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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Blood Kin

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Blood Kin Cover

ISBN13: 9780143114826
ISBN10: 0143114824
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A president has been overthrown by a military coup in a nameless country in an unspecified era. The president's barber, chef, and portraitist are imprisoned, with many others, in a remote palace in the hills high above the city center. Before the coup, these three men worked with unquestioning loyalty, serving the president in seemingly benign jobs. Now, forced to serve the country's new leader, they begin to reconsider their role in the old regime.

In simple, elegant prose Blood Kin alternates between the voices of the barber, the chef, and the portraitist. Later in the book their wives, lovers, and daughters tell their own tales. As the old order falls, so does the veil that hides the truth about these men and women's secret passions. No one, it seems, is entirely immune to the many temptations of power.

Ceridwen Dovey's debut is a welcome addition to the important tradition of allegorical writing about political upheaval and personal guilt. Her clever, magnetic story will resonate with fans of J. M. Coetzee, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Gabriel Garcá Márquez.

Review:

"Anthropology doctoral student Dovey's smart debut novel traces events in the lives of three functionaries in the entourage of the president of an unnamed country who is overthrown by the Commander. Dovey divides the book into three sections. The first section is devoted to the three men: the president's chef, barber and portraitist. The second section is told by three women: the chef's daughter, the barber's late brother's fiancée and the portraitist's wife. The third section operates as a coda, bringing about a second coup. The Commander imprisons the three men in the presidential residence, thinking, at first, of punishing them as subordinates to the old regime. (The portraitist's wife is also imprisoned, for reasons that are obvious to everyone but the cuckolded portraitist.) However, as the Commander samples the chef's food and the barber's skills, he softens his stance toward them. As for the portraitist, he proves too pathetic to punish. Meanwhile, the barber and the Commander's wife commence a dangerous affair, and the chef tries to figure out how to use it to his advantage. Dovey's prose gives the events an air of magic and allows this small, fable-like story to plainly illustrate the old axiom about power's ability to corrupt." Publishers Weekly (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)

Review:

"A compact but ambitious fable...Dovey displays a mastery over her material and the pacing of her narrative worthy of a much more experienced writer." Elle

Review:

"A fable of the arrogance of power, beneath whose dreamlike surface swirl currents of complex sensuality." J.M. Coetzee, Nobel prize-winning author of Disgrace and Waiting for the Barbarians

Review:

"A precise and terrifying debut novel...[Blood Kin offers] candid and chilling insights into the seductive nature of power." New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Dovey's surgical prose and cool apprehension of the machinations of ambition and lust make her a writer to watch." O, The Oprah Magazine

Synopsis:

Rarely does a debut novel attract the sweeping critical acclaim of Ceridwen Dovey's Blood Kin. Shortlisted for two prestigious awards, this tale centers around a military coup in an unnamed country, with characters who have no names or any identifying physical characteristics. Known simply as the ex-President's chef, barber, and portrait painter, these three men perform their mundane tasks and appear unaware of the atrocities of their employer's regime. But when the President is deposed, the trio are revealed as less than innocent. A deeply chilling yet sensual novel, Blood Kin illustrates Lord Acton's famous quip, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," and marks the beginning of an illustrious literary career.

Synopsis:

Rarely does a debut novel attract the sweeping critical acclaim of Ceridwen Dovey's Blood Kin. Shortlisted for two prestigious awards, this tale centers around a military coup in an unnamed country, with characters who have no names or any identifying physical characteristics. Known simply as the ex-President's chef, barber, and portrait painter, these three men perform their mundane tasks and appear unaware of the atrocities of their employer's regime. But when the President is deposed, the trio are revealed as less than innocent. A deeply chilling yet sensual novel, Blood Kin illustrates Lord Acton's famous quip, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," and marks the beginning of an illustrious literary career.

About the Author

Ceridwen Dovey grew up in South Africa and Australia. A graduate of Harvard University, she is now a doctoral student in anthropology at New York University. Her stories "Vasbyt" and "Coma Karma" were selected for the anthology African Road: New Writing from Southern Africa judged by J. M. Coetzee.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

FNORDinc, December 11, 2010 (view all comments by FNORDinc)
I am unsure where the book takes place. It could be in a South American country, or deep in an unknown country in eastern Europe. However, I did get a very “Cuba” feel from the story. The name of the country was either never mentioned, or I was completely oblivious, both are possible scenarios

Dovey’s book is broken into 3 segments. Segment one is a series of chapters focusing around three men, each are personally associated with the president of the country. The president, however is no longer in power.

The leader of a revolution has captured and is holding the presidents barber, cook, and portraitist at a remote palatial estate. They are not allowed to move freely and are being held for a variety of reasons. The most potent being that each of them had opportunity to kill the supposed corrupt president and did not. the second being that they may have knowledge that could be useful, the third, that they are all very good at what they do.

I was very impressed with this book. not knowing anything about it at the time of reading, I was caught off guard by the solid characters and the depth of the plot line. This seems almost too clinical a way to describe this story.

Less clinical: Blood Kin left my jaw agape, my soul a bit angry and chaffed, and my brain.. definitely stunned.

I highly recommend this book

-- FNORDinc.com
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780143114826
Author:
Dovey, Ceridwen
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20090331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
7.74x5.02x.59 in. .48 lbs.
Age Level:
17-17

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Blood Kin Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 192 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143114826 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Anthropology doctoral student Dovey's smart debut novel traces events in the lives of three functionaries in the entourage of the president of an unnamed country who is overthrown by the Commander. Dovey divides the book into three sections. The first section is devoted to the three men: the president's chef, barber and portraitist. The second section is told by three women: the chef's daughter, the barber's late brother's fiancée and the portraitist's wife. The third section operates as a coda, bringing about a second coup. The Commander imprisons the three men in the presidential residence, thinking, at first, of punishing them as subordinates to the old regime. (The portraitist's wife is also imprisoned, for reasons that are obvious to everyone but the cuckolded portraitist.) However, as the Commander samples the chef's food and the barber's skills, he softens his stance toward them. As for the portraitist, he proves too pathetic to punish. Meanwhile, the barber and the Commander's wife commence a dangerous affair, and the chef tries to figure out how to use it to his advantage. Dovey's prose gives the events an air of magic and allows this small, fable-like story to plainly illustrate the old axiom about power's ability to corrupt." Publishers Weekly (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)
"Review" by , "A compact but ambitious fable...Dovey displays a mastery over her material and the pacing of her narrative worthy of a much more experienced writer."
"Review" by , "A fable of the arrogance of power, beneath whose dreamlike surface swirl currents of complex sensuality."
"Review" by , "A precise and terrifying debut novel...[Blood Kin offers] candid and chilling insights into the seductive nature of power."
"Review" by , "Dovey's surgical prose and cool apprehension of the machinations of ambition and lust make her a writer to watch."
"Synopsis" by , Rarely does a debut novel attract the sweeping critical acclaim of Ceridwen Dovey's Blood Kin. Shortlisted for two prestigious awards, this tale centers around a military coup in an unnamed country, with characters who have no names or any identifying physical characteristics. Known simply as the ex-President's chef, barber, and portrait painter, these three men perform their mundane tasks and appear unaware of the atrocities of their employer's regime. But when the President is deposed, the trio are revealed as less than innocent. A deeply chilling yet sensual novel, Blood Kin illustrates Lord Acton's famous quip, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," and marks the beginning of an illustrious literary career.
"Synopsis" by ,
Rarely does a debut novel attract the sweeping critical acclaim of Ceridwen Dovey's Blood Kin. Shortlisted for two prestigious awards, this tale centers around a military coup in an unnamed country, with characters who have no names or any identifying physical characteristics. Known simply as the ex-President's chef, barber, and portrait painter, these three men perform their mundane tasks and appear unaware of the atrocities of their employer's regime. But when the President is deposed, the trio are revealed as less than innocent. A deeply chilling yet sensual novel, Blood Kin illustrates Lord Acton's famous quip, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," and marks the beginning of an illustrious literary career.

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