El Jardin Devastado (The Devastated Garden) is a contemporary novel, written by Mexican author Jorge Volpi, and published in 2008. (Goodreads)
Genre: fiction, contemporary, magical realism
More like the stories, because two stories are intertwined in this book. The chapters are really short, almost poetic, and describe two very different lives, between the 1990s and the 2000s.
The narrator is a Mexican intellactual, who lives between his home country, Europe and the United States. His story line mostly follows his love life, and his – if I may – boring life.
The other storyline follows that of an Iraqi woman, Leila, who just lost her father, her husband and her baby boy because of war and terrorism. She is desperate, and takes the road to find the remaining members of her family. On the road, she meets a djiin, who agrees to help her under one condition… which I won’t reveal to you because it would spoil the story.
My rating: ★★★★☆
I really liked this book. It was, like Pedro Paramo, another fascinating book. Through those books, I discovered magical realism, and it is such a great discovery! I need more like those. I’m so glad I have found a new genre that I like. This is the second Mexican book that I read, and it certainly won’t be the last.
It was a quick read, and really enjoyable.
The writing style was absolutely fantastic. I know I say this often, but this was definitely something different. It was truly beautiful, and sometimes felt almost poetic, which gave an interesting dimension to the story. It was really pleasant.
Leila was a really strong and determined character, and I really loved her parts of the story. I always wanted to know what would happen next, and I loved how she was ready to do anything to reunite with her family, and how she simply accepted her fate. Her story was a sad and beautiful one.
On the other hand, I wasn’t much of a fan of the narrator’s storyline. Some parts were good and interesting on an anthropological point of view, but I didn’t find him really endearing.
Overall, it was a really good, beauitful and interesting book! Another lovely surprise straight from Mexico. I recommend it if you like contemporaries and adult fiction, and if you’re looking for something a bit different or out of your comfort zone!