Monday, July 30, 2007

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume One, The Pox Party, by M.T. Anderson, 2006

Octavian, both the protege and the property of the Novanglian College of Lucidity, embarks upon a prolonged awakening, as cataclysmic as it is eloquent, to his status as a classically educated African slave in pre-Revolutionary Boston. A setting starkly convincing even its Gothic extremes, the Novanglian College of Lucidity with its absurdities and excesses is bound to feel rather more like modern America than not. An uncomfortable but necessary read; a staggering accomplishment; as a book jacket reviewer said (and I wish I'd thought of it), "A brilliantly complex interrogation of our basic American assumptions." Most strongly recommended (though not for very young or immature readers).

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