Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Sound of Language




Raihana leaves Afghanistan as the Taliban are wreaking havoc on her people and her country. She goes to a refugee camp in Pakistan then to Denmark to live with a distant cousin. She is given a small allowance by the government and must complete Danish language classes. Raihana thinks that the Danish language sounds like a thousand bees buzzing just like her uncle's bees before the Taliban killed him.

Gunnar, an elder Danish man, has just lost his wife Anna. He spends his days drinking and smoking. Bee keeping, something that Anna was very passionate about is no longer an interest to Gunnar. The bees will die without proper care.

Raihana is learning Danish quickly. It's time to get a part-time job as a part of her asylum. Christina, Anna's best friend and Riahana's teacher, learns that Raihana helped keep bees as a little girl. Christina convinces Gunnar to let Riahana help with the bees.

Gunnar and Raihana over come many obstacles in the months that she visits his home. At first she sits in the garage waiting for him to come out of his house. While in the garage she finds a diary. It's Anna's diary, A Year of Keeping Bees. As Gunnar finally comes out of his house, he teaches Riahana how to care for the bees and Anna, though deceased, is teaching Riahana thru her diary.

Not only have Raihana and Gunnar overcome their own personal hardships but they also face more hardships as both cultures disagree with the arrangement.

Amulya Malladi tackles so much in this novel. This is her fifth novel and it is by far my favorite. She shows the reader what it is like to be a refugee in a foreign land, to learn a new language, and to build a new life. All of the characters learn something. Their prejudices are broken down. Their horizons widened. Ms. Malladi goes much deeper in this novel than her others. It is amazing how smoothly she approaches the topic of skin color, cultural misconceptions, rascism, and religion without going too deep. I felt like she stepped outside of the box just enough to create a beautiful story.

The Sound of Language will capture you the moment you read the first sentence and you won't be able to put it down until the very last page.

Everyone should read this story.

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2 comments:

nietzschean-ghost said...

Good review, I will follow on to the authors site to find out more. Thanks for this!

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I am an identical twin. I am married with three children currently residing in PA. From California. Attended three high schools in three states and seven colleges in three states in seven years. I have a degree in photography and journalism