and of Marvels
by Barry Unsworth
Barry Unsworth’s “memorable” new tale about Westerners in 1914 Mesopotamia can be read as a protest against the arrogance that led the U.S. into Iraq five years ago, said Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post. Unsworth’s 16th novel sends a naïve English archaeologist into a hive of intrigue and double-dealing, and the protagonist’s humble quest for knowledge proves no match for his rivals’ thirst for oil. But Land of Marvels’ characters are so “believable and interesting,” and its plotting so intricate, that the book can simply be read “as singularly skillful entertainment.” There’s “mystery aplenty”—and murder, too, said Martin Rubin in the Los Angeles Times. What’s more, it’s all set against a compelling historical backdrop. Even so, Land of Marvels can’t be counted among the best efforts by Unsworth, a Man Booker Prize winner. The book is weakened by “wooden dialogue” and plot turns that “the reader can see coming a mile off.” You can enjoy the novel in much the way you’d enjoy a “smart puzzle,” said Clea Simon in the Boston Phoenix. But Land of Marvels “falls short of timelessness.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why are so many elderly Asians killing themselves?
- Why ABC threw its Bachelor under the bus
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like
- Why I'm sick and tired of seeing naked women on HBO
- Driverless cars may be an environmental disaster
- Repealing ObamaCare would now mean kicking 4.2 million people off their new insurance plans
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why Ted Cruz is the real-life Frank Underwood
- Here's proof that Justin Bieber is just as spoiled as you always thought
- Watch Zach Galifianakis get annoyed at President Obama on Between Two Ferns
Subscribe to the Week