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The Sheltering Skyby Paul Bowles
In this cult novel set in Africa after WWII, the author follows the experiences of three young Americans as they are faced with the immensity of an alien culture. Madness, sex, and death as well as other apocalyptic states ensue. The book is, quite simply, riveting.
I've recently been rereading some of my favorite books; or, at least, what I thought were my favorite books I was surprised by how few of them I actually enjoyed after all these years. One of the exceptions, however, was Sheltering Sky. If anything, my love and appreciation of this amazing book has only grown with time. This special 50th-anniversary commemorative edition of Bowles's unforgettable first novel includes the original New York Times review by Tennessee Williams and a new preface that the author wrote before he died in 1999.
Synopses & Reviews
When The Sheltering Sky was first published in 1949, it established Paul Bowles as one of the most singular and promising writers of the postwar generation. Its startlingly original vision has withstood the test of time and confirmed Tennessee Williams's early estimation: "The Sheltering Sky alone of the books that I have...read by American authors appears to bear the spiritual imprint of recent history in the western world." In this classic work of psychological terror, Bowles examines the ways in which Americans apprehend an alien culture and the ways in which their incomprehension destroys them.
The story of three worldly young travelers — Port Moresby, his wife, Kit, and their friend, Tunner — adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II, The Sheltering Sky is merciless in its evocation of the emotional dislocation induced by a foreign setting. As the Americans embark on an ill-fated journey through desolate terrain, they are pushed to the limits of human reason and intelligence by the unfathomable emptiness and impassive cruelty of the desert. Along the way, they encounter a host of enigmatic characters whose inarticulate strangeness seals the travelers off even more completely from the culture in which they are traveling, causing their fierce attachments to one another to unravel.
"[The Sheltering Sky] is one of the most original, even visionary, works of fiction to appear in this century." Tobias Wolff
"It stands head and shoulders above most other novels published in English since World War II." The New Republic
"His art far exceeds that of...the greatest American writers of our day." Gore Vidal
The story of three American travelers adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II examines the way Americans apprehend an alien culture and the way their incomprehension destroys them.
About the Author
Paul Bowles was born in 1910 and studied music with composer Aaron Copland before moving to Tangier, Morocco, with his wife, Jane. He remained in Morocco, and it served as the inspiration for The Sheltering Sky, which was published in 1949. It was followed by The Delicate Prey, Let It Come Down, The Spider's House and Without Stopping, a memoir that describes his legendary associations with members of the Beat Generation. Bowles's prolific career included many musical compositions, collections of short fiction, and books of travel, poetry and translations.
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