Please forgive the lack of updates as I lazily make my way through Bolano’s 2666. It’s a monster, as you know.
In the interim, wanted to placehold this list of books to check out later:
This book conked me on the head, dragged me into a cave, and fed me delicious bits of primordial ooze that rendered me senseless for hours. I have not fallen under the spell of a book like this in a long time. Go forth, read it, and be prepared to shut the world out until you finish it.
Conjoined twins born to a nun who died during delivery, impregnated by the surgeon attending her birthing, in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The twins were separated during the birth process, named Shiva and Marion, and raised by surrogate parents Hema and Ghosh, a couple of talented doctors operating in exile from their native India. The four of them, along with their cook and maid and her daughter, make up the family unit.
The majority of the book takes place at Missing hospital outside Addis Ababa, with the Matron running the show, and Ghosh patiently tutoring his sons on medical matters (“you can’t finish if you don’t begin!”). Insert periods of unrest due to rebels and coups. Insert female genital mutilation and the horrors that go along with it.
Genet (the daughter of the maid) is raised as a daughter along with the twins, and is the object of Marion’s desire. A shadow character, she is ultimately responsible for his fleeing Ethiopia (she is arrested for hijacking an airplane, one of her coconspirators falsely gives Marion’s name as an ally under torture). Marion escapes to America, does residency at a poor hospital in Queens, full of trauma victims. He encounters Thomas Stone, his blood-father, during a chance meeting when Thomas swoops in for organ harvesting.
On the day Marion becomes board certified as a surgeon, he has the cabbie take him to Roxbury, where the Queen of Sheba supposedly has real Ethiopian food. There he finds his old neighbor, a woman he helped when her baby died. She offers him her body, he spills his tale of Genet, Shiva, and the resulting chaos, for the first time. Eventually, she sends Genet to his doorstep, fresh from prison and carrying Hep B. Marion succumbs in 6 weeks and is on death’s door when Hema and Shiva arrive from Ethiopia. The first ever live-donor liver transplant takes place when Shiva donates a piece of his liver, but eventually dies from brain aneurism. As he dies, he creeps back into Marion’s body.
Marion ends up in Ethiopia, helping at Missing hospital.
YES YES YES