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Eating Fire and Drinking Water

Arlene J. Chai

556 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0747220735 / ISBN 13: 9780747220732
Published by Headline Book Publishing, 1997
Used Condition: Good
From Better World Books (Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.)

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Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP79662853

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Eating Fire and Drinking Water

Publisher: Headline Book Publishing

Publication Date: 1997

Book Condition:Good

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


"I was someone hungry for stories; more specifically, I was someone who craved after facts. I was, you see, a person with no history. Lacking this, I developed a curiosity about other's people's stories. . . ."

Clara Perez is a reporter on a small South seas island. An orphan raised by nuns, she is a young woman with origins shrouded in mystery. Full of idealistic ambition, she grows tired of the trivial assignments she's given at the daily paper, yearning to write articles of substance. So when the tiny street of Calle de Leon bursts into flames after a student demonstration--and a soldier kills an unarmed man--Clara seizes the chance to cover the explosive story.

Yet after Clara rushes to the burning street to investigate the tragedy, she discovers another, more personal one involving some remarkable truths about her unknown past--ghosts, she realizes, which have been silently pursuing her all her life. And as family secrets begin to unfold, Clara's missing history slowly spreads itself out on the tumultuous backdrop of a country wracked by revolution. . . .

An evocative and multilayered tale, at once political and personal, Eating Fire and Drinking Water is an extraordinary work, a powerful and pulsing novel of politics and commitment, loyalty and love, and the poignant search for truth.

From Publishers Weekly:

Ambitious and self-conscious, the second novel (after The Last Time I Saw Mother) from popular, Philippine-born Australian novelist Chai features Clara Perez, a journalist orphaned as an infant, who discovers that her personal history makes an interesting story of its own. Clara is struggling to make a name for herself as a reporter on an unnamed island reminiscent of the Philippines when a student riot starts a deadly fire in an obscure part of town. Sensing a story, Clara investigates and finds that her roots (hidden by the nuns who took her into their orphanage) are irrevocably entwined with the events and lives now unfolding before her. Though interspersed with amusing and occasionally absorbing tales, the novel's awkward pacing and confusing structure hinder our appreciation of Clara's quest for identity. Clara herself is hard to grasp: she and the rest of the cast seem to exist mostly in order to advance the plot, in which a growing rebellion looms large. Add to these problems a point of view that skips from major to minor characters without taking the time to round them out, and one is left with a muddle. In one of several apologies to the reader, Clara says: "There are many memories here, and if I jump about in recounting them, you must forgive me." One can admire Chai's attempt to write a far-reaching and deeply personal story; but her diffuse narrative, despite its moments of engagement, lacks dramatic effect.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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