978-0-7538-1146-7 / 0753811464


by Gaarder, Jostein




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About the book:

John Spoke, famous British author, has since the death of his wife, been left unable to write--that is until his chance meeting on a remote Fijian island with the characters who are to become the protagonists of his new novel. Jostein Gaarder takes his main characters: Ana and Jose, the enigmatic Spanish couple who speak mostly in aphorisms, Frank Anderson, an evolutionary biologist from Norway and Spoke, his author from Croydon, and has them meet in a place of extraordinary natural beauty--a garden of Eden untainted by the eco-pollution of the rest of the planet. In this location the characters are forced to contemplate Man's influence on the world, his place in evolutionary history and his responsibility for the future. Here they connect, exchange philosophies and become entwined in each others' stories.

From Fiji, the action moves to Spain, and the momentum builds. We discover that Ana is in fact a famous flamenco dancing gypsy, and that she bears a striking resemblance to the subject of a painting completed 200 years before her birth: Goya's Maja Nuda. It is also revealed that Ana's life--like that of her ancestors--is punctuated by the appearance of a time-travelling dwarf. These mysteries come as challenges and we are asked to make sense of them.

Maya is a novel with big themes: love, loss, ecology, evolution and consciousness. It is also ambitiously told with its multiple locations and its many narrative voices. But John Sessions handles this well with a pace and style that prevent the listener from losing the action. The novel closes with a puzzle, but also with the recognition that life, while baffling at times, is certainly rich and must be lived fully. --Judith Walters

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