by Téa Obreht
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Two narratives of the American west, one a little more traditional though still unique and the other quite original. The more traditional story is of a mother in Arizona enduring a drought and trying to defend and provide for her family and homestead. This narrative occurs over the course of one day, but with many backstories to explain the myriad characters of this small town going through change. There are ghosts, visions, and fears of a wild beast, so this story has its features unique to a Western.
The other story is about a Middle Eastern immigrant who becomes involved in the Camel Corps of the US Army. This story draws upon a historical reality, but an unfamiliar one. While a Middle easterner on a camel riding the West is unique, there are traditional elements in this story--the lawman spending his life hunting a criminal, the woman who provides comfort and refuge for a time, journeys across the varied landscapes. At least one violent section of this story resonates with something out of Cormac McCarthy.
I found the novel enjoyable and marvelous. A fascinating perspective on a traditional American genre written by an immigrant from Yugoslavia.
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