Review Blog

Nov 29 2017

Atlantic Black by A. S. Patric

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Transit Lounge Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9780995409828
(Age: Adult - older adolescents) Highly recommended. This is a tale of resounding blackness, as a young woman, Katerina Klova travels with her mother on a passenger liner taking them from South America to Europe. This trip, moving north on the Atlantic Ocean, has been taken because the father, a former Ambassador in a South American country, has fled his post, it seems, and is living in Paris.
Embarassed, deeply shamed, and furious, the mother succumbs to an action of terrible violence on herself, while her daughter, ignored by her mother, embarrassed, confused and deeply fearful for their future, can find no-one to whom she can bare her soul. The boat is, as we know, heading into the coming war, carrying passengers temporarily sharing a life that will change drastically when they arrive at their destination, and is like a small world of its own that represents the last gasp of a world that will be broken in a manner not previously contemplated. The passengers are fearful but unaware of the coming years of violence and untold deaths.
Patric has created a vivid narrative through which he explores violence, families in despair, and the shattering knowledge that we have of the reality of the actual war. Through his characters, storyline and the depiction of a world on the cusp of enormous change, his 'black' world is so finely drawn that we feel the events, the fear and the understanding of travelling to a world that is collapsing. In the temporary safety of their ship, in the black night of this enormous ocean, in the nefarious deeds that occur, in the withdrawing of love and protection from her daughter, by a shamed and furious mother, and in the brother's absence, we enter this small world for a brief time and are drawn deeply into the unreality facing those onboard, who are desperately trying to ignore work out how to face the disturbing events that have begun.
In his brilliant depiction of humanity facing an incomprehensible future, with the boat floating in a world that they are beginning to understand as no longer predictable, and fearful of violence, Patric's ship represents fear, anger, and terrible changes that will occur in the years to follow. We bring out knowledge of the hatred and despair that we recognize will occur in the dark night of those years where millions of lives are destroyed, people are slaughtered, abandoned, lost and displaced. It is a gripping and deeply unsettling novel, and highly recommended for adults and older adolescents who have learned of the many events, those 'black' times and that slaughter of human beings. It is for those who are prepared to acknowledge, and to consider, what humans are capable of doing through hatred and fear.
Elizabeth Bondar

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