Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: Mameluke Bath

Mameluke Bath
Mameluke Bath by Andrew Asibong

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Literary Fiction
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: People who like deep stories exploring dark ideas
Trigger Warnings: abuse of immigrants and minorities, (essentially) slavery, sweatshops, child abuse and neglect, murder

My Thoughts: I don't even know where to begin with this one. My rating is not about the quality of the book. This book is very well-written, almost lyrical at times. My rating is based upon the fact that this just isn't the sort of book I like. It turned out to be different from what I expected. I had hoped for a magical reality or fantasy and instead this is dark realism, very harsh, very ugly world in which asylum-seekers in England are essentially enslaved and treated like subhumans. It will probably enrage a lot of people to think of these sorts of abuses.

Another reason I didn't enjoy the book more was that I found Christie to be unbearably annoying. She has a bad attitude, a bad temper, treats everyone around her like dirt, and constantly complains about how unfair life is. The only character in this book that I didn't intensely dislike was Damon aka Diamond, and many of his sections are first-person, present-tense stream-of-consciousness, so somewhat hard to read. However, obviously the characters are well-defined and developed, because you cannot dislike someone who don't understand, right?

Also, the last two chapters of this book are the same. That is, the chapter simply repeats. I have no idea why it is like that, I assume it is some sort of error. It appears that it is the last chapter of the book, so I was able to read the whole thing; it was just weird to have that extra, duplicate chapter slapped on.

So, if this all sounds like something you would be interested in, check this book out.

Disclosure: I received an e-book ARC from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer's program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Mameluke Bath is the bizarre story of Christie Smithkin, a 39-year-old misfit, misanthrope and virgin, who lives in the nightmarish English city of St Pauly. 

Friendless, paranoid, and lacking the funds she needs for the completion of her PhD thesis, mixed-race Christie’s only hope lies in a new ‘asylum-seeker mentoring’ scheme for which she has recently volunteered as a mentor. Offering guidance to recently-arrived African refugees fleeing torture will, she prays, provide her with a sense of social purpose and perhaps even emotional connection. 

Christie’s plan goes awry when she discovers that Mukelenge, her Congolese mentee, has already been assigned a mentor: Damon, a cheerful, vapid, white male nurse. Worse still, Mukelenge is settling into urban East Midlands society with unnerving confidence and poise. Piqued by the immigrant’s miraculous feats of integration, Christie becomes uncontrollably jealous when she realises that Mukelenge is also casting a spell of seduction over the handsome, doll-like Damon. 

Christie’s determination to solve the mystery of Mukelenge’s identity, to rescue Damon from the real or imagined horrors of a zombie-factory deep in the woods, and to come to terms with her own terrifying childhood, will hurtle all three protagonists towards a macabre conclusion in the nearby spa town of Mameluke Bath.

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