Trevor reviews The Winter Vault


U.S. edition

U.S. edition

Shadow Jury international member Trevor Berrett has posted his second review from the Giller shortlist, Anne Michael’s The Winter Vault. You can read the full review at the Mookse and the Gripes . Here’s an excerpt:

I remembered that when KevinfromCanada reviewed this book, he was disappointed, yet his review still made me want to read the book. The setting and topics sounded very interesting to me, so I was secretly pleased that it made the shortlist.

After reading it, I’m still fascinated by the topics and setting (oh! and the astute reader picks up on the limiting language I use in that sentence!). I’ll describe the setting first, as a kind of introduction to the plot. We start in southern Egypt, near the temple of Abu Simbel, in the mid-1960s when Abu Simbel was being removed from its original site where it had set for millenia, much of that time burried under sand. Because of the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the original site would flood causing Abu Simbel to be under water. Letting such a wonderous site die under water seemed wrong, so the Temple was cut up and relocated to higher ground. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to be the one who wielded the saw that made the first cut. Michaels does an excellent job presenting the tragic irony that was unfolding:

“The dam would make a gash so deep and long that the land would never recover. The water would pool, a blood blister of a lake. The wound would become infected — bilharzia, malaria — and in the new towns, modern loneliness and decay of every sort.”

My earlier review — and some very interesting comments — can be found here. Further comments are certainly welcome.

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