A Far Country

Daniel Mason, Author . Knopf $24 (268p) ISBN 978-0-375-41466-4

In this flat but intermittently intriguing follow-up to his bestselling debut, The Piano Tuner , Mason takes readers to two impoverished locales in an unnamed, possibly South American (and heavily Catholic) country: a rural area known as the backlands, and the Settlements, the poor outskirts of a large city. When drought and deprivation become overwhelming in the backlands, 14-year-old Isabel is sent by her family to live with relatives in the Settlement. Her older brother, Isaias, moved to the city several months earlier, and Isabel expects a happy reunion; however, he has gone missing. As Isabel tends to her cousin's baby and adjusts to the chaotic city life, the search for Isaias becomes her obsession, demanding all of her resources—including what may be psychic powers. The story's settings fail to evoke a distinct world; the backlands seem taken from the 1930s American Dust Bowl, while the city—with its nonspecific political corruption, simmering class tensions, and the popularity of saints, soccer and soap operas among its residents—is a grab bag of regional clichés. Mason's strength is in description, and though his accounts of severe weather reach a visceral peak, Isabel is primarily an observer. Readers may be wooed by the prose, but the story is a snoozer. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Hardcover - 392 pages - 978-1-4056-1815-1
Hardcover - 391 pages - 978-0-7862-9535-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4159-3600-9
Paperback - 267 pages - 978-1-4000-3039-2
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-4186-5
Hardcover - 392 pages - 978-1-4056-1814-4
Open Ebook - 145 pages - 978-0-307-26721-4
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