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The First Century After Beatrice Paperback – 22 Sep 1994

2.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (22 Sept. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349105995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349105994
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 540,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have read a fair few of Maalouf's novels and I have enjoyed every single one of them and have him top of my favourite authors list.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written book, lyrical, perceptive, original, unnervingly insightful, and a page-turner as well. A shy affectionate Egyptian entomologist meets an ambitious beautiful journalist who has a daughter with him. They are devoted to each other, but the journalist's career keeps her traveling around the world while he raises the daughter he always wanted, Beatrice, and the larger plot unfolds - everyone in the world who wants only sons is suddenly able to have their wish, and the resulting imbalance in the gender ratio worldwide has catastrophic cultural, social and political effects, all disturbingly believable.
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Format: Paperback
An appealing enough conceit, somewhat deflated by a tiresome narrative style and some cack-handed attempts at political metaphor. The basic motif is promising - female birth rates start dropping across 'the South', apparently without cause. Our narrator and his wife, Clarence, get curious and eventually trace the now extensive imbalance in sex ratios to the machinations of an unethical scientist and some misogynistic local mythologies. All this is related in retrospect, after the passing of the biological storm, and is linked by a series of personal scenes with Clarence and Beatrice - their daughter and the symbolic centre-point of the piece.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting read about a society driven to have male children. A little bland for my taste, but a nice easy read.
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