Wednesday 6 July 2011


Finished July 5
Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras, translated by Frank Wynne
This novel is told by a man looking back at a few months from his childhood the year he was ten.
Structured like a school day with each section a subject, this book follows a young boy in Argentina in 1976. His parents have spoken out against the government and feel threatened. They pull him and his younger brother, referred to as Midget, out of school in the middle of the day, whisking them off to a house in the country with only the items they have with them. His favourite game is Risk. In Risk, Kamchatka is the furthest you can get from Argentina, and the narrator makes reference to a period of time spent there after the events described in the book.
In the country villa, the boy finds a book on Houdini and when asked by his parents to pick a new name as they go into hiding, he picks Harry. We see how he tries to help his younger brother, but still struggles to be as strong as his parents need him to be. He is befriended by a young man, Luke, also in hiding, who helps him to gain skills he thinks will help him. As we switch back and forth between the adult narrator looking back at his younger self, and the young boy in voice, we see how his mind struggled to comprehend the events as he experienced them, and how his adult self feels for him. This is a very moving story, as we can guess what the events are leading to. The boy Harry is losing his innocence, far before he should have to.
A wonderful read.

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