Blurb from goodreads.com, please scroll down for my review
Anguille is a 17-year-old girl who leaves her rock on the archipelago of Comoros to lose herself at sea. She drifts between two states of mind and between two islands ‘in a hollow maze’, evoking her memories so as to forget nothing and so as to delay the inevitable outcome.
Confronted with the pressing immediacy of imminent death, Anguille recounts the story of her whole life in one long, sustained breath, in a series of brief couplets. But what Anguille recounts, in an assured voice which heralds a shipwreck, is also something other than her life something much deeper below the ground, or rather the sea, which has to do with the species and what is immemorial. It is the story of a fight for survival in which everyone becomes a predator.
A story told in a single sentence, A Girl Called Eel is a memorial, a reckoning, and a powerful narrative imbued with a prevailing sense of urgency.
“It is rare to say about a book that you have never read anything like it, and this is one such case.” — Elle
“A pure diamond, a magnificent event. A mind-blowing debut novel.” -Le Point
Ali Zamir was born on Anjouan in the Comoros. He studied French Literature at the University of Cairo and attained his Master s degree from there in 2010. He has since returned to Anjouan where he has been the Director of Culture and Cooperative Activities for the island since 2014. First published in French as Anguille sous roche by Le Tripode in 2016, A Girl Called Eel is his first novel.
“People talk about having a good name, as if a name could be bad or ugly in some way, or they say they were born under a lucky star, as if that was all it took to have the world as your feet.”
First of all a huge shoutout to Jacaranda books who donated this book.
Welcome to my journey around the world through books. Today we are visiting country number 64 Comoros Islands, with the book A Girl Called Eel by Ali Zamir.
A huge shout out to Jacaranda Books (link in the description below) for donating this book.
It is rather unusual to read two books back to back that have unique writing styles. The previous book was Transparent City by Ondjaki, you can see that review here.
This style is similar, but in this case there is one very, very long sentence that uses many commas, there are no full stops, there are no breaks or chapters. Even so, it is not too hard to understand.
Ali Zamir, the author writes about a 17 year old teenager who lives with her twin and her father, with some very unusual names, All-Knowing, Eel, Rattler, Voracious, Voila, Miraculous all living on the isolated island of Anjouan on the Comoro Islands. Eel is an interesting character, she knows what she wants, but this does not always turn out to be the best or the right thing.
The beginning of the book makes you feel like you are drowning which is a little suffocating which illustrates how good the writing is. Written in first person, from the point of view of Eel, we get to know her and her past, her family, her desires and woes. The interesting parts are how they twins for their names, along with small details of the history of the island. There is little dialogue, lots of descriptions and narrative.
It is not easy to review this book as there is little similar to it, but this book is well worth reading, even more so as it is a debut novel written by a relatively young male author who hit it on the nail writing about a 17 year old female teenager
This is a good solid young adult or coming of age book.
I give this book 4 stars.
Next we are travelling all the way to Haiti in the next book, See you in the next country.