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The Hunters: Two Short Novels
Synopses & Reviews
A Simple Tale is the touching story of Maria Poniatowski. Born in the Ukraine between the two world wars and taken by the Germans for slave labor, Maria finds herself relocated as a displaced person in Canada. She and her husband settle in Toronto, where he works in construction and she as a cleaning woman. They build a new life and provide their son Radek, who prefers to call himself Rod, with every opportunity. But eventually his success as an engineer only widens the gulf between him and his mother. What of the past is she to preserve, and how to avoid letting its weight burden the present?
Framed by the close but tumultuous relationship with one of her employers, Maria's illuminating story is about the moments of connection and isolation that are, ultimately, common to us all.
Told by an American scholar living in a dreary suburb of London for a summer, The Hunters is a story in which nothing is what it would seem to be. Removed from the relationships that ordinarily add structure to life and engrossed in researching a book about death, the nameless/genderless narrator soon grows obsessed with the neighbors downstairs. Ridley Wandor lives with her mother and their horde of pet rabbits, occupying her days as a caretaker of the elderly. Mysteriously, her patients all seem to be dying. As Ridley's story is pieced together from the available clues, the light it casts is intensely evocative.
Written with the assurance and style that make Messud a major young talent, A Simple Life and The Hunters are works of emotional depth and striking intelligence.
"A Simple Tale" is the moving account of Maria Poniatowski, an aging Ukrainian woman who was taken by the Germans for slave labor and eventually relocated to Canada as a displaced person. She struggles to provide her son Radek with every opportunity, but his eventual success increases the gulf between him and his mother. What of the past is she to preserve, and how to avoid letting the weight of that past burden the present? Maria's story is about the moments of connection and isolation that are common to us all.
"The Hunters," the second novella, is narrated by an American academic spending a summer in London who grows obsessed by the neighbors downstairs. Ridley Wandor, a plump and insipid caretaker of the elderly, lives with her ever-unseen mother and a horde of pet rabbits she calls "the hunters." While the narrator researches a book about death, all of Ridley Wandor's patients are dying. Loneliness breeds an active imagination. Is having such an imagination always destructive? Or can it be strong enough to create a new reality?
Far-flung settings and universal themes give a sweeping appeal to Claire Messud's work.
The widely acclaimed author of "The Last Life" offers two extraordinary short novels about isolation: "A Simple Tale", about a Ukrainian woman relocated as a displaced person to Canada, and "The Hunters", following a London scholar who becomes obsessed by the neighbors downstairs.
About the Author
Claire Messud was born in the United States in 1966. She was educated at Yale and Cambridge. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1996. Her second novel, The Last Life, was widely praised and has been translated into several languages.
Table of Contents
A simple tale — The hunters.
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