The Hunters: Two Short Novels

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9780151005888: The Hunters: Two Short Novels

A Simple Tale is the moving account of Maria Poniatowski, a woman born in the Ukraine between the two World Wars, taken by the Germans for slave labor, and eventually relocated as a displaced person to Canada. She and her husband settle in Toronto. They struggle to build a new life there and provide their son Radek with every opportunity. But a gulf widens between mother and son. What of the past is she to preserve, and how to avoid letting its weight burden the present? Maria's story is about the moments of connection and isolation that are, ultimately, common to us all.

The Hunters is told by an American academic living in a dreary suburb of London for a summer. Removed from the relationships that ordinarily add structure to life, this scholar soon grows obsessed by the neighbors downstairs. Ridley Wandor lives with her mother and their horde of pet rabbits, occupying her days as a caretaker of the elderly. While the narrator researches a book about death, Ridley Wandor's patients all seem to be dying. Is she doing away with them? The narrator constructs Ridley's story from the available clues, only to find that nothing is what it had seemed to be.

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"A marvelously subtle and poignant work, richly visualized, intensely written, compassionate without a hint of sentimentality . . . Exceptional, a work of near-miraculous perfection."--The New York Times

"A Simple Tale" is the moving account of Maria Poniatowski, an aging Ukrainian woman who was taken by the Germans for slave labor and eventually relocated to Canada as a displaced person. She struggles to provide her son Radek with every opportunity, but his eventual success increases the gulf between him and his mother. What of the past is she to preserve, and how to avoid letting the weight of that past burden the present? Maria's story is about the moments of connection and isolation that are common to us all.
"The Hunters," the second novella, is narrated by an American academic spending a summer in London who grows obsessed by the neighbors downstairs. Ridley Wandor, a plump and insipid caretaker of the elderly, lives with her ever-unseen mother and a horde of pet rabbits she calls "the hunters." While the narrator researches a book about death, all of Ridley Wandor's patients are dying. Loneliness breeds an active imagination. Is having such an imagination always destructive? Or can it be strong enough to create a new reality?
Far-flung settings and universal themes give a sweeping appeal to Claire Messud's work.
Like Flaubert, Messud is interested in how much people can endure across a lifetime without losing all hope. Together the two pieces address the loneliness inherent in the human desire to be known and loved--'A Simple Tale' directly and deeply, 'The Hunters' glancingly, by implication."--Atlantic Monthly

About the Author:

Claire Messud was born in the United States in 1966. She was educated at Yale and Cambridge. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1996. Her second novel, The Last Life, was widely praised and has been translated into several languages.

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Messude, Claire
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