Monday, October 31, 2011
Turtle Beach by Blanche d'Alpuget
Judith is an Australian journalist sent to cover the refugee crisis situation in Malaysia in 1979. To get access to the refugee camps, she tentatively befriends Minou, a part Chinese wife of a diplomat who offends all the ladies of the political inner circle that she comes across by being as crass as possible. Judith is also dealing with her failing marriage and crosses paths with Kanan, an Indian who she is attracted to and who wants to bring her to some sort of liberated state. All of this slowly progresses to its tragic outcome as Minou waits for her family to show up on the shores on the turtle beach.
Genre: historical; world historical fiction
Notes: Malaysia: World Historical Fiction
An interesting book. I initially thought it was set in an earlier time period or I probably would have skipped on it. There was a lot of what I consider "awards pandering" in it where nothing really happens, but it's talked about a lot. I've always considered that someone trying to write an "important" novel. Usually it involves casual shocking talk about sex, people musing about the failings of life, someone speculating on religion, and general malaise. This book was no different. I could have stood without a lot of the important languishing in the inner moral decay of the characters. I was more interested in what Minou was really trying to do. She was a less than likable character, but she was sympathetic, unlike a lot of the characters who just seem to swan around commenting on stuff.
The book was sometimes hard to follow who was doing what, but the depiction of Malaysia was interesting, if not really flattering. The refugee situation is also something I knew nothing about and it really did seem to be a tragedy. Malaysia was a clash of cultures and religions and the end result was something not particularly pretty a lot of the time. An interesting book, though not as important as I think it would have liked to be.