Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fiction: The Bay of Foxes by Sheila Kohler

Publisher: Penguin
Date: June 26, 2012
Format: paperback
Source: publisher - unsolicited
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.)
Pages: 207
Reading time: two days

From GoodReads: In 1978, Dawit, a young, beautiful, and educated Ethiopian refugee, roams the streets of Paris. By chance, he spots the famous French author M., who at sixty is at the height of her fame. Seduced by Dawit's grace and his moving story, M. invites him to live with her. He makes himself indispensable, or so he thinks. When M. brings him to her Sardinian villa, beside the Bay of Foxes, Dawit finds love and temptation—and perfects the art of deception.

My review: Even though The Bay of Foxes isn't the sort of book I would normally pick up, I enjoyed reading it. The plot was well-paced and interesting. I found the author's style to be a bit different: wonderfully descriptive of the current scenes and surroundings but leaving out most details occurring between glimpses at the story. At times this lent a slightly rushed or underdeveloped feel to the book, yet I wasn't that bothered by it because I had the impression that the plot mattered less than the deeper meanings hidden within the novel.

As an examination of post-colonial relationships between African immigrants and Europeans, particularly those in the upper-class and literary circles, The Bay of Foxes is fascinating. Basically a sum-up of the entire book is how Dawit is exploited by rich people who see him merely as a superficially interesting African, and, in turn, how he responds to this treatment. As an examination of literary craft - including a mixture of the author's own life experiences, the lives of some of the popular mid-20th century European writers, and elements of metafiction - the novel is also fascinating. All around, The Bay of Foxes is a good, solid read. I'll now be looking out for more of the author's books.

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