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The Book of Strange New Things (2014)

de Michel Faber

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1,9731326,995 (3.71)155
"It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings--his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us" --… (més)
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» Mira també 155 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 128 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Peter Leigh is a bad boy (alcoholic, drug addict, burglar) turned pastor. He believes Christ has saved him from a life of ruin and despair and he is anxious to share his love and beliefs with the native inhabitants on a planet named Oasis. In order to carry the Word to the Oasans, he leaves his wife, Bea, behind on earth. During his absence, things on earth go rapidly downhill, and for Peter, on Oasis, there are a lot of things he does not know or understand about the Oasans or the other humans who are serving with him.

This is a sci-fi novel, in that it deals with humanity colonizing a planet in space, but it is far more a novel about miscommunication, misunderstanding, the erosion of convictions, and the importance of faith. Faber is fairly even-handed in dealing with religion. Faith, as he presents it, is both a source of strength and confusion for Peter. His attempts to tailor the Bible to a race of people who have no inclinations toward sin or need for forgiveness, no concept of so many of the meaning of Biblical metaphors that include things like fishermen, oceans, shepherds and sheep, begs the question of what purpose this book of strange and new things can even have for them. Do non-humans need God? Christ came to save mankind from sin...if there is no sin, is Christ needed? Should Peter Leigh be ministering to Oasans, or would he not be more needed and purposeful in ministering to humans on an earth that is deeply in trouble and supporting his wife, who is marooned in the disaster that is occuring there?

There is a much deeper level of meaning to this slow-moving tale of faith and loss. While I was reading this book, I kept thinking about [b:The Sparrow|334176|The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)|Mary Doria Russell|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1230829367s/334176.jpg|3349153]. There were similarities in a very general way, and I’m sorry to say that anything that conjures The Sparrow suffers by comparison. I have, therefore, subtracted a star from my rating for not being The Sparrow--quite unfair, but impossible not to compare them and impossible to rank them the same. Still a book well worth reading.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Read the opening chapters at the store. First off there was so much God, HIM and more annoying Christian do gooding for this books own good. I hated Peter. I will never get those moments I spent w this book back. If I could give negative stars I would. ( )
  Hamptot71 | Jul 18, 2022 |
Was there a point to this book? I read 300 hundred pages into the book and it was just plodding along. There was no point, no building up of suspense. Peter was just so plain as to be flat. He had no depth. And his background of addiction was so stereotypical that it was unbelievable.

I had to quit reading because it was just so mind numbingly boring and pointless. ( )
  pacbox | Jul 9, 2022 |
I wish I could give this book more stars. But there are things some writers do that I can't stand, and which, as is the case with this book, leave a rotten taste in my mouth. Michel Faber shows an undisguised condescension toward women and their looks. Why are most of the women in the book described in such brief but hideous ways? A "fat idiot" he thinks, about one; there is a butch looking woman (one of many, apparently) who is assumed to have ripped pages from a "lesbian" porn magazine to take to her room; a woman from Central America who looks like a "monkey"; and about Grainger, the woman he gets closest to on the compound, he says:

"Her cheekbones weren't particularly good. She had the sort of face that was beautiful only if she watched her diet and didn't get much older than she was now. As soon as age or over-indulgence filled out her cheeks and thickened her neck, even a little, she would cross a line from elfin allure into mannish homeliness. He felt sad for her, sad about the ease with which her physical destiny could be read by anyone who cared to cast a glance over her, sad about the matter-of-factness with which her genes stated the limits of what they were willing to do for her in the years to come, sad that she was at her peak now and still not fulfilled." (Of course, Peter's wife has particularly "good cheekbones". Too bad she has the typical pregnant woman's raging hormonal imbalance, forcing her to behave hysterically as the Earth goes to hell.)

Another irksome and repulsive intrusion on the story is Faber's need to let us know, often, what our Father Peter does with his "DNA", whether it's running down the drains, or on his abdomen.

I don't mean to say these things rip the novel of merit. But the story is a potentially intriguing romp through a remote landscape (literally and figuratively), with desolation and boredom in between moments of interesting psychological and philosophical drama and attachment. The insertion of the main character's unquestioned and unresolved misogyny, racism, ageism, homophobia, lend nothing to the narrative, except a reminder that the (rather unpleasant) author is never far away, despite his novel's attempt to be one that might matter with transcendence. These "moments" are a relentless distraction from an otherwise rather seamless and fascinating novel. Faber's writing, for the most part, feels self-assured and flows well, except when he needs, clearly, a simple way of describing his characters, then he falls into ugly cliches and stereotypes, which left me rolling my eyes, if not repulsed. ( )
  Ccyynn | Feb 15, 2022 |
The Book of Strange New Things contains futuristic technology, space travel, and extraterrestrial beings, but it is not science fiction. Instead, it is the portrait of a marriage.

Peter and Bea are a happy and deeply religious married couple. He is the minister of their church and a former drug addict. She is the lovely nurse who brought him to God. A mysterious corporation is colonizing a faraway planet, and Peter is chosen to preach the word of God to the native population. For unknown reasons, Bea cannot accompany him. They are confident their love can withstand the great distance. Part of their confidence unconsciously stems from the fact that they have never been apart before.

Unfortunately, Peter - like all the men I have dated - turns out to be crap at long-distance relationships. It turns out he has landed the cushiest missionary gig in the history of Christianity. The aliens already have some understanding of the Bible - they already speak some English! - and eagerly listen to his teachings. Peter is so absorbed by tending his flock and building his church that he does not always respond to his wife's letters.

Bea, in contrast, describes natural disasters that destroy entire countries and the collapse of Britain's infrastructure. The destruction, combined with pregnancy and her husband's seeming indifference, make Bea's letters more and more frantic, but Peter cannot - or will not - relate to her experiences. He has a frustrating lack of curiosity, especially regarding the motives of his employer, and is quite happy playing with his new alien friends. The central concern of the book is not what the corporation wants, or what the natives want, but what Peter wants!

Like [b:The Bone Clocks|20819685|The Bone Clocks|David Mitchell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1398205538s/20819685.jpg|26959610], The Book of Strange New Things raises more questions than it answers. It confused me, irritated me, and left me longing for more. Michel Faber has said this will be his last book, but I hope that he changes his mind and revisits this world that he created. ( )
  doryfish | Jan 29, 2022 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 128 (següent | mostra-les totes)
As someone who harbors a fondness for science fiction and thirsts for more complex treatment of religion in contemporary novels, I relished every chance to cloister myself away with “The Book of Strange New Things.” If it feels more contemplative than propulsive, if Faber repeatedly thwarts his own dramatic premises, he also offers exactly what I crave: a state of mingled familiarity and alienness that leaves us with questions we can’t answer — or forget.
afegit per zhejw | editaWashington Post, Ron Charles (Nov 25, 2014)
 
Since the critical and commercial triumph of Hilary Mantel, the historical novel is newly respectable. One hopes that Michel Faber can do something similar for speculative writing. Defiantly unclassifiable, “The Book of Strange New Things” is, among other things, a rebuke to the credo of literary seriousness for which there is no higher art than a Norwegian man taking pains to describe his breakfast cereal. As well as the literature of authenticity, Faber reminds us, there is a literature of enchantment, which invites the reader to participate in the not-real in order to wake from a dream of reality to the ineffability, strangeness and brevity of life on Earth.
afegit per zhejw | editaNew York Times, Marcel Theroux (Oct 30, 2014)
 
...like the best sci-fi or fantasy, the novel is really an examination of humanity. It is also a powerful and, one suspects, personal meditation on the limitations of the flesh, and the capacity of either love or faith to endure extreme pressure. Startlingly tender and bold in conception, it offers a bleak vision of our future that also holds fast to the hope that, in Larkin’s phrase, “what will survive of us is love”.
afegit per _Zoe_ | editaThe Guardian, Stephanie Merritt (Oct 26, 2014)
 
The book isn’t without a few niggling problems.... But the genuinely inquisitive and searching story in The Book of Strange New Things ultimately trumps such minor logistical concerns. This is a novel of big ideas by a writer of unusual intelligence and lucidity, and it lingers in the mind after the final page is turned.
afegit per _Zoe_ | editaThe Independent, Doug Johnstone (Oct 25, 2014)
 

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"It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings--his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us" --

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