Shining at the Bottom of the Sea
By Stephen Marche
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594489419, 256pp.)
Publication Date: August 2, 2007
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A virtuoso performance from an emerging new literary talent who crafts a vividly drawn history of an imaginary country.
In this stylistic tour de force, Stephen Marche creates the entire culture of a place called Sanjania-its national symbols, political movements, folk heroes, a group of writers dubbed "fictioneers," a national airline called Sanjair, and a rich literary history.
Sanjania is an island nation whose English-speaking citizens draw upon the English, American, Australian, and Canadian literary traditions. This brilliant story is an anthology, taking the reader from the rough and tumble pamphlets of 1870s Sanjania to the burgeoning Sanjanian nationalistic awareness in the 1930s literary journal, The Real Story, to the extraordinary longing of the writings of the Sanjanian Diaspora. These works develop into a Rashomon-like story, introducing us to illustrious Sanjanian figures such as the repentant prostitute Pigeon Blackhat and the magically talented couple Caesar and Endurance.
The result is a vibrant evocation of a country-from the birth pangs of its first settlers and their hardy vernacular to its revolutionary years and all the way to the present-all told in Stephen Marche's innovative and accomplished writing.