Summer Reading Book #1: …

Summer Reading Book #1: Sofia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria

Okay, so I promised you one paragraph book reports on my summer reading, but I just can't do this one, because Sofia is a good friend and I am impossibly biased. But I did promise. All right, I'm going to say one small critical thing. Sofia, cover your eyes for the rest of this paragraph. Ready? Eyes covered? All right, you've been warned. My only critique is that the opening chapters are a bit slow. I'm sorry, I'm sorry -- I know, you opened your eyes, you saw it, I still love you and your book, forgive me. Come to Chicago, Sofia, and I will make you Sri Lankan curries until you're so stuffed that you can't remember that I ever even read your book, much less said something critical about it. I'm only mentioning it because I'm a little afraid that other readers will also find the opening a bit slow, and they might give up, not realizing that the book is going to pick up speed very shortly and the beautiful language and awesome story and maddening characters will sweep them away. They won't be able to put the book down, if they just have the tiniest bit of patience at the beginning. And I wouldn't even worry about it if this were mainstream fiction, but genre readers (I love you all) are not known for their patience with books that are the tiniest bit slow at the beginning. But if they stick with it, they will be carried away into a world of books and beauty and stories and grief that is reminiscent of Calvino's _If On a Winter's Night, a Traveller_ and Rushdie's _Midnight's Children_ and Scheherazade's _One Thousand and One Nights_ and Guy Gavriel Kay's _Tigana_. And if they give up too soon, they will miss it all and be sad. They will walk around with a nameless ache in their heart and they won't even know why they are so sad. So I thought I should warn them; it's for their own good. And I know it's hard on the poor author, but it's too late to worry about the author now; now is the time to concentrate on the book. Dear book. Dear Jevick, my darling foolish boy. You are a deeply frustrating protagonist, and I didn't realize that I was signing up for a picaresque when I opened the book, but after all your wanderings, you made it all worthwhile in the end. So there's my one paragraph, and I have kept my promise. Enjoy.

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