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Asylum    by André Alexis order for
by André Alexis
Order:  USA  Can
McClelland & Stewart, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Michael Graves

Asylum is a book where the characters are grander than the story. Marvellously crafted and full of human insight, it covers a number of individuals who are all somehow linked. But the strength of the novel lies in probing the choices people make, their silences and interactions.

The novel takes place in Ottawa, Canada against the political backdrop of the Mulroney years where a number of the characters work in the political sphere. Despite its context, this is not a novel about politics but rather of friendships won and lost, loyalties and inner conflicts. The plot line and underlying stories are gripping, fun and splendid reading. However, as the novel emphasizes character development the storied events are created to display the soul of the characters.

The narrative is told by a peripheral observer, who after writing his observations proclaims 'As I reread these pages, filled with yearnings, losses, bereavement, and changes of fortune, it seems to me I have recreated the shuttle and shunt of various lives, and, in so doing, I have inadvertently described my own soul.' Philosophical and thought proving, Asylum is an intelligent piece of work.

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