22.1.13

'The Island of Last Truth' by Flavia Company

I finished The Island of Last Truth by Flavia Company last week, but alas, I've been poorly, so I'm just reviewing it now.

The Island of Last Truth is the story of Mathew Prendel, a doctor with a penchant for sailing that ends up getting him marooned on a desert island in the South Atlantic after encountering pirates on one of his expeditions. However, he is not alone (dun dun dun!) The story is told to us as it was told to his girlfriend years afterwards, just before his death, from whence she then goes to tidy up the loose ends for him, so to speak (those aren't spoilers by the way - you find all that out on the first page.)

Unfortunately, this book was underwhelming for me. The first chapters were very engaging, and because I like fiction in translation (this was originally written in Catalan), I had high hopes. The story of how Mathew ends up on the island was interesting and well illustrated, but the tale of his exploits on the island was too far-fetched for me to think it realistic, but too realistic for it to be some kind of mystical story, or an allegory of sorts. 

It probably suffered from me having seen, and loved, Life of Pi at the cinema recently, but I'm not sure it knows on which side of the fence it wants to sit: it was neither plausible as a true story nor actually representative of something else. I'm also not really a fan of popular thrillers and by the ending it's very much going that way, so it wasn't really for me.

Some of the writing is lovely though, and the translation itself is well done (this book actually shares a translator with Stone in a Landslide which I've recently reviewed). For instance:
The mother, naturally, cries. How many times must she have cried without realizing it, while she made a meal, or the beds, or did the laundry. As though she were coughing or sneezing. Her children don't look at her. Her husband, on the other hand, moves a hand closer to her and she takes it as if he were passing her the salt or the bread, in any case something she has asked for because she needs it.
 Overall, an interesting book and a good translation, but one for fans of thrillers or shipwrecks, rather than me.

Title: The Island of Last Truth
Author: Flavia Company, translated from the Catalan by Laura McGloughlin
Publisher: Europe Editions
Date: Original 2011, translation 2012
Format: Paperback, 124 pages, and I was sent it by Europa Editions for review.


 
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