Monday, September 03, 2007

THE LETTER OPENER by Kyo Maclear (2007)

Naiko, the narrator, works in the Undeliverable Mail Office for Canada Post where she tries to reunite people with their lost possessions and orphaned letters, a task that offers a glimpse into the lives of complete strangers. There she meets the enigmatic Andrei, a Romanian refugee with a haunting past. When he disappears from work, Naiko becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to him.

I especially enjoyed the epigraphs at the beginning of each section as well as Naiko's lists of characters's personal possessions which all gesture to the elusive nature of truth. Quotations such as "We do not remember days, we remember moments" and "Dead letters! Does it not sound like dead men?" add another layer of meaning.

Try to distill your life or the life of someone you love into a handful of objects. Maclear's humanity "is an indispensable part of everything she writes. It is the basis of her commitment to history's forgotten people and its undelivered stories. Her voice is exquisite and incisive." Listen to Joy Kogawa.

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