A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things is a masterwork from a writer in full command of his many talents.
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachingshis Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.
Marked by the same bravura storytelling and precise language that made The Crimson Petal and the White such an international success, The Book of Strange New Things is extraordinary, mesmerizing, and replete with emotional complexity and genuine pathos.
THY WILL BE DONE
FORTY MINUTES LATER
HE WAS UP IN THE SKY.
I was going to say something," he said.
"So say it," she said.
He was quiet, keeping his eyes on the road. In the darkness of the city's outskirts, there was nothing to see except the tail-lights of other cars in the distance, the endless unfurling roll of tarmac, the giant utilitarian fixtures of the motorway.
"God may be disappointed in me for even thinking it," he said.
"Well," she sighed, "He knows already, so you may as well tell me."
He glanced at her face, to judge what mood she was in as she said this, but the top half of her head, including her eyes, was veiled in a shadow cast by the edge of the windscreen. The bottom half of her face was lunar bright. The sight of her cheek, lips and chinso intimately familiar to him, so much a part of life as he had known itmade him feel a sharp grief at the thought of losing her.
"The world looks nicer with man-made lights," he said.
Beautifully written, The Book of Strange New Things is difficult to categorize but, ultimately, it is a story of love transcending the boundaries of time and space. Peter, a Christian missionary must choose between the love he has for the natives on a very distant planet called Oasis, and his wife back on Earth. The choice, obviously, is not an easy one and Peter's struggles with it are heartfelt (Anna S).
(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (1116 words).
Michel Faber is considered Dutch in the Netherlands, which is where he was born; Australian in Australia, because he lived there for so long; and Scottish in Scotland, where he emigrated with his wife and family in 2003. To say this award-winning writer is revered is an understatement.
Born in 1960 in The Hague, Faber studied Dutch, Philosophy, Rhetoric, and English Language at Melbourne University. After graduating in 1980 he took various jobs such as a cleaner, pickle packer and guinea pig for medical research until he decided to train as a nurse in Sydney. He practiced nursing until 1993 when he and his family moved to Scotland. It was there that his wife encouraged him to submit his writing – a practice that he had engaged in ...
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