Review of Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost by Ardain Isma
This modern, aristocratic book portrays real-life events and how hard it is to deal with them, overcome them, or even struggle with them. Such is life, anywhere you put it, in the Caribbean or otherwise. Many people might have problems dealing with the material in this book. But it's involving, shocking, yet mellifluously elegant in its portrayal of a wealthy woman's humble and downtrodden existence. She cannot fathom the dark side of life, and in her pure yet misguided rebellion, she becomes a metaphoric symbol for humanity in general--not to mention impoverished, yet mysteriously happy.
Professor Ardain Isma's excellent first novel painstakingly describes the fact-based life story of Alicia Maldonado, a young, aristrocratic white woman born in Cuba to a land-owning family, members of a seemingly elite class. Alicia arrives in Haiti with her parents and older brother Mario after fleeing Cuba, following the political turmoil within the Batista regime. But what she discovers there is that, in its own way, there is no such thing as fleeing. What her family left behind had to catch up with her slowly, surely, like a creeping plague of sophisticated reality that could only draw to a bad conclusion...
She marries her next-door neighbor and best friend, Richard Laveaux, the son of a rich mulatto family, in spite of her mother's protests. The marriage is happy at first, and Alicia enjoys working for the family business and raising their two children. But the altogether too soon deaths of her father and her alcoholic husband raise questions in her mind about the sanity and purpose of her carefully kept upper-class existence.
Was she really meant to be happy, or is something else, a mysterious fate much darker and deeper, in store for her?
Unable to cope with her problems, Alicia leaves Haiti with her youngest child, Jean-Marie, and vanishes without a trace. None of her family or friends knows her exact whereabouts, and a prolonged and heated search for her begins. How does it ever end? How long must she suffer, and what happens?
You must find out, by reading this gripping, poignant and sophisticatedly charming book--full of the flavor of the islands, the richness of the soil, and the death of all meaning.
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Polish author Olga Tokarczuk won the £50,000 (about $67,170) Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, for her novel of linked fragments, Flights, translated by Jennifer Croft. The cash award is divided equally between author and translator, who also both receive £1,000 for being shortlisted.
Philip Roth, whose novel American Pastoral won a Pulitzer in 1998 but who was best-known for the controversial and explicit 1969 Portnoy's Complaint, has died at age 85.
Writing in The Washington Post, author and professor Sandra Beasley asks, "Do we continue to teach the work of people we now suspect of behaving unethically or abusively? ... As a reader, I'm devastated. As a teacher, I've got decisions to make..."
The romance-focused magazine Romantic Times, along with the RT Book Reviews, RT VIP Salon and RT Booklovers Convention brands, is shutting down after 37 years. The closure is effective immediately, and though the RT website will remain up for another year or so, there will be no new content in the future.
Philip Pullman has been named author of the year at the British Book Awards for his "outstanding" success.
The children's author was recognized after returning to the world of his Dark Materials with La Belle Sauvage last year. Awards organizers described Pullman as a "true one-off".
Gail Honeyman won book of the year for her best-selling debut Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Judges said it was "brilliantly written" and "the complete package".
Tom Wolfe, author of notable works such as The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, has died aged 88. In addition to his books, he was a pioneer of New Journalism, which developed in the 1960s and 1970s and involved writing from a subjective perspective as opposed to more traditional objective journalism. He was also known for coining phrases such as "radical chic" and "the me decade".
Last week, Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailer in the US, saw its stock price plunge nearly 8% just days after the New York Times published an editorial calling for the chain to be saved. "It's depressing to imagine that more than 600 Barnes & Noble stores might simply disappear," wrote columnist David Leonhardt. "But the death of Barnes & Noble is now plausible."
Author Jojo Moyes has pledged to save the British adult literacy program Quick Reads from closure by funding it for the next three years. She says she was "completely dumbfounded" on learning of the scheme's closure and is believed to have donated around £360,000 (well over US$500,000) to help it continue.
"Having written a Quick Reads myself [Paris for One, in 2015] and spoken to readers who had benefited from the scheme, I knew how important it was," she told The Bookseller. "It is relatively low cost and loved by authors, publishers and readers. At a time when libraries are ever more endangered, it seemed a completely regressive move to lose Quick Reads."
The Pulitzer Prize board has opened an independent review of sexual misconduct allegations against the award-winning novelist Junot Díaz, who is stepping down as chairman, the board said on Thursday.
"Mr. Díaz said he welcomed the review and would cooperate fully with it," the Pulitzer board said in a statement.
Mr. Díaz, who joined the board in 2010, was elevated to chairman last month, according to the organization. It said that Mr. Díaz asked to relinquish his role and that he would remain a part of the body.
Viet Thanh Nguyen argues that books by immigrants, foreigners and minorities don't diminish the 'classic' curriculum. They enhance it....
...We must read Shakespeare and authors who are women, Arab, Muslim, queer. Most of the world is neither white nor European, and the United States may be a majority-minority country by mid-century. White people will gain more by embracing this reality rather than fighting it. As for literature, the mind-set that turns the canon into a bunker in order to defend one dialect of English is the same mind-set that closes borders, enacts tariffs and declares trade wars to protect its precious commodities and its besieged whiteness. But literature, like the economy, withers when it closes itself off from the world. The world is coming anyway. It demands that we know ourselves and the Other...