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Dogs At The Perimeter (2011)

by Madeleine Thien(Favorite Author)
3.8 of 5 Votes: 4
0771084080 (ISBN13: 9780771084089)
McClelland & Stewart
review 1: This book is a masterpiece. The subject is often disturbing (atrocities of the Khmer Rouge) yet is gripping and interesting as presented by Madeleine. I learned a great deal about this terrible time through this book. I loved how the author told the story through the lives of people living in Canada today - characters whose actions in their current life seem illogical and strange, until you see these actions in the context of what they had endured before coming to this country. Madeleine is a gifted storyteller who has a poetic (but not heavyhanded!) way with prose that is simply stunning. She is also a lovely person I have been privileged to get to know a bit, so "hearing" the book in her voice in my head as I was reading it added to its beauty. Madeleine Thien is a lite... morerary treasure!
review 2: This is an important book. It is not so much a history book. The author talked about how she doesn't have the right to write about the disaster of Cambodia, at least from a causeal perspective -- my interpretation of her talk I attended. This is a story of people impacted by the events of 1975-1979 -- the evacuation of Phnom Penh, the 'killing fields', the escapes, and the afterlives.She chooses to tell the story from a thematic perspective -- lost identities, many lives, the etherealness of self, all for the sake of survival and protection but ultimately lead to an uprooting, a transience, a lack of foundation. The story is told through a Canadian refugee now working as a brain researcher whose compatriot, Hiroji, also with ties to Cambodia through his lost brother, the YMCA doctor. Hiroji disappears without notice. He just walks away, and this throws Janie back into her workd of lost persona.The first section is difficult to get in to. The author writes what I'll call reified prose. She writes disjointed, uncoupled, abstract prose splattered with concrete images and loose metaphor -- she paints series of images with her words. The whole story reads like a poem, and once I learned to read it as imagery, the text took off surprisingly well. I had to read the first thirty pages twice to ground myself, though. She doesn't write classic scenes, yet her tension slowly builds. It feels like you are being hit with your upstairs neighbor's 500w bass amplifier as you try to sit and read -- the prose thumps and hums and jars. Yet somehow you find yourself following along, fluttering like a butterfly, unable to stray from that field of flowers you know is around the next tree, but is also frought with predatation.I was 14 years old in 1975, and my own identity was being stripped away by my juvenile diabetes diagnosis. I did not pay attention to that Southeast Asian world I only knew about through filtered North American news. I knew people suffered and died, but I lived my day as a happy, ignorant Canadian teenager. This book takes us back to that time when the real horrors behind the television were hidden from us. This story moved me very much. I give it a five star rating for impact alone. less
Reviews (see all)
Amazing story.Started reading it and couldn't let go.I recommand it deeply.
so sad. every character was filled with loss grief and trauma
Every word counts in this tale in Cambodia.
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