Thursday, June 5, 2014

El Turno del Escriba by Graciela Montes

Why I read this book

I am on a quest to try and read all the winners of the Alfaguara book award :) It's part of my plan to increase the amount of books I read in Spanish that were also originally written in Spanish.

What the book is about

Is 1298, Rustichello de Pisa has been a prisoner in Genoa for a long time. Now he has encountered a fellow prisoner that turns out to be Marco Polo. His travelling stories are full of adventure and foreign charm that de Pisa would love to transcribe and share with the world

First impressions

The book starts a bit slow, introducing the main character, the city of Genoa...the problem is that is continues to be slow...and, for me at least, it ends up slow.

Final thoughts

I don't have a general problem with slow books when there is something else carrying the story, case in point, The Goldfinch. It is a fairly slow paced book, but it doesn't feel that way, because the descriptions are so beautiful that for me it carried the story. This was sadly not the case for this book.

While I was not expecting a retale of Marco Polo's Livre des merveilles du monde I was hoping for bits of it, the excitement, and the description. But no..There are practically no dialogues with Marco Polo; there is only the description of Rustichello saying how last night Polo said something, but even then it is very vague.

The think that made me give a 3 to this book, even though I wasn't enjoying it that much, was seeing an scribe turn into a full writer, feeling the voids in the story, creating and not just transcribing. I believe is this, paired with the historical part that felt well researched, that made the book won the award that year.

I honestly wouldn't know to whom I would recommend this book if I was to do so. Hence me giving it a 3...more like a 2.5, but I gave the extra .5 because of the researched that was obviously behind the book. 

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