June 09, 2006

'My Invented Country'


Memory and nostalgia can create beauty unimagined and unlived, and Isabel Allende’s novel ‘My Invented Country’ does that and more. She takes you into her throes of reminiscence and creates picturesque landscapes and vivid characters woven together in a memorable journey into her Chilean past.

The novel is a memoir of Isabel who is sharing her nostalgia about Chile, her homeland, and creating her very own Chile, her ‘invented country’, in her own mind; one that she left so many years ago to escape the atrocities of the Pinochet regime. The exposition is direct yet haunting and sets the reader on a voyage he cannot want out of. He comes out of it wondering about his own invented country; whether he has one and if it shares any commonalities with Isabel’s. The wondering doesn’t stop at that personal level. The reader, especially one who is an immigrant, wonders whether every immigrant carries an invented country in his heart, and if he does, then in fact, there are so many of us who carry this beautiful burden. Why do we all carry it? Why is it beautiful that we hold it so dear, and never want to part with it? Yet, why is it a burden that relegates itself to the mind? Does this burden, this invented country, ever disappear, get replaced, or suffer ruin? Why are the memories of a lost home so tantalizing? Is it because as exiles or immigrants we never really find our promised land, or even if we do, it always falls short of the home we left behind.

‘My Invented Country’ is a delightful read that satiates the senses through some colorful and frisky language. Its reminiscing tone soothes, yet, once you close the book, there's a spring of turbulent introspection let loose within the mind of the reader.

14 comments:

EXSENO said...

Perhaps not an invented country. But don't we all reminisce. For me it is the state in which I grew up. Even though we went on vacations and I loved doing that, I always new that I never wanted to live anywhere else. I think about growing up there often.

Things are always prettier, happier, funnier or sadder but so vivid.
Reminiscing, it's a good thing.
I enjoy listening to other people reminisce.
I think I would like this book.

starry nights said...

Thanks for the review I think I would like to read it. sometimes we do invent places and imagine things.

nandi23 said...

he he, you make it sound so delectable its a must on my 'to read' list now!

Anu said...

You have written about two books that I keep coming across but havnt picked up to read. After reading your reviews, I think I should, finally.

D said...

Good Lords!...you quite a book reviewer dude. May be if i get my hands on this one, I will read. Why don'y you take up some popular classics. I hope you understand what I mean, like Catch-22 and so on...lol

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

I wish I could read these great books you often blog about.

karmic_jay said...

Another book to read. I still have to read the last 2 I bought.
- Al Gore's An Incovenient Truth
- Eroc Boehlert's Lapdogs

Invincible said...

This review must be as vivid as the novel itself!

I will look up this book once i get a little time in my hands.
i liked this concept of 'invented country'.

When you move from a place to another even inside ur own country, the trailes dont fade away that easily. Ur school/college/friends, are difficult to part emotionally.

Reminiscence n nostalgia happen to be my favorite past times :)

Vijayeta said...

Fabulous review! The non-condescending tone makes all the difference. I hate most book and film reviews for the superior tone they adopt for no reason at all. Have made note to pick up the book ASAP!
:)

Tiesha's Place said...

I think I'll make a trip to the book store. Thanks for the review.

Khakra said...

tough questions. when a place you spend so much time is uprooted, it adds more mystique to what those days were like. certainly must not have been easy for her to drop everything and start anew. it's like looking for pieces to patch up the past life. i can very well identify with that!

Starkindler said...

We all need lebensraum; insofar as inventing a country is concerned, one doesn't need to be an immigrant or to have 'lost' one's country so literally to do so. One can be in search of one's spot in the country one IS living in, where one needs to find one's identity and place and raison d'etre and raison de habitue. Ergo, one invents a country for oneself whenever one feels dissatisfaction, nostalgia or just the need to be someplace better.

Id it is said...

starkindler,
Great to hear from you!
The 'country' in Isabel Allende's novel "My Invented Country" is not a make believe; it does really exist. In her case it's Chile; for another immigrant it may be China, and to yet another it might be India. These countries are no figments of imagination. However, they get embellished because they are 'invented' and colored by the nostalgia and reminiscence of the one who conjures them. These 'invented counties' are different from those imagined by non immigrants who 'dream' their ideal place/country/'lebensraum'; there is no nostalgia there.

Monica said...

It doesn't have to be another country. It can be another part of the same country; another way of life.