Books

The story of a disappeared state (TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay)

I love Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing. I loved the way TIGANA started with such a moving & provocative prologue, which segued into a day in the life of a talented 19-year-old singer, who’d just been ripped apart (verbally) by the newest member of the troupe, an attractive red-maned young woman .

Naturally, things are not what they seem, and I loved meeting this cast of quirky characters, some of whom have unexpected nobility attached to them.

In his Author’s Note, Guy Gavriel Kay says that this novel is about memory, its importance and misuse. But what struck me was that it was about a disappeared state, a place that is wiped off the map so completelythat even when its old name is uttered, no-one can hear it. It reminded me of 19th-century Poland, which didn’t exist between 1795 and 1918. As the author notes, most insurrections are inspired by a loss of language and culture (think of the Irish, the Welsh, the Scots and the Basques.) Losing a name is a tragedy. It is not the mere loss of a proper noun, but a psychological assault on a person’s identity and culture, the probing knife that curdles ones self-respect. The emotional fallout can be vast, resulting in grief, rage, and everlasting bitterness.

And this is what this novel so beautifully delineates. Five stars.