ISBN is

978-1-55278-244-6 / 1552782441

Dolce Agonia

by Huston, Nancy

Publisher:McArthur and Company

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

On a snowy Thanksgiving in a small New England college town, a motley group of 13 has gathered to celebrate at the home of poet Sean Farrell. Among them are a bulimic surgeon, an anorexic, Holocaust-obsessed philosophy professor, a secretary, a leftist lawyer, an 80-year-old Jewish baker from South Africa, a failed Belarussian painter, a famous novelist, his former-prostitute wife, and their infant son.

As the feasting and imbibing progress through the evening, we are presented with a panoramic snapshot of the characters' lives--past, present, and future, and in particular, when and how each will die. Such clairvoyance is possible in the universe of Dolce Agonia because of the brazen, ironically sacrilegious way that author Nancy Huston plays up the power of the omniscient narrator. Her narrator is none other than God, who happens to double as the Angel of Death.

Dolce Agonia does not follow the standard pattern of confrontation, conflict, and resolution. Instead, while a blizzard slowly blankets the outside world, Huston delves into the consciousness and conscience of her characters, probing delicately but insistently beneath the facade of social decorum. As in her superb novel, The Mark of the Angel, Huston demonstrates a keen facility for showing how history acts on the lives of people not so much as an external force, but rather as a constitutive part of their identity. The spectres of the Holocaust, apartheid, and Chernobyl loom heavy within these characters, as do the harsh realities of child abuse, drug addiction, incest, and prostitution. Their stories are contemporary tragedies told with delicious black humour. --Diana Kuprel

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