Thursday, October 1, 2009
Book Review of The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott
In 1999 Lian Jiang is surprised by a letter from Emil Todorovic in Bosnia-Herzegovina about Gray Banick who disappeared in July 1995. Emil has custody of Gray's remaining possessions and since he had spoken of her and written her over the years, Emil considered her his next-of-kin contact. The news comes as a shock. Though she is now married to an up-and-coming Chinese surgeon, Lian is driven to find Gray. She flies to Bosnia and meets up with two other people whose lives Gray Banick had touched.
Lian Jiang, Emil Todorovic, his interpreter and friend, and Jack MacKenzie, Gray's mentor gather in Sarajevo to find out what happened to Gray. With little information to go on, they retrace Gray's steps in the war ravaged countryside. Each person carries their stories of grief and love.
Carefully crafted, The Evolution of Shadows, brings us deep into the lives of Lian, Emil, and Jack while gradually hinting who Gray is as a person. Lian came alive through the flashbacks, her internal monologues during the moments of reflection and through what we learn of the man that she married. Emil is probably the most sympathetic character, in part because he is so battered by tragedy and yet continues to push on. Jack gives us a glimpse of the life of an older and veteran journalist whose has spent most of his career covering foreign wars - his combination of emotional isolation, cynicism and sense of hope. I enjoyed Evolution of Shadows, it's an unusual book and draws you in. Also, I thought that Jason Quinn Malot's handled the interracial relationship between Lian and Gray with sensitivity.
Publisher: Unbridled Books (October 20, 2009), 272 pages.
Courtesy of Unbridled Books.
About the Author, courtesy of his website:
Jason Quinn Malott has a BA in Creative Writing from Kansas State University and an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University (The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. He has worked as a dishwasher, a short order cook, a barista, a newspaper stringer, a photographer, a phonebook chucker, a market research associate, an in-bound call center operator, a movie house troll, a bookseller, a bookstore inventory manager, a technical writer, and an adjunct composition instructor. He is the publisher and the Editor-in-Chief of the online literary journal "The Project for a New Mythology" at pfanm.com. The Evolution of Shadows is his first novel. He is currently working on his second. Learn more at Jason Quinn Malott's website at http://www.jquinnmalott.com/_/Welcome.html