Review: An Island by Karen Jennings

“I was never against the country, never against independence. It was the shit that came after that I was against.”

This book. Wow.

When I initially heard of the book, it instantly reminded me of Tom Hank’s from Cast Away. Once I started reading the book I realised there was no similiarity at all between the two. But I was reminded of the books – The Mountains Sing by @nguyenphanquemai_ and The Wall by @gautam_bhatia_books 👌🏻

An Island is a book just under 200 pages but I am marvelled by the author’s capability to compress many political issues and critiques – ranging from displacement, the refugee crisis to dictatorship and revolution – into relatively few pages.

The author has managed to touch upon each subject while being tactful and consice. She manages to capture the minutest of decisions refugees have to make and options to choose from on a momentary basis – between home or survival, food or righteousness, adapt to the circumstances or fight from freedom, shame or acceptance – while also being sensitive to the voice she’s giving.

In the course of four days you come to know Samuel our protagonist. He’s a 70 year old man living on the island alone and isolated from the mainland for over 2 decades as the lighthouse keeper. You become a spectator to his flashbacks from a life before his job as a lighthouse keeper, which is triggered by the arrival of a man washing up onshore. You also become witness to many disturbing truths and an equally disturbing end.

I see why the book made it to the Longlist of The Booker and I also see why it didn’t make it to the Shortlist BUT it is a book worth your time and attention. I personally didn’t like the way the story came to an end but I suppose there was a certain finality to it which made me uncomfortable, there was a truth to it that I was in denial of which in turn makes it essential for one to read this fictional story straight out of reality.

I’d like to also thank @panmacmillanindia for sending me a review copy of the book.

About the author

I am Surbhi Sinha aka The Urban Reader from India. A city girl and a regular customer of the world's wordsmiths. I enjoy exploring and living several lives while reading books. A girl who tries to reflect the beauty of simplicity, appreciates the extraordinary magic woven in stories and enjoys exploring the cities. I eagerly look forward to sharing my adventures with you.

You can contact me on my email ->

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