Picks and Pans Review: Oxygen
On her deathbed in rural England, Alice Valentine is nearly out of strength, but the clan of underachieving relatives gathering around her isn't doing much better. Their story alternates with chapters recounting the exploits of an exiled Hungarian playwright whose work is being translated by Alec, the self-described "ineffectual" son.
Sounds like a handful, but it's not. Elegantly written, this finalist for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize is a satire on American self-obsession (Alice's other son, a Californian, is a tennis pro turned porn star), an exhilarating journey through personal histories and a knowing glimpse at the ways we hold ourselves responsible for saving the people we love. (Harcourt, $24)
Bottom Line: Fresh air
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