Part eulogy, part fond memoir, part political thriller, this novel resurrects the forgotten literary phenomenon that was Pearl S. Buck, and it renews one’s admiration for both Buck and Min. China has always been a subject of fascination and inquiry for Westerners.
This, Rose Melikan’s debut novel, is far more entertaining and plausible than the second novel in the series, The Counterfeit Guest (2009). She starts well, but cannot sustain the style in the subsequent novels. Call it writer’s fatigue if you wish, but it went from OK to bad.
The unusual convergence of western literary references and eastern subject matter and style made Sijie’s first novel, “Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress” instantly successful, and in “Mr Muo and his Travelling Couch” he repeated this recipe of multiple subtexts.
It is a feature of Enquist’s writing that he builds fascinating fiction around fairly small and obscure historical references. In this case the reference is a painting by Andre Brouillet, that depicts a female patient of 19th century Neurologist, Dr. J.M. Charcot.
“The Piano Maker” is a historical romance, well-researched, with interesting detail, no anachronisms that I could pick up, with a twist of romance and mystery, competently written. However, the author fails to address the connection between artistic consciousness and the world, and the book has too many unconnected themes.
De Robertis succeeds in this novel by stimulating the reader’s mind though her descriptions of the development of the tango as an art form, the dancers and performers of the tango, the history of drag artists’ involvement in the tango, and the history of Buenos Aires.
Julian Barnes is a writer who does not waste words. While his subjects are often difficult and his novels contain references to specialized subjects, his writing is accessible to all readers through his clear ideas, deep understanding, and well-considered use of language.