Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fiction: Ray of the Star by Laird Hunt

2009 has been an incredible year -- a breakthrough year, perhaps -- for fiction that pushes the boundaries of storytelling and, certainly, of genre. Perhaps the most visible of these was China Miéville’s incredible The City and the City. If you liked that one and have been hungering for something that approaches the tone and originality of Miéville’s most recent creation, it seems quite possible to me that you’ll also like Laird Hunt’s fourth novel.

In most regards, the two books are almost nothing alike, but for a few important things. In both novels, dynamic young authors have reached beyond what is usual and what has been done to tell their imaginative – and entirely different -- stories in new and compelling ways. In both of these examples, they are mostly -- though not always -- successful.

Like The City and the City, Ray of the Star (Coffee House Press) is set in an imaginary European city. In Hunt’s book, however, the city we think of most is Barcelona. The stories are as reflective of the cities they’re not set in, as well. Where The City and the City is skillfully cold and distant, the world Hunt creates here seems to vibrate with warmth and light.

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