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By the Sea: By the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021

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Another coincidence (oh how I love them): I had just showered and noticed that the water was at my ankles; I fretted, wondering about hiring a plumber. She grapples with memories of her late husband, her parents, of all the decisions she made in her life. Later, Max recounts being invited on a picnic—for what reasons or what specific time during the summer is never explicitly stated—where Max, in awe, catches an unkempt glance at her pelvic area.

The ending of the book entwines the exact moment of Anna's death with Chloe and Myles drowning in the sea itself as Max and Rose look on. Each character could become a character in her own tale, a contemporary Arabian Nights story rendered post-exotic by its political relevance in modern times. He lays on story after story for her, until the strands that connect past and present, magic and real, become thickly—andseductively—meshed. And it's a persistent fascination, something Larkin described, in Poetry of Departures, as 'this audacious, purifying, elemental move,' the mere prospect of which left him 'flushed and stirred'. Failing to remember makes the characters seem unreliable, but also very human in their flaws and weaknesses.At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we’re apart — the pain of a beloved daughter’s suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love. This was a vivid reminder of the initial months of the pandemic, of that sense of otherness, that dreamlike (or should is say nightmare-like) as we all grappled with the new reality.

We have become part of this universe that unfolds in front of us at a level where picturesque or exoticism become simply beauty and diversity. And like me, she has two grown daughters, she hangs out with her ex, and she worries a lot about all three of them.Behind the scene, pulling the strings, is Hussein, who both entrances and tricks, then disappears home to Persia to let things fall out as they may. I think the best way to regard this series is as a series of three novels – which are ideally read as back to back due to the way they strongly complement each other; with the short story collection “Anything Is Possible” seen as more of an optional companion volume. As the narrative progresses we get to know more about Lucy’s daughters and their respective lives- their childhood, professional and personal lives and their bond with their parents. But really, did Lucy deserve to be attacked for assuming her heterosexual daughter was considering an affair with a man? Strout has lovingly brought back Bob Burgess, from a previous novel and a few mentions of another Strout character I love, which was a great surprise.

Even when the winds of history push them toward other, less hospitable shores—England, or the old, Marxist East Germany—Gurnah's characters are still the embodiment of mythic Zanzibar. With him he has a small bag in which lies his most precious possession—a mahogany box containing incense. We are friendly, I would see him intermittently; we both were living in New York City, where we came when we first married.I saw an older, more wiser, but maybe a more vulnerable Lucy, but still Lucy, and one of my favorite characters. I don’t necessarily disagree with everything the author expressed, so that is not my reason for disliking the book. The picture Gurnah paints of the asylum-seeker's lot in late 20th-century Britain is not a favourable one.

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