Marshlands

Marshlands

A Novel

Book - 2014
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Baker & Taylor
Written in reverse, describes the story of an aging prisoner who is released only to be rescued from an assault by a curator, who works at a museum exhibiting “the marshes,” a conflict-torn wilderness where the former prisoner committed his crime. 20,000 first printing.

McMillan Palgrave

"A first novel of considerable maturity: powerful, original, cunningly constructed, and timely." —Julian Barnes, author of The Sense of an Ending

After years alone in a cell, an aging prisoner is released without explanation, expelled into a great city now utterly unfamiliar to him. Broken by years of brutality at the hands of the prison guards, he scrounges for scraps, sleeping wild, until a museum curator rescues him from an assault. The museum has just opened its most controversial exhibit: a perfect replica of the marshes, an expansive wilderness still wracked by conflict. There the man had spent years as a doctor among the hated and feared marshmen, who have been colonized but never conquered.
Then Marshlands reveals one of its many surprises: it is written in reverse. The novel leaps backward once, twice, returning to the marshes and unraveling time to reveal the doctor's ambiguous relationship to the austerely beautiful land and its people. As the pieces of his past come together, a great crime and its consequences begin to take shape. The true nature of the crime and who committed it will be saved for the breathtaking ending—or, rather, for the beginning.
In the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger's The Marsh Arabs and J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Marshlands explores a culture virtually snuffed out under Saddam Hussein, and how we cement our identities by pointing at someone to call "other." Elegant, brief, and searing, Matthew Olshan's Marshlands shivers with the life of a fragile, lost world.



Baker
& Taylor

A novel written in reverse relates the story of an aging prisoner who is released only to be rescued from an assault by a curator, who works at a museum exhibiting "the marshes," a conflict-torn wilderness where the former prisoner committed his crime.

Publisher: New York :, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374199395
0374199396
Characteristics: 164 pages ; 22 cm

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Jane60201 Jul 27, 2014

An interesting idea but it takes a while to figure out what is going on. The big city he is released into sounds a lot like Washington DC but the conflict with the indigenes sounds more like the Palestinians and the Israelis. I guess it's a comment on empire building.

g
gvlee
Jul 15, 2014

A beautifully written novel about a compassionate army doctor who comes to identify with the indigenous people he treats. The story starts off with the present and goes backwards to show how the doctor was arrested for treason and imprisoned. Intelligent and sensitive, highly recommended.

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