Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Jon Courtenay Grimwood: Felaheen

Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a writer who has been praised here before, notably for last year's 9tail Fox. Which was relatively accessible, as I believe they say in the publishing business these days.

Accessible, in its extreme form, means that a book can be read by someone whose lips move as the eyes scan the page. But no amount of lip movement is gonna get you through this one. Not on its own. This one requires a certain amount of nous.

Felaheen is one of Grimwood's earlier works, though still his seventh novel, and its subtitle is The Third Arabesk. Thus indicating that it follows Pashazade and Effendi which were the first and second Arabesks respectively.

We are in science-fiction territory here, and, as in all such novels (and perhaps as in all novels, period), the action takes place in a parallel universe in which things as not quite the same as they are here.

Central character is Ashraf Bey, who may or may not be the son of Moncef, Emir of Tunis, who may or may not be close to death, after an assassination attempt. But there are plenty of other characters, including Lady Hana al-Mansur, known as Hani, who is either ten or eleven, no one seems quite sure, and whom I rather took to.

I have to say that this book is seriously weird. I mean, like, seriously weird. I quite enjoyed it, but it sure as hell isn't going to appeal to everyone. Rest assured, however, that Grimwood knows exactly what he is up to. Even if the rest of us are sometimes left scratching our heads.

Details of all Grimwood's output on FantasticFiction, as usual.


Anonymous said...

I loved _Felaheen_ (although I thought the previous instalment, _Effendi_, was better). I fully agree on the weirdness. Indeed, Grimwood is a writer whose work I enjoy immensely without ever really feeling like I have a clue what's going on - or why, exactly, I like it! Still keep buying, and reading, though...

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