Author Name: Marguerite Duras
Publisher: The New Press/New York
Type of book: Adult, historical, 1930s? Vietnam, interracial, white female/asian male relationship
Year it was published: 1992
Hailed in France as "an incomparable pleasure," Marguerite Duras's newest novel is a fascinating retelling of the dramatic experiences of her adolescence that have shaped her work. Far more daring and truthful than any book she has written before, it emphasizes the realities of her youth in Indochina nad reveals much that her earlier works concealed. An instant number-one bestseller in France, The North CHina Lover both shocks and entrances its readers. Initially written as notes toward a film-script for The Lover, the book has the grainy, filmic qualties of a documentary. For all who admired Duras's previous work, here is an exciting and unexpected reading of her past-a work the French critics called a return to "the Duras of the great books and the great days."
Although other characters do play a role, such as Helene Lagonelle, or the younger brother or the mother and older brother, and also Thanh, a foster brother, the main primary characters are the girl and the man. The girl can best be described as a survivor while the mother is not there and is ignorant. The book tends to constantly remind us that the man is Chinese, Manchurian actually. He is portrayed as rich, a weakling, sort of violent on some parts.
The theme is trying to fight your past to live in the future, and often, the things that should be special or meaningful to people aren't what we make them out to be.
The plot doesn't begin things at the start, but it starts in that particular season of 1930, and slowly few things are revealed here and there. Still though, one doesn't learn enough about the girl and the man; and it becomes an incomplete novel. There is also a great deal of information on the Vietnam of 1930, of the people and lives one witnesses.
Marguerite Duras is one of France's most important literary figures. She is the author of such acclaimed novels as Blue Eyes, Black Hair, The Sailor From Gibraltar, and The Lover, as well as the film script for Hiroshima, Mon Amour and the memoir The War. Born in Indochina in 1914, she now lives in Paris. (From back of book.)
Originally I heard of this book in 2005 or possibly 2006, I forget because of the movie The Lover. I did research and did discover that it was based on a book. I wanted to get the book, L'Amant, so when I came to Half Price Books, I discovered that this was the only Duras book they had, or was it possibly that I did research on the book and decided to get this one because it seemed thicker? I have to admit that at the time this was the most unusual book I ever read because of the sentence structure and language used in there. I marveled that I could feel emotions when I read none and wondered how it was. Although subsequent readings didn't have big impact on me, but at the beginning they had, and later on I started to copy my writing style based on the way the book is written. Here's a sample of the language. (From page 55) "They're in the cool shade. They dance. There's sunlight coming through a high window, like in a prison, or a convent, so the men can't come in. Disturbing in their own right, their unbuckled sandals lie where they've been thrown, in a corner in the sun." I will talk more about the book in my next editorial.
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)