After recently taking a dive in to Post-2001 literature, I found Ann Patchett’s decade old novel Bel Canto. She’s an American writer currently living in Tennessee so, yee-hah!
The novel follows hostages and terrorists alike in constructed reality that fester love and learning. While the novel has strong Thomas Moore-like optimism in an unlikely ambiguous setting, the characters are not all little miss sunshines.
The political undertone is less than subtle but, intriguing. Each character plays a stereotype and personifies his/her country. The Russians are loud and smoke heavily, the French are sweepingly romantic with culinary skills in every fiber of their being, the Japanese are timid and all about business, and (a personal favorite) the American is loud, demanding, always the center of attention, and idolized. The neutral Swiss negotiator may be stepping over the line of obvious but, that doesn’t degrade the beauty of the prose.
Patchett’s writing is effortless and deep. Some lines are worthy of tattoos or blog quotes. She keeps a plot that could get messy with an overwhelming character list and extreme events simple and intriguing.
The love stories woven throughout the novel take away from the political aspect so, there is fun for the whole family in this novel about fear and terrorism.
The end is a twist but, on second and third reads becomes less odd and much more rewarding.
Worthy of a literature with a capital “L” and a great example of the early stages of our current literary genre.