Augustino and the Choir of Destruction by Marie-Claire Blais

Augustino and the Choir of Destruction

Marie-Claire Blais

This book is not really a story, although there are many stories within it. It is more a cacophony of voices, the choir of the title, all clamouring for attention in a post 9/11 world. Stories overlay stories and voices overlay voices, never pausing for breath, and through it all Augustino keeps on writing. I found the book hard to get into, but it is worth persevering. The language is as beautiful as the subject matter is disturbing.

... Nora looked around her, wondering if this was a celebration or something else in a disgraced and ruined country, there are birthdays and anniversaries for people, but not many for tragedies that have shaken the world, Nora thought, victims don't speak, we treat them as voiceless, forgetfulness or silence, what point was a tormented conscience, maybe Nora should have listened to her children and not left, while her husband Christiansen had strongly advised going back there, how edgy it was with your father already doing medicine in the bush, but now the soul of Rwanda was so weighed down with the dead -- although the newspapers and TV rarely talked about it, about Tutsi children killed by the thousands- - who would Nora be tomorrow, the same person or someone else, it was so easy to get comfortable again and forget what she had seen and smelt ...
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