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Weakened by illness, an historian begins to believe in his encounters with hallucinations and magic, including a levitating Jesuit monk, on the island of Sri Lanka
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Although it's called fiction, this resonant little book, a delightful repast for the mind, combines a special kind of travel writing with meditations on strange lands and cultures, a contemplative diary and some peculiar inquiries into nature, human and animal. The narrator, a Swiss historian in the final months of a long journey in the East, settles into the 117th room he has occupied en route, this one on a "chimerical island" in the heart of India. Down on his luck, nearly broke, feverish, still searching for his elusive identity, he acquires a book on Indian insects and thereupon shifts his microscopic observation from "that pretty world of killers," the crawling verminous creatures in his room, to people in the vicinitycafe habitues, charlatans and fake exorcists; indolent, decadent land-owners; a levitating priest who's been dead for six years; a huge Tamil merchant-woman who talks to the titular Scorpion-Fish, a combination of exotic beauty and deadly menace that symbolizes for the narrator the Eastern scene, climate, character and culture. The book is well-crafted in a series of short, witty, acerbic chapters, finely written and translated, a welcome introduction to a writer of remarkable skill.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Dazzling, profound and unforgettablethis beautifully written (and translated) book is a gift and a treasure. - J. Dargan, Choice
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Book Description Carcanet Pr, 1987. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110856355518