Land of Hope
on Nov. 07, 2012
It is universally accepted that life is full of coincidences, and I wish to share with you one such coincidence, a most insignificant one I expect you to say, but which happened to make me smile.
Shortly before Junying offered me the opportunity to read her new book –which by the way also depicts quite a few steaming sensual encounters, and instances of rather sizzling eroticism- I heard a joke alluding to the allegedly sensual and passionate nature of Italian nationals. It was delivered to me as a joke, I repeat, and it goes like this: one morning in Italy a radio presenter informs his listeners that according to a recent survey 50% of their citizens were cheating on their partners: “So if it’s not you, then it is your wife” he concluded most resolutely.
Coincidentally, as I said, I heard this joke about the same time I came to become acquainted to a fictional stranger, a very passionate driven woman called Pearl, the main character in Junying’s book Land of Hope, whose job as a police interpreter brings her more often than not in an uncomfortable close proximity to the criminal world.
I engaged -I must admit- rather tentatively in this exercise. My apprehension stemmed I guess from the fear that she might be some embodiment of flawless perfection and righteousness which would make all my own imperfections seem even heavier and more unforgivable in my own eyes. I am glad to say I was wrong and my fears were unfounded; pretty soon, after reading only a few pages I couldn’t help but warm up to Junying’s main female character.
At times Pearl feels crushed under suffocating doubts like all of us, she needs and asks for advice from trusted friends before making some decisions, and yes, Horror of Horrors she makes mistakes. Like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us she lives to regret some of her errors -heart wrenchingly so, especially when there is no turning back -the dice having had been irretrievably cast. Her subsequent happiness -if there is one to be had- depends on such errors being forgiven by those close to her. And how often did we ourselves pray/hoped most fervently that forgiveness would be bestowed upon us too, when we happened to make as they say a hash of things. No, I did not feel patronised in any way by Pearl, on the contrary she was rendered more realistically human precisely because of her flaws, tormenting indecisions, hope against hope dreams of happiness.
As for the other characters in the book, all I can say is that once I started reading the book I certainly wanted to know what was going to happen to them next, so I felt compelled to carry on reading. There are a number of intertwined threads within the book, each of these threads following the lives of different sets of characters over shorter or longer periods of time. Some of the minor characters are only sketched, which for this particular reader was a bonus, I for one was grateful to be allowed the liberty to fill in gaps in the portrayal of characters, the opportunity to put flesh on bones in accordance with my own views, opinions, in general on ideas derived from my own life experience. The author has definitely recognised the benefits of a minimalist approach, the fact that at times less is definitely more.
Finally I can only congratulate our friend Junying for her achievement in writing yet another book, and just to prove that I took on board her -as always delicate- words in respect of my (let’s say often misunderstood by others) sense of humour, I wish to reassure her that the joke at the beginning does indeed conform with the well established and worldwide esteemed high standards of the BBC, and it is well within the said boundaries (I did actually check) so there is no call to worry needlessly. On this rare occasion ...
And finally-finally I wish Ms Kirk the greatest success, and hopefully she would have gathered enough material by now whilst away in holiday to start writing a new book soon.