The Other Side of the Mountain

Patty Osborne

The Orange Grove by Larry Tremblay, translated by Sheila Fischman (Biblioasis), is dry and sparse and heartbreaking, much like the unnamed country in which it takes place. Start with nine-year-old twin boys whose grandparents are killed by a bomb from the other side of the mountain, add a manipulative leader from the next village who is steeped in the culture of revenge, put them together with the myth of “the other” and a belt of explosives and you soon realize that you are slowing down your reading pace in order to avoid what seems to be the inevitable ending. “Think of Paradise” and “You have been chosen by God,” says the village leader, using rhetoric that contrasts strongly with the quiet domesticity of the family’s life portrayed so well in the strong, unadorned writing. As the sadness builds, so does a feeling of powerlessness: a pattern has been set and the characters must play their parts, although the brothers do manage one act of autonomy. We are spared the gory details, which occur out of sight, on the other side of the mountain, but the story and the feelings it invoked stayed in my mind and heart for a long time after I closed the book. This is a great addition to the Biblioasis International Translation Series.

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