This title was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award
Trezza Azzopardi was born in Cardiff and lives in Norwich. She is the author of The Song House, Remember Me, and The Hiding Place, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2000.
Frank McCourt and Mary Karr may have written definitive accounts of grim childhoods, but British first novelist Azzopardi can stand on her own as a writer of remarkable sensibility and literary prowess. A seedy dockside community in 1960s Wales is the apt setting for this memoir-like narrative. Physical and emotional abuse haunts every detail in Azzopardi's account of a poor Maltese immigrant family's misery. Dolores, the youngest of the six Gauci daughters, narrates the story of her father Frankie's arrival in Tiger Bay, Wales, his marriage to young waitress Mary Jessop, the birth of their children and the family's eventual disintegration as a result of Frankie's gambling and jealousy. In Part One, Dolores's five-year-old narration is emotionless as she relates the awful events that shape their lives. Hers is the perfect voice to unearth the family's confusing and shady secrets; because the child doesn't quite understand the emotional impact of situations, she questions and observes with detachment. On the day Dolores is born, Frankie gambles away their house and caf. When she is just a month old, Dolores loses her left hand in a fire. Frankie's jealousy and gambling debts lead him to sell one of his daughters, Marina, to gangster Joe Medora, the man he believes is her father. Azzopardi chills the blood with gruesome details as Frankie skins Dolores's pet rabbit for older sister Celesta's wedding dinner. Eventually, Frankie abandons the family to join Medora, and Mary, losing her grip on reality, also loses the remaining children to public care. Dolores's stoic perspective continues into adulthood, as, in Part Two, the sisters return to Tiger Bay for Mary's funeral. Although the narrative line can confuse as the story shifts from present to past, readers will be riveted by this brilliant psychological prose poem of a family united only in helplessness and despair, in a poverty-stricken corner of the world rarely evoked in fiction. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
A brilliant debut novel shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize set in the Maltese community of Tiger Bay in Cardiff. Dolores, the narrator, tells the story of her childhood and her compulsive gambler father who loses everything to the head of the Maltese Mafia. His gambling leads to a fire that disfigures her and the story flits between past and present as Dolores reflects on her childhood and the lives that her father created for himself and his children.
Growing up battered in the Maltese immigrant community of Cardiff, Wales, Azzopardi's home town. This debut is a sensation, having been sold to 11 publishers worldwide. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.