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Genie and Paul [Paperback]

Natasha Soobramanien
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Aug 2012
One morning in May 2003, on the cyclone-ravaged island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, the body of a man washes up on the beach. Six weeks previously, the night Tropical Cyclone Kalunde first gathered force, destruction of another kind hit 25-year-old Genie Lallan and her life in London: after a night out with her brother she wakes up in hospital to discover that hes disappeared. Where has Paul gone and why did he abandon her at the club where she collapsed? Genies search for him leads her to Rodrigues, sister island to Mauritius their island of origin, and for Paul, the only place he has ever felt at home. Will Genie track Paul down? And what will she find if she does?

An imaginative reworking of the French 18th century classic, Paul et Virginie, set in London, Mauritius and Rodrigues, Genie and Paul is an utterly original love story: the story of a sisters love for a lost brother, and the story of his love for an island that has never really existed.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Myriad Editions; 1st edition (16 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908434171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908434173
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Bittersweet, rivetingly drawn, mysteriously languid: a feast for the senses.' The Guardian 'Genie and Paul is nothing short of remarkable.' - Time Out 'This beguiling first novel is a rich, warm, modern reworking of [Paul et Virginie]...The author beautifully captures the fairytale atmosphere of the original.' - The Times

'Soobramanien's poised, resonant tale of innocence and experience is strikingly original... a rare talent.' - Daily Mail

'Polyphonic and intricately patterned' - Times Literary Supplement

'Genie and Paul is quite simply a stunning novel. It exudes the sort of originality that should, if there is any justice in the world, augur a long and honorable career.' - MAUREEN FREELY

'A clever and beautiful novel, bringing new terrain into the literary.'- Amit Chaudhuri

'Superb' --- Financial Times

'The gripping story of her [Genie s] search for him [Paul], layered with richly described memories of the island of their birth, Mauritius, and London, their new home.' - Observer

'An exceptional debut novel. Soobramanien proves her emotional intelligence in her real understanding of what it means to grow up in a country not one s own. Her prose is vivid, clever and effective. ..[her] writing skills are startling and indisputable.' Red Magazine

'A treasure of a book a novel of ideas that is also sensual, thrillingly alive. It is confident and smart, and emotionally resonant.' - Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap

'Beautiful, lovingly written first novel... Soobramanien's greatest achievement with Genie and Paul may lie in its expression of the lost time between childhood and adulthood.' --The Quietus

'A stunning debut novel, lyrical and touching.' - Foyles

'A fresh, original story ...the sense and evocation of place is key, and Soobramanien writes with great insight as to how our bonds with those we are closest to shape our lives.' We Love This Book

'Dreamy and still, yet passionately evocative... augers well for Soobraminen s future.' --- Bookmunch

About the Author

Natasha Soobramanien studied English at Hull University and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She was a winner in the short story category of the Bridport Prize in 2009 and wrote two chapters of Luke Williams' debut novel, The Echo Chamber, winner of the Saltire Society's Scottish First Book of the Year Award 2011. Natasha was born in London, where she now lives.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Not a bad attempt' at a first novel... 17 Aug 2012
I read Genie and Paul in a day and a half, through a train journey, dinner and breakfast the next morning, finding it impossible to put aside, or, at times I admit, escape. It weaves its delirious often claustrophobic way through the tale of a young Mauritian brother and sister who come to London and are drawn back to their homeland. Weaving is the right term too, the writing is so finely crafted that it achieves wonderfully authentic, atmospheric effects, whether it be an ecstatic London club in the 90's or a deserted beach on the island of Rodrigues; creating intense even animistic sensations: shadows 'lick' walls, and flowers, animals, spaces, are all imbued with a secret, sentient life of their own, reflecting, echoing events and feelings that the characters experience or that surround them, unbeknownst.
Italo Calvino talked about the underrated importance of lightness for the novelist, using the example of Perseus, supported by the wind and using the indirect mirror reflection to cut off the head of Medusa without being turned into stone...
Heartily, savagely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the original Genie and Paul 9 Oct 2012
By G. M. Sinstadt VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If a book proves not to be the book one hoped it would be, then any disappointment may lie not with the author but with the reader. That is the case with Genie and Paul, which I had hoped would be a retelling of a much-loved Mauritian tale. It is true that is what the author offers but this brother and sister transplanted from Mauritius to London in the 1980's and '90's find themselves in an environment of squats and drugs that failed to engage this reader.

That admitted, it is only fair to say that Natasha Soobrmanien writes very well, and tackles an episodic structure that jumps forward and backward in time with great confidence. A sympathetic reader will probably be drawn to know what happens next. I"m sorry it didn't prove to be my kind of book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A smart, sharp, haunting piece of writing 23 Sep 2012
Genie and Paul is an incredibly assured, beautifully written, and always surprising first novel. It has something for everyone - laugh out loud satire on twentysomething house sharing, intense psychological drama, and post colonial politics. A gripping and provocative read. Whoever you are, you'll take something lasting from this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible! 19 Sep 2012
By Megs
I don't often write book reviews but I have to say something about 'Genie and Paul'.

It is incredible.

The novel is overflowing with love and yearning, for people and for places. The desires of the characters stretch across London, Mauritius and beyond the pages of this book.

There's Genie's yearning for her brother, and Paul's yearning for Mauritius, for the past, for Jean-Marie, for something. The yearning is familial, geographical, chronological, literary and sexual. The characters all want something - love, sex, calm, excitement, a place to live, a family, stories - but there is something else in this novel which pushes the sense of yearning further - it has something to do with the tone of the narration, which is fixed to the characters but also slightly removed from them - it is dream-like, unfixed yet also guiding.

When the author describes a place, be it London or Mauritius or a story from one of the character's lives, the description is universal - these are not just `characters' - they live and breathe, they are fleshy - yet they also represent entire generations.

Soobramanien describes the truisms of London - its drabness, uniformity, mass, for example, but also its colour, the sense of possibility, and the sense of hopelessness. Mauritius feels dreamlike and familiar yet it is also filled with unexpected things.

Both London and Mauritius are, in a sense, paradise and hell in this novel, or rather, they contain both places. This adds further to the feeling of yearning which runs throughout - neither of these places provides the character with any `answer' despite their desperate search.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story about love of people and places 16 Aug 2012
Genie and Paul is the debut novel from Natasha Soobramanien. Taking the French 18th Century classic `Paul et Virginie' by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre as inpsiration, the author has crafted a story about love of people and of places. It is May 2003, and a body is washed up on a beach on Rodrigues, the sister island of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Six weeks earlier, in March 2003, a tropical cyclone hit Rodrigues, and it wrought destruction. On the same night, in London, twenty-six-year-old Genie Lallan wakes up in hospital, having collapsed after a night in a club with her beloved brother Paul, who has now vanished. It seems that her more innocent nature has been tarnished in part by her drug-taking brother.

Through the numerous glimpses into their pasts as the story unfolds, we discover that Paul and Genie moved to Britain from Mauritius, and whilst Genie takes to her new home, Paul aches to be back in Mauritius.

The narrative is composed of three sections, relating first to Genie, then Paul, and finally them both. Within these sections, the stories from the present and the past, which recall various episodes in the lives of the two siblings, build to give the reader a fascinating, layered picture of them both. Often a character is asked by another to tell them their story, and I found this storytelling aspect a wonderful and particularly appealing element of this novel.

Genie and Paul reads like a fresh, original story of love, of shared memories and places that always feel like home to us. Soobramanien offers us a novel where the sense and evocation of place is key, and she writes with great insight as to how our bonds with those we are closest to shape our lives.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
One morning in May 2003, on the cyclone-ravaged island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, the body of a man washes up on the beach. Read more
Published 7 months ago by xenofan
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine debut
This is a highly original story and should appeal to anyone interested in fine writing. This is an assured debut. Read more
Published 11 months ago by D. P. Mankin
3.0 out of 5 stars Confident and well planned but too ethereal with my taste
This story is about the relationship between Genie and Paul, half siblings, who have moved from Mauritius to London as children. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Janie U
4.0 out of 5 stars A curiously warm and charming tale about the fragile, lost and...
Back in the nineteenth century, a French writer, Bernadin de Saint-Pierre, wrote a book about a brother and sister from Mauritius, called Paul et Virginie, which became a classic... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lady Fancifull
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written
This is a well written brother and sister love story, originally written in the 18th century and now brought up to date as a 1990, novel. Read more
Published 15 months ago by rossyb
1.0 out of 5 stars very disappointing
With all the rave reviews,i settled down to read this book.Out of respect for the Author,i battled through to half-way through the book wondering when something was going to... Read more
Published 18 months ago by s
4.0 out of 5 stars HAUNTINGLY SAD
A modern love story featuring sister and brother Genie and Paul, it echoing the fate of siblings in the Nineteenth Century French classic "Paul and Virginia". Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mr. D. L. Rees
3.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Atmosphere
In the past before Britain took control of Mauritius from France a fable was composed about a doomed love between a boy called Paul and a girl called Virginie. Read more
Published 22 months ago by D. Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, sweet and full of beautiful observations
I loved this book. It's a beautiful, subtle story, woven through with delicate little details that touch you and make you laugh. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Booklady
4.0 out of 5 stars London and Mauritius
Genie and Paul are brother and sister who, at the ages of 5 and 10 respectively, emigrate from Mauritius to London. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Eleanor
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