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Alentejo Blue: A Novel

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Alentejo Blue: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780743293037
ISBN10: 0743293037
Condition: Standard
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Awards

The Rooster 2007 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Alentejo Blue is the story of a village community in Portugal, told through the lives of men and women whose families have lived there for generations and some who are passing through. For Teresa, a beautiful girl not yet twenty, Mamarrosa is a place from which to escape. For the dysfunctional Potts family, it is a way of running from trouble (though not eluding it). Vasco, a cafe owner who has never recovered from the death of his American wife, clings to a notion that his years away from the village, in the States, make him superior. One English tourist fantasizes about making a new life in Mamarrosa; for her compatriots, a young engaged couple, Mamarrosa is where their dreams fall apart.

At the opening of Alentejo Blue, an old man reflects on his long and troubled life in this seemingly tranquil place, and anticipates the homecoming of Marco Afonso Rodrigues, the prodigal son of the village and a symbol of the now fast-changing world. When Marco does finally return, villagers, tourists, and expatriates are brought together, and their jealousies and disappointments inevitably collide.

Review:

"Ali's 2003 debut, Brick Lane, was a brilliant family saga told largely from within a Bangladeshi woman's apartment on London's ramshackle East End. Ali, who was born in Dhaka and grew up in London, sets her sophomore effort in a similarly struggling community, the rural Alentejo region of Portugal, where cork prices are falling, the region is still healing after the brutal Salazar regime and the locals don't quite care to cater to tourists. But where Brick Lane was quietly symphonic, this blues-like novel is more of a dirge: Joo, in old age, comes upon his old friend (and sometime lover), Rui, hanging from a tree, his Communist dreams dashed; the English Potts family scrapes by as indolents-in-exile; the writer Stanton, also British, works away on a second-rate literary biography; tavern-keeper Vasco sadly and silently reminisces about his marriage to an American, Lili; and young Teresa is preparing to leave the village for an uncertain future 'outside.' The simultaneous sense of stasis and great change is Ali's forte, and her characters' perceptions are sharp. But when anyone other than the Brits speak, it's as if Ali is trying to ventriloquize an incompletely acquired dialect. The characters' lives generate little tension, much like the pinball machine in Vasco's cafe that Stanton plays badly. (June 20)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Monica Ali's debut, the sensitive, subtly witty 'Brick Lane,' was one of the best novels of 2003. Now, with 'Alentejo Blue,' she's produced one of the best books of 1926. This spare, unrelentingly depressing story about several lost generations might have delighted Gertrude Stein and made Hemingway green with envy, but whether readers will want to subject themselves to it now seems doubtful. Searching... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Using luminous, heartfelt language, the award-winning Ali weaves a tapestry of human frailty....Overall, the novel compares favorably with Carson McCullers's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter as a study of collective despair and frustrated hopes." Library Journal

Review:

"The author roams through many voices and perspectives, but the characterizations are superficial. The drastic change of scene, though maybe necessary for artistic growth, has left Ali oddly adrift." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Poetic, understated, and somber...the grace of Ali's words is dazzling." Time Out New York

Review:

"This is Ali's more ambitious and accomplished novel....These stories are absorbing and beautiful; they, and the characters they give voice to, are enmeshed in intricate and surprising ways." Baltimore Sun

Review:

"[A] little gem of a story....Ali's narrative shines when telling the story of Eileen, a menopausal tourist on holiday with her emotionally absent husband." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)

Review:

"The novel isn't a failed experiment, but it is a self-conscious one....Ali's characters are trapped in their own heads. To let them loose into the dusty streets of Mamarrosa to act and interact, rather than silently stew, would be a liberation for them — and perhaps for their author." Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Alentejo Blue is sleepy and disconnected, as are its characters....Ali took a risk in trying something so different, but it just seems her heart wasn't in it." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"A master of concision and suggestion, the author says volumes about characters and situations by what she does not say. It does indeed take a village — in this case, to show the fundamental universality of all human predicaments." Booklist

Review:

"In Alentejo Blue, the characters in dialogue with themselves matter more than their interactions with one another. And, despite the dramatic details of affairs and a criminal abortion, characters matter more than the plot." Philadelphia Inquirer

Synopsis:

From the award-winning bestselling author of Brick Lane, compelling, gorgeously written stories set in Portugal, linked by character and place — Ali introduces us to a new culture as she did in her first novel.

About the Author

Monica Ali was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and grew up in England. She has been named by Granta as one of the twenty best young British novelists. Brick Lane won Barnes & Noble's Discover Award for New Writers and Quality Paperback Book Club's New Voices Award. It was translated into thirty languages. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

girassol, August 17, 2006 (view all comments by girassol)
I have read the reviews on this book and disagree with most of them.
Anyone with a true knowledge of the Alentejo region, history and culture would realise that Monica Ali has it exactly right!
I wonder where she gained her insight into this most peculiar part of Europe and the strange mix of characters who have now gathered there?
This IS Alentejo 2006 exactly. Well done Monica!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(19 of 27 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743293037
Subtitle:
Fiction
Author:
Ali, Monica
Author:
onica Ali
Author:
M
Publisher:
Scribner
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Portugal
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st U.S. ed.
Publication Date:
June 20, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.25 in

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2007
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Alentejo Blue: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780743293037 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Ali's 2003 debut, Brick Lane, was a brilliant family saga told largely from within a Bangladeshi woman's apartment on London's ramshackle East End. Ali, who was born in Dhaka and grew up in London, sets her sophomore effort in a similarly struggling community, the rural Alentejo region of Portugal, where cork prices are falling, the region is still healing after the brutal Salazar regime and the locals don't quite care to cater to tourists. But where Brick Lane was quietly symphonic, this blues-like novel is more of a dirge: Joo, in old age, comes upon his old friend (and sometime lover), Rui, hanging from a tree, his Communist dreams dashed; the English Potts family scrapes by as indolents-in-exile; the writer Stanton, also British, works away on a second-rate literary biography; tavern-keeper Vasco sadly and silently reminisces about his marriage to an American, Lili; and young Teresa is preparing to leave the village for an uncertain future 'outside.' The simultaneous sense of stasis and great change is Ali's forte, and her characters' perceptions are sharp. But when anyone other than the Brits speak, it's as if Ali is trying to ventriloquize an incompletely acquired dialect. The characters' lives generate little tension, much like the pinball machine in Vasco's cafe that Stanton plays badly. (June 20)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Using luminous, heartfelt language, the award-winning Ali weaves a tapestry of human frailty....Overall, the novel compares favorably with Carson McCullers's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter as a study of collective despair and frustrated hopes."
"Review" by , "The author roams through many voices and perspectives, but the characterizations are superficial. The drastic change of scene, though maybe necessary for artistic growth, has left Ali oddly adrift."
"Review" by , "Poetic, understated, and somber...the grace of Ali's words is dazzling."
"Review" by , "This is Ali's more ambitious and accomplished novel....These stories are absorbing and beautiful; they, and the characters they give voice to, are enmeshed in intricate and surprising ways."
"Review" by , "[A] little gem of a story....Ali's narrative shines when telling the story of Eileen, a menopausal tourist on holiday with her emotionally absent husband."
"Review" by , "The novel isn't a failed experiment, but it is a self-conscious one....Ali's characters are trapped in their own heads. To let them loose into the dusty streets of Mamarrosa to act and interact, rather than silently stew, would be a liberation for them — and perhaps for their author."
"Review" by , "Alentejo Blue is sleepy and disconnected, as are its characters....Ali took a risk in trying something so different, but it just seems her heart wasn't in it."
"Review" by , "A master of concision and suggestion, the author says volumes about characters and situations by what she does not say. It does indeed take a village — in this case, to show the fundamental universality of all human predicaments."
"Review" by , "In Alentejo Blue, the characters in dialogue with themselves matter more than their interactions with one another. And, despite the dramatic details of affairs and a criminal abortion, characters matter more than the plot."
"Synopsis" by , From the award-winning bestselling author of Brick Lane, compelling, gorgeously written stories set in Portugal, linked by character and place — Ali introduces us to a new culture as she did in her first novel.
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