First off, what?? I won a Goodreads giveaway!? What in the heck is up with that? I have never heard of anyone winning one of those things, likely due to the fact that the number of people entering is typically about 142,209,931 and the number of available copies is 1.
Anyway, I got an ARC, and I’m gonna review it now. (Sorry guys, I don’t know how to start these things anymore.)
Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup was originally published in India in 2018 and will be released in the U.S. on May 19, 2020. If you like sweeping, lyrical stories with interconnecting characters and a touch of the spiritual/supernatural, this should be on your radar.
Sound like a lot? It is. It took me probably 50 pages to get used to the writing in this one, but once I did, I was mesmerized. The story opens with a newly married couple on the Adaman Islands in the 1950s. The islands themselves are as much a character as the man and woman are. The book has an incredibly strong sense of place because of the many asides and poetic descriptions of the land’s history and nature. And the characters are just as strongly written.
A scientist married to a woman who talks to ghosts. A mother waiting for the release of her son, whom she abandoned at birth, from a political prison. Octagenarians who find love in a small village in the mountains. These are only some of the memorable cast of characters we meet during the epic. And, I’m a sucker for this, they are all somehow connected to each other.
My one critique of the book is that it started much stronger than it finished. The first story/section was the best, and I felt that each successive story got weaker as I read. Reading others’ reviews, it sounds like many readers felt the same way.
However, especially for a debut novel, this book was impressive. I would not recommend this to readers who enjoy fast-moving plots and direct, no-frills writing styles. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy character and setting-driven stories who are ok with lots of poetics. I give it a solid 4 stars.
This book made me think about: geological time, connections between other humans we don’t realize we’re connected to, the stories we tell to cope with loss
Thanks, Goodreads, for providing me with an ARC for review. Is something I will probably never say again.