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A Stranger in Olondriaby Sofia Samatar
Synopses & Reviews
Jevick, the pepper merchant's son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick's life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria's Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.
In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire's two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country shimmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that seductive necromancy, reading.
A Stranger in Olondria is a skillful and immersive debut fantasy novel that pulls the reader in deeper and deeper with twists and turns reminiscent of George R. R. Martin and Joe Hill.
"Samatar weaves superstition, religion, politics, and a strong love of reading into a biography of Jissavet, a simple illiterate girl who has died young. The frame story depicts Jevick of Tyom's first trip to the country of Olondria after his father's death. A modern young man, Jevick can read and write, something most of his people in Tyom cannot do, and loves the time spent in Bain, the Incomparable City. When Jissavet's ghost begins haunting him, Jevick thinks he's going mad, the Olondrian priesthood thinks he's a fraud masquerading as a saint, and a group of religious fanatics become convinced he has magical powers. Somehow he has to navigate the warring factions in Olondria and work up the courage to listen to Jissavet, because it's the only way to help her soul and stop the haunting. Some of the religious and cultural terms are never clearly defined, and context is not always sufficient, but the country and the people are vividly painted. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jevik travels to the city of Olondria where he is overtaken by a ghost from his past.
About the Author
Sofia Samatar is an American of Somali and Swiss-German Mennonite background. She wrote A Stranger in Olandria in Yambio, South Sudan, where she worked as an English teacher. She has worked in Egypt and is pursuing a PhD in African Languages and Literature at the University of Madison, WI.
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