of people disappeared and most all of them were murdered. Kamchatka is the story of one family. Kamchatka is told in the form of a memoir written by Harry as he is known to us. Harry was 10 when the story begins. His parents are opponents of the regime and in short order Harry and his family flee from Buenos Aires to a secluded `summer cottage' where they can, hopefully, survive until the troubles are over. The family all take new names, the boy chooses to become Harry in honor of his boyhood hero, Harry Houdini.

The act of memory, of remembering, is critical to the story-line. Early on Figueras writes that sometimes, "as I remember, my voice is that of the ten-year-old boy I was then; sometimes the voice of the seventy-year-old man I am yet to be; sometimes it is my voice, at the age I am now . . . or the age I think I am.
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I have been interested in Argentina for a long time but do not often find satisfying novels about this country, especially about the dirty war. This novel informs the reader about Argentina's tragic history without being violent or overly detailed. Kamchatka is the story of how history affects one family, told with humor, poetry and pathos. A book like this might easily have veered into sentimentality or sermon, but the author handles it perfectly; leaving us haunted, moved, and having learned a great deal about the history and the wounds of the people of Argentina. I look forward to reading more from this writer!
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I thought his perspective was refreshingly different. It was fun to go through the memories of a young boy, even if I didn't agree with his politics. I also wish he had added more of an explanation at the end. The story just sort of stopped, it was kind of disappointing.
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You know what I mean -- one of those books with a voice that speaks to you in such a way that you hate to let the dialogue end; one of those books that moves in uninvited and you not only fail to feel indignant, you wonder what took it so long; one of those books like you used to read and love as a kid in the way only kids can seem to love books. Yeah, one of those.

And the surprise is this. There's little if any plot to the book. Through the winning voice of a 10-year-old boy, Marcelo Figueras wins you over with each flip of the page. The characterization and voice are marvelous. Looking back on his youth, the narrator is both innocent and savvy, immature and sophisticated, as he looks through a glass darkly at Argentina in the 70s during a military coup. With his parents -- two Peronists -- and his little bed-wetting brother, the Midget, the boy adopts the name of his hero, Harry Houdini, escape artist. They leave the city and take refuge in a safe house in the country.

Most of the book takes place in this pastoral setting, and although they are in hiding from thugs and killers, the book is not a high suspense piece. Rather, it comes across as an idyll of sorts. It's as if we are privileged to be let in on these people's lives, to watch Harry try to master knots and escapes, to witness him and his brother fishing dead toads out of the slimy swimming pool, to hear the badinage and the teasing between the foursome and a mysterious 18-year-old named "Lucas" who joins them. The mother, a scientist, cannot cook to save her life. The father cannot stand to lose at Risk -- the source of the book's name (gamers will recognize it as the easternmost province in Russia across from Alaska).
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