"Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales" by Eleanor Bluestein is a book of 10 short stories set in a mythical country somewhere in the South-East of Asia. Although Ayama Na is a fictitious land, its characters and their surroundings are vibrantly alive. What the reader gathers quite early on in the book is that Ayama Na used to be a thriving country which was then taken over in a bloody coup. The new tyrants ensured the country became a cultural wasteland by putting to death as many artists, (dancers, playwrights, actors etc.) as they could find. The rest of the people were forcibly taken to labor camps where they toiled day and night in the fields or mines, eventually starving to death. Furthermore, the country was dotted with landmines making it virtually impossible for anyone to escape.
The stories in this book are set in modern-day Ayama Na. The nation is in the process of rebuilding itself emotionally and physically- artists are back at work, American tourists are arriving in the country in droves and the King and Queen have just given birth to an heir - all appears to be good, however, the country is still shackled by poverty, superstition, corruption, tyranny and machismo.
Through these 10 remarkable stories Eleanor B. - winner of the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction - has conjured up a wounded country populated by amputees begging in the streets, a pineapple farmer, obnoxious American tourists, an outspoken beauty queen, novice Buddhist monk, a one-legged prostitute with deep red hair and impoverished fisher-folk living in crude houseboats because they can't afford proper houses. Written with a rare sensitivity about ordinary people confronting the anguish of their past while trying to live meaningful lives in the 21st century, the stories in this volume weave a magical web of emotions around the reader. Bluestein is a captivating narrator often using prose so vivid it makes the land breathe...she also also possesses the gift of description and her wonderful use of colors, smells and sounds evoke the full flavor of life in Ayama Na.
In "Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales", Eleanor Bluestein has created for us a country that will not be easily forgotten. At times bewitching and enticing, at times unattractive and charmless, Ayama Na is a nation at a crossroad...which route will it follow? As I read, I was reminded of our visit to Cambodia last year..they are also a nation fighting to throw off the shackles of the past and learning to embrace modernity much to the angst of the traditionalists. I was intrigued enough to ask Eleanor Bluestein if she had Cambodia in mind when she developed Ayama Na...read her interview to see what she says!
**Giveaway** I have a copy here (kind courtesy the author) for one lucky reader- all you have to do is leave a comment and you'll be entered in the draw...good luck!
To order your copy from Small Press Distribution click here, or from Amazon click here
For a brief Q & A session with the author, please go here
Blog Tour Stops:
Wednesday, April 1st: The Bluestocking Society
Monday, April 6th: Bookstack
Wednesday, April 8th: Nerd’s Eye View
Friday, April 10th: Lotus Reads
Monday, April 13th: 8Asians
Wednesday, April 15th: 1979 Semi-finalist…
Friday, April 17th: Ramya’s Bookshelf
Monday, April 20th: Feminist Review
Thursday, April 23rd: Trish’s Reading Nook
Tuesday, April 28th: Medieval Bookworm
Wednesday, April 29th: Savvy Verse and Wit
For more reviews of this, and other fine books, visit TLC Book Tours
****** I want to congratulate Zibiliee,winner of the giveaway...thanks, all of you, for participating, stick around for there will be more! Zibilee please contact me privately with your mailing address, thank you!**********