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The King of Limbo and Other Stories (Sewanee Writers' Series) Hardcover – November 12, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harun's debut is a disparate collection of delicately crafted, intelligent stories that have gained attention individually, though read together they lack cohesion. The narrator of the title story is a boy named William who has just reluctantly celebrated his sixth birthday in the midst of confusion over his parents' breakup; his dog, Goodwood, found during the spring his parents married, is dying of cancer, and William wants desperately to believe in the wisdom and nobility of the knights in castles he reads about. In the opening story, "Lukudi" (meaning "wealthmagic"), a young Nigerian man, Natife, who appears as William's friend in the title tale, devotes his old world village healing powers to the peer counseling of a disturbed 16-year-old Connecticut girl whom he visits as part of his school's extra credit program. Natife is convinced that "someone was doing juju" on the girl, Ally Reisch, who has "the pink rheumy eyes and frail blondness of an old woman on her way to bone and ash." His gift to her, a lighter given in a joyful impulse, is the instrument of her first and only act of salvation. Harun plays with the reader's expectations, though wisely does not give in to them, best evidenced in a perplexing, brief tale about unexplained human disappearances that won a Story magazine competition, "The Unseen Ear of God." In another gently paced piece, "The Eighth Sleeper of Ephesus" (winner of the Nelson Algren Award), an old man who seems destroyed by the death of his beloved wife takes on a startling, tender new persona in letters he writes to a newspaper. The potential that Harun reveals in this collection is immense, though a more tightly focused collection or a novel might showcase her strengths to better effect.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

A varied, highly interesting debut collection....Unusual and sophisticated work from a gifted newcomer. -- Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Harun is a witty, sure-handed writer whose work shines with real originality. -- Baltimore Sun

Harun's tales occupy an alluringly dark dimension, one that is both mystical and also eminently recognizable. -- New York Newsday

The stories in Adrianne Harun's debut collection "The King of Limbo" sparkle like expertly cut gems. -- The Denver Post

These uprooted lives read like dreamscapes spun from fierce realities, in prose radiating intelligence, panache, and wild humor. -- O--The Oprah Magazine
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Product Details

  • Series: Sewanee Writers' Series
  • Hardcover: 175 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; First Edition edition (November 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585671932
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585671939
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,384,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Gretchen Laskas on December 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm not surprised to see this writer being written about in the big review newspapers such as The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Adrianne Harun's THE KING OF LIMBO is a sublime collection of stories, haunting and elegant at the same time. Filled with unusual people, the reader can't help but feel a connection with these characters, even in the most unlikely of circumstances.
I suspect we will be seeing great things from this writer for some time to come.
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By A Customer on March 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Adrianne Harun, author of The King of Limbo is quite possibly royalty herself. Harun is masterful in her craft, and the queen of seeing the world through various perspectives.
In this compilation of ten (20-or-so-paged) short stories, Harun provides deliberate outlooks from vastly contrasted characters and secondary characters. She captures the roles of a Nigerian exchange student and the troubled girl he perceives to be under the grips of an evil juju spell; a woman who has lost a child and the elderly couple whose house she drunkenly plows her car into; and in the title story, a six-year-old boy, his mother, and the same Nigerian exchange student -- only now, he's all grown up. In these brilliantly detailed vignettes, Harun lends her readers a pattern (which is sometimes formulaic, but nonetheless satisfying) of a rich anecdote or situation infused with cryptic feeling descriptions, followed by an explanation of such emotions, and then finished with a drastic -- or at least surprising -- concluding character action.
The best model of such development is in the book's first story, Lukudi. Natife, the aforementioned Nigerian exchange student, is working with a local girl as an extra credit project. He "pedal[s] hard on...[a] borrowed mountain bike..." down the street heading towards the stable at which she lives, to meet with her for the sixth of their peer counseling meetings. Natife is described as, "resplendent...this tall young man in a silky fuschia tracksuit." When meets Ally, the troubled girl that he has taken a friendly liking to, the reader can clearly see the images and events unfolding; but it is only after information of both character's pasts are revealed that the real issues of the story become apparent.
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By A Customer on November 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book you dont want to put down and also the
kind you want to reread in case you missed something. It is a
neat book to put on your overnight guest's night table and the kind you want to recommend to others. Hat's off to this author;
she is not a run of the mill writer and has offered us stories
that are exciting and enjoyable.
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By A Customer on October 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I just stumbled across the paperback edition of these stories and couldn't be more pleased. The characters are not so unique as their perceptions and responses to the world around them. Harun takes ordinary feelings of pain and loneliness and spins them out in new patterns so that the stories are new and imaginative. Her style is fluid and mesmerizing and each story has-I wouldn't say a surprise ending-but a sort of twist on the character's reality; she doesn't hit you over the head with it but arrives there gracefully. Hard to put down and I definitely look forward to more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Adrianne Harun's tales are of haunted people populating haunted environments. Destiny, misfortune and near misses make each story suspenseful and delightfully creepy.
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