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The Town of Babylon: A Novel de Alejandro…
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The Town of Babylon: A Novel (edició 2022)

de Alejandro Varela (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
583404,959 (3.71)4
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022 - BuzzFeed, LitHub, Electric Literature, LGBTQ Reads, Latinx in Publishing "A gay Latinx man reckons with his past when he returns home for his 20th high school class reunion in Varela's dazzling debut...an incandescent bildungsroman" -Starred review, Publisher's Weekly "Varela's debut novel shimmers with tension, navigating the personal and political with practiced ease. Treading the waters of adolescence and adulthood, The Town of Babylon navigates the complexities of home, queerness, and messy histories with measure and empathy. Weaving together histories of immigration, economic unease, and the health complications of racism in America, Varela troubles ideas of community and shared experience amidst a polarizing landscape." -Kaitlynn Cassady,Seminary Co-op Bookstores " An intense, astute meditation on race, family, class, love, and friendship. Varela's wry humor is the icing on the cake of this brilliant novel." -Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction "An incisive taxonomy of the American suburb, looking beyond the white picket fence to tell a different story-what it is to be queer, the child of immigrants, and a person of color in this country."-Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind, finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction A debut novel about domestic malaise and suburban decline, following Andres, a gay Latinx professor, returning to his hometown for a twenty-year high school reunion. When his father falls ill, Andres, a professor of public health, returns to his suburban hometown to tend to his father's recovery. Reevaluating his rocky marriage in the wake of his husband's infidelity and with little else to do, he decides to attend his twenty-year high school reunion, where he runs into the long-lost characters of his youth. Jeremy, his first love, is now married with two children after having been incarcerated and recovering from addiction. Paul, who Andres has long suspected of having killed a man in a homophobic attack, is now an Evangelical minister and father of five. AndSimone, Andres's best friend, is in a psychiatric institution following a diagnosis of schizophrenia. During this short stay, Andres confronts these relationships, the death of his brother, and the many sacrifices his parents made to offer him a better life. A novel about the essential nature of community in maintaining one's own health, The Town of Babylon is an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity, a call to reevaluate the ties of societal bonds and the systems in which they are forged.… (més)
Membre:madeliner21
Títol:The Town of Babylon: A Novel
Autors:Alejandro Varela (Autor)
Informació:Astra House (2022), 320 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:Cap

Informació de l'obra

The Town of Babylon de Alejandro Varela

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» Mira també 4 mencions

Es mostren totes 3
2.5-3 stars

Andrés returns to his hometown on Long Island and attends his 20th high school reunion. He is out, he is married (if in an argument), he is a professor. He has also lost track of all of his high school friends. He reconnects with his secret high school boyfriend, his high school crowd, and finds his best friend. He stays with his parents. He considers his town's history and where he and his family fit in. There are a lot of threads to this story--his late brother, his best friend, his parents, his former friend. There is sadness and cruelty, kindness and friendship.

In the end though, after all of these threads and Andrés own questionable behavior, it all wraps up very quickly and neatly. There are no consequences for anyone's chosen bad behavior. Rather, the mothers (Andrés's and Simone's) blame themselves for things that were not their fault. So they feel guilt and the men go about their lives. Disappointing. ( )
  Dreesie | Oct 21, 2022 |
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: In this contemporary debut novel—an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity—Andrés, a gay Latinx professor, returns to his suburban hometown in the wake of his husband’s infidelity. There he finds himself with no excuse not to attend his twenty-year high school reunion, and hesitantly begins to reconnect with people he used to call friends.

Over the next few weeks, while caring for his aging parents and navigating the neighborhood where he grew up, Andrés falls into old habits with friends he thought he’d left behind. Before long, he unexpectedly becomes entangled with his first love and is forced to tend to past wounds.

Captivating and poignant; a modern coming-of-age story about the essential nature of community, The Town of Babylon is a page-turning novel about young love and a close examination of our social systems and the toll they take when they fail us.

I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU.

My Review
: This is a debut novel.

I wanted to get that out there now, because while it's not perfect...it was going to be a three-and-a-half-star read until a certain point...it's got the extra insight and clarity to lift the read to the next level. A polyphonic novel that travels back and forth between the 1990s, when Andrés left Babylon, and now, when his return is less an actual return than a retreat from the mess in his present-day life enabled by his sudden discovery that his mother needs help caring for his gravely ill father.

Andrés is a first-generation American, his parents immigrants whose relationship to the USA is fraught with the usual complexities and exacerbated by their closeted-but-clearly-queer son. His unhappiness, his entire life being spent trying to hide and not to call attention to himself, impacted them...but we're not really, despite the set-up, here for them. And that would've made things a lot more agreeable to me had we been let into that experience...but that isn't Andrés's story to tell. So, no sense blaming the story for not delivering something it didn't promise me.

As Andrés spends time with the awful US health-care system, he also decides whether his marital issues might be contextualized by a trip to his twentieth high-school reunion. (I've never been to a high-school reunion...leaving that place was a joy, going back seems perverse.) It's here that I begin to think, "oh boy, here we go down Bad-Memory Lane" and I was vindicated. A homophobe that Andrés strongly suspects was involved in an act of lethal anti-gay violence? A preacher now! His first love? Married with children! Tick, tick, tick as the expected dominoes fall. What saves the story is the anti-capitalist anger of it:
The suburbs are where people go to preserve their ignorance, in service of a delusion they've mistaken for a dream. They tired of the more interesting human experiment and fled. Cowards, the lot. Working class, middle class, and one-percenters alike.
–and–
There are places in this world where people worry less intensely and with less frequency. Places where the hierarchy isn't stretched tall and people aren't perched high above their loved ones. Egalitarian places, where families don't have to be self-contained battalions constantly defending against their neighbors and other strangers. But not here.
I completely concur. I, in fact, would go far more into the area...which is why we're reading Author Varela's book, not mine. It's a very interesting story for the middle-aged multitudes, this review of the past to come to some peace with the present. But honestly, I'm past middle age and I was getting more than a little antsy with a storytelling technique that I myownself feel works best in stories about younger people, eg The Prophets.

Then I read this:
Going home makes it impossible to forget the past, but it also ushers the past into the present, reconstructing it, making it easier to face.
And the view snapped into focus, I added that half-star back, and am recommending the read to you whole-heartedly. ( )
  richardderus | Jun 5, 2022 |
Alejandro Varela considers many themes in his debut novel: life in a working class suburb; struggles of first generation immigrants; the adolescent awakening of gay lust; reconciling your adult self with your young self; sibling family dynamics; marital infidelity; schizophrenic DNA; racism; Trumpism. He uses these quite well.

Andres, later "Andy", returns to his bleak home town, after a long absence, for a 20th year high school reunion. His first. He is now a university professor of public health and in a same-sex marriage to a Black physician. They live in the "city", unnamed, but most likely New York.

The story of Andy's return to his childhood home proceeds as he interacts with his parents (mother El Salvadoran, father Colombian), his high school gay lover, his best female friend, and others. Varela skillfully mixes the visit with extensive flashbacks. He uses dialogue well and often switches the narrator from Andy to others.

The author's deviations to deliver psychological "doctrines" are less successful. An example: "Apart from communion, humans, like most other animals, require a degree of control over their lives. They deplete faster without it. The healthier humans have strong bonds within their societies, as well as agency over their destinies. When the former is weak, the latter compensates for the difference. And vice versa."

By the conclusion of the book we have come to know at least five characters very well. The ending is mostly "happily ever after." ( )
  bbrad | May 10, 2022 |
Es mostren totes 3
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ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022 - BuzzFeed, LitHub, Electric Literature, LGBTQ Reads, Latinx in Publishing "A gay Latinx man reckons with his past when he returns home for his 20th high school class reunion in Varela's dazzling debut...an incandescent bildungsroman" -Starred review, Publisher's Weekly "Varela's debut novel shimmers with tension, navigating the personal and political with practiced ease. Treading the waters of adolescence and adulthood, The Town of Babylon navigates the complexities of home, queerness, and messy histories with measure and empathy. Weaving together histories of immigration, economic unease, and the health complications of racism in America, Varela troubles ideas of community and shared experience amidst a polarizing landscape." -Kaitlynn Cassady,Seminary Co-op Bookstores " An intense, astute meditation on race, family, class, love, and friendship. Varela's wry humor is the icing on the cake of this brilliant novel." -Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction "An incisive taxonomy of the American suburb, looking beyond the white picket fence to tell a different story-what it is to be queer, the child of immigrants, and a person of color in this country."-Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind, finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction A debut novel about domestic malaise and suburban decline, following Andres, a gay Latinx professor, returning to his hometown for a twenty-year high school reunion. When his father falls ill, Andres, a professor of public health, returns to his suburban hometown to tend to his father's recovery. Reevaluating his rocky marriage in the wake of his husband's infidelity and with little else to do, he decides to attend his twenty-year high school reunion, where he runs into the long-lost characters of his youth. Jeremy, his first love, is now married with two children after having been incarcerated and recovering from addiction. Paul, who Andres has long suspected of having killed a man in a homophobic attack, is now an Evangelical minister and father of five. AndSimone, Andres's best friend, is in a psychiatric institution following a diagnosis of schizophrenia. During this short stay, Andres confronts these relationships, the death of his brother, and the many sacrifices his parents made to offer him a better life. A novel about the essential nature of community in maintaining one's own health, The Town of Babylon is an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity, a call to reevaluate the ties of societal bonds and the systems in which they are forged.

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