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Despite its biblical title - which comes from the opening lines of the book of Exodus - award-winning novelist Tommy Wieringa has crafted perhaps his most timely book yet as he traces two stories doomed to collide.
In one we follow a group of starving, near-feral Eurasian refugees on a harrowing quest for survival; in the other we follow Pontus Beg, a policeman from a small border town on the steppe, as he investigates the death of a rabbi, one of the town's two remaining Jews.
What follows is a gripping saga in which the two stories race toward each other, and Beg will be shaken to his core by what each one reveals about man's dark nature and the possibility - or impossibility - of his own redemption.
A virtual parable for our times, These Are the Names offers suspenseful listening to a crisis that continues to dominate headlines and simultaneously explores the enduring questions of faith, identity, and what it means to be "home".
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By Rochelle on 12-10-16
6 stars each for the author, translator & narrator
There's a quality of magic about this novel. It started with Wieringa's story. From start to finish, through translation and narration the magic has remained.
You know the sort of book you didn't think much about but when you picked it up you couldn't put it down again until it was finished, absorbed, dwelt upon and teased apart? This is that book.
There are two stories to this book. One is that of Pontus Beg, the Police Commissioner of a town near the border of the Steppes. It's a town full of darkly satirical circumstances. It is very funny and at times not a little disturbing.
The second story is of a group of migrants travelling through the Steppes. They were taken to the border, pointed in a direction & told if they walk in that direction, in a short time they would arrive at a city. The city never materialises and they are left wandering without food or shelter.
When the two plots meet someone is dead It's left to Commissioner Beg to investigate who the migrants are, where they've come from & who killed the dead man.
This story has a feeling about it distinct from all other authors. The only near comparison I can make is with fellow Dutch author Cees Nooteboom. Wieringa's chosen subject is very close to home in 2016 and for all the feel of magic the story has its feet are firmly on solid ground.
I loved the translation. Without knowing what the original Dutch version was like I feel that Garrett's translation captured an incredible atmosphere.
As for the narration - Arthur Morley was very well cast. He maintains & builds the atmosphere suggested by Wieringa & Garrett. On top of that he's great to listen to, through the humour and through the darkness. It's another great performance from Morley.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful