Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yesterday I started reading something that captures a couple of my interests at the same time.

The book is the new "Island of the World" by Michael D. O'brien, possibly my favourite Catholic author. The book is set in the Balkans, starting around the time of WWII.

I admit to reading with a little scepticism. O'brien is known for his attention to detail. Several years ago, I loaned another O'brien book, "Father Elijah" to a priest friend who admired the book's description of the Vatican. The priest said that O'brien must have actually been there.

The setting of the book is the Balkans, which is about as complicated as I imagine a setting to be!

Dh worked in the Balkans for a year. So did ds. I was over there for three months. It is a beautiful, fascinating area, with an amazingly complex history and culture.

When I told dh I was reading "Island" he commented that the book would have to mention slivovic (a homemade alcoholic substance which is ubiquitous in the Balkans). Less than 100 pages into the book, there is was!

Michael O'brien is an unapologetic Catholic. His books are full of Catholicism, both subtle and overt. One cannot read them without sensing how integral his faith is to his work.

I am curious to see how the history of the Balkans is managed in this novel. Before we went over, I was told that "there were no good guys". I had trouble believing that, but after my time there, I was beginning to think it was correct.

Lately, we have been looking at history from a Catholic perspective and seeing just how it can be manipulated without anyone actually lying! I have no reason to believe that what little I know of the Balkans has not been manipulated.

I will be some time reading this large book. I will report when I am done.

God Bless