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Book Title: Marshlands|
The author of the book: Matthew Olshan
ISBN 13: 9780374199395
Edition: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date of issue: February 4th 2014
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 376 KB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 5.6
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“A first novel of considerable maturity: powerful, original, cunningly constructed, and timely.” —Julian Barnes, author of The Sense of an Ending
After years alone in a cell, an aging prisoner is released without explanation, expelled into a great city now utterly unfamiliar to him. Broken by years of brutality at the hands of the prison guards, he scrounges for scraps, sleeping wild, until a museum curator rescues him from an assault. The museum has just opened its most controversial exhibit: a perfect replica of the marshes, an expansive wilderness still wracked by conflict. There the man had spent years as a doctor among the hated and feared marshmen, who have been colonized but never conquered.
Then Marshlands reveals one of its many surprises: it is written in reverse. The novel leaps backward once, twice, returning to the marshes and unraveling time to reveal the doctor’s ambiguous relationship to the austerely beautiful land and its people. As the pieces of his past come together, a great crime and its consequences begin to take shape. The true nature of the crime and who committed it will be saved for the breathtaking ending—or, rather, for the beginning.
In the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger’s The Marsh Arabs and J. M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Marshlands explores a culture virtually snuffed out under Saddam Hussein, and how we cement our identities by pointing at someone to call “other.” Elegant, brief, and searing, Matthew Olshan’s Marshlands shivers with the life of a fragile, lost world.
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Read information about the authorI tend to think about stories in terms of the energy they release.
Some stories are a long slow burn of pathos; others flash before your eyes in a burst of delirium or delight. Still others seem to detonate inside of you, clearing the way for a new understanding.
A few exceedingly rare stories somehow manage to catalyze all of these reactions. Those are the most mysterious of all.
As a reader, I’m interested in all of these strange forms of combustion. A brilliant kids’ book is just as dazzling to me as a heartbreaking literary novel. I can’t imagine being fascinated by fireworks but somehow ignoring the subtle pleasure of the Northern Lights.
Unfortunately, we live in an era of specialization. The publishing world depends, like any business, on market segmentation and branding. It says: “You are a writer of children’s books;” or “You are a writer of serious books for grown-ups.” This poses a challenge to the writer who wants to experiment with stories in all their infinite diversity.
I’m a curious fellow. I like to learn how to do new things. This has led me to study languages living and dead; fly airplanes; sing Renaissance polyphony; restore antique machines; cook as if I were a citizen of every continent; renovate houses; croak like a Tuvan throat singer; soup-up computers; build a mud oven.
Through it all, there has always been writing. Novels, screenplays, children’s books, op-eds, letters, poems. Writing, like marriage, involves doing the same thing every day, but with fresh eyes and a willing heart.
In other words, it is a discipline: sometimes glorious, often maddening, but always new.
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