A Year in Reading: Patricia Engel

December 16, 2015 | 1 book mentioned

coverOf the many excellent books I’ve read this year, the one that has haunted me for months after finishing it is In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás González, a tiny novel about a young cosmopolitan couple’s obsessive pursuit of a bohemian and utopian existence on a remote tropical island. Elena and J. have the world at their feet — money, careers, and status in their hometown of Medellín — yet it’s not enough. They want something deeper, something more meaningful, and are convinced they know how to get it, buying property and setting up a home in a rural seaside community where they find themselves not entirely welcomed by locals. Even with daily setbacks, challenged by both the land and the people, they have so much faith in the sea outside their door that they refuse to give up on their idea of paradise or see how their dream is quietly destroying their lives. In spare language, short, clipped sentences, González offers a gorgeous yet utterly terrifying tale of how nature, humanity, and our own obsessions can betray us in the worst ways imaginable. Said to be based on true events, this is a story that I don’t think I will ever be able to shake.

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is the author of Vida and It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris. Her new novel, The Veins of the Ocean, is forthcoming from Grove Press in 2016.

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