Our theme for September is The family legacy. The two selections are The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind. The language reels you into the world Tarrt has created, and immerses you fully in her character's experiences. The book tells the story of a boy named Theo Decker, whose mother is killed in a terrorist act early in the novel. After surviving the accident that killed his mother, 13-year-old Theo tries to adjust to a new life on Park Avenue. Theo is perplexed and disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother. He clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting stolen by Theo at the time of the terrorist attack.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous art underworld.
The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art.
The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon shows us the heart of Iraq’s complex and violent recent history. Descending into the underworld where the borders between life and death are blurred. Jawad, born to a traditional Shi'ite family of corpse washers and shrouders, decides to abandon the family tradition, choosing instead to become a sculptor, to celebrate life rather than tend to death. He enters Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts in defiance of his father’s wishes and determined to forge his own path. But the circumstances of history dictate otherwise. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the economic sanctions of the 1990s destroy the socioeconomic fabric of society. The 2003 invasion and military occupation unleash sectarian violence. Jawad has no choice but to abandon his chosen career path and return the inevitable washing and shrouding originally designated for him. Love is sidelined for duty, art is shelved for death as Jawad faces up to dark, new challenges and conflict within his tortured soul.
(The book descriptions are a collaboration from different online book reviews)