The First Century After Beatrice Paperback – 22 Sep 1994
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If someone is going to tell a story about the end of the world, we can glean some comfort from the fact that it is told in a voice as refined and delightful as Amin Maalouf's - Independent on Sunday
About the Author
international edition of the leading Beirut daily an-Nahar, and editor in chief of Jeune Afrique. He lives in Paris with his wife and three children.
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Top Customer Reviews
He is a truly gifted author, always writing beautiful and hypnotic tales, mixing fact with fiction. With The First Century After Beatrice, he doesn't let us down on these points. A very scary scenario, based along demographic change - through the simple idea (based in fact) of the affect of certain beans causing more males to be born than females - is skilfully and brilliantly presented to us, through excellently intertwined plots based through the individual protagonists and then at the global level around them.
It sounds... for lack of other words in my vocabulary... a wierd idea to build a novel around, but Maalouf does it incredibly well - grabbing us into the story and gripping us as we read it. I don't believe that any other author could do this to such a subject.
He makes the scenario transpire as incredibly scary and when we think about it, when one looks to the one-child policy in China (and the subsequent increased proportion of male-to-female in the population), he allows and helps us to open our eyes to such policies and such social trends and desires. This skill is something that Maalouf oozes in and demonstrates in all his work.
You may wonder why, after having said such good things about this work, I have only given the novel three stars. I have simply done this because I am judging it by the other novels he has written. Though I enjoyed this greatly, had I not read other books by him previously, I may not have continued to be so eager to buy his next piece. Maybe it is because I was left decidely uncomfortable by the realness of the scenario that unfolds.Read more ›
Peppered with some arresting aphorisms, not all of which are totally original ("...the time-honoured art of great teachers - that of making you feel you have always had in you what they have just that moment taught you"), 'The First Century After Beatrice' ultimately fails to transcend a series of not-so-subtle political messages about liberal guilt, demographic anxieties and the wrong-headedness of the 'North-South divide'. Some of this works, if in a rather trite way, but it also comes across as a little confused.
To make matters worse, the narrative views the fertility crisis from above and from afar, making the speculative trauma all too clinical and abstract. Clarence and Beatrice fail to really offer emotional counter-points to these pseudo-intellectual reflections. Gender dystopia works much more convincingly in the imagined scenarios of Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' or the political militancy of Joanna Russ' 'The Female Man'. Maalouf's speculative fictions eventually show themselves to be rather thin and empty, just as their supposed messages about humanity fail to resonate.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I never reported it because I was away for longtime and only a few weeks ago I noticed that it was missing.Published on 10 Mar. 2014 by isabel de queiroz