First of all I won this book in a competition held by this rather fine blog http://theasylum.wordpress.com/ (for some strange reason the hyperlink button is not working here) so I thought it would be prudent enough to review the book.
One thing I’ve been obsessing about ever since I hit my 30th year is how my perceptions have changed. If I won this book ten years ago I would have chucked it there and continue ploughing through my Vonnegut and Bukowski novels. However, now I read ‘Swallowing the Sun’ and furthermore I liked it.
Martin Waring is clearly a man with issues. Due to his rigid and frightening childhood he has a cloistered view of life (furthermore punctuated by the fact that Martin works in a museum). His family, with the exception of his overweight son, Tom are in the peak of their lives. His daughter Rachel is an A student and his wife, Alison does a good job in keeping the family as a unit.
That is until, Martin has a one night (or to be precise afternoon) stand and then a serious event happens which makes him have to re-asses his past, present and future. This takes him on a small journey to purge himself from every thing which has held him back.
Park is a very delicate writer, whereas any other hack would have focused on the depressing aspects of the book, but here it’s more on Martin and his family’s way of dealing with their drastically altered life. There is great subtely and allegorical signs pop up now and then (the title refers to the way the Egyptians believed that the sun was swallowed). This is clearly no kitchen sink drama but a look into values and mores. In fact if this if there is any talk of ‘Swallowing the Sun’ being adapted into a film I can only imagine Ken Loach (maybe Shane Meadows) directing it.
My only qualm is that I felt that some events towards the end of the book are not that clearly linked and more episodic in feel, which makes the last third feel rushed but this is a small quibble for it did not hinder my enjoyment. This was my first Park novel and I will definitely check out more in the future (or when I finish this 1001 task of mine)