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I loved the openness and insights of the narrator of this Jamesian novel, looking back years later on the life changes he underwent as a foreign-born graduate student at Harvard. The unnamed (I think) narrator longs to be part of both the elite Cambridge community and the working class taxi-driving community of North Africans and other exiles. The narrator is drawn to the brash, vulgar, impulsive Kalash, feeling as foreign (at times) as his hard-to-control friend. The changes in his attitude to Kalash, to Cambridge and to the Harvard community provide the book's momentum. There are moments of laugh-out-loud humor that subside to the deepest sadness. Beautiful portraits of the immigrant community within a very special American subculture.
The narration by Sanjiv Jhaveri left me with mixed feelings. At first, I thought his accent (assumed for the book, based on his accent-free introduction and a few other characters' voices) was a caricature, something you might find in a comic foil on a network sitcom. But as we got to know the narrator, elements of Jhaveri's voice became appealing--a longing quality, a wistfulness, an eagerness to please. I was very sorry to "miss" his voice when the book ended.
All in all, an enjoyable listening experience that made me want to read more by this author.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I wanted to read this book, but I was somewhat put off by the narrator's accent in the audio sample, so I bought the Kindle version first. Then I read an Audible reviewer who said that the narrator did a great job, so I took a chance on the Audible version.
It does take a few minutes to get used to the voice that the narrator uses for the person telling the story, but he also uses a variety of voices for the other character. The voice he uses for Kalaj is perfect, and while I read a few short sections in the Kindle book, I missed hearing the narrator's voice and ended up listening to most of the book. In fact, I think this ia case where the narrator actually makes the book better.
André Aciman writes extremely well, and while this book is more episodic than plot-driven, I enjoyed every minute of it. He creates a series of memorable characters, but the two main characters and the dynamic between them is the primary focus.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful