Tropic of Orange

Tropic of Orange
By Karen Tei Yamashita

Hmmm… how do I describe this book?

This is the story of Rafaela, Gabriel, Emi, Arch Angel, Buzzworm, Manzanar, Bobby, and a bunch of other people who are in the midst of an apocalypse- an apocalypse of ideas and complacency. There are oranges, maps, layers, lines, music, magical realism, addiction, culture, ethnicity, smuggling, babies’ organs, homeless people, radio, palm trees, death, cyborgs… I mean, it sounds completely ridiculous.

But, somehow, it isn’t.

This book is beautifully written and plays out like a complicated song… a song I am not sure I totally understand, but I definitely enjoyed listening to.

This book is silly, sad, gorgeous, hideous, satirical, and painfully real.

It is not for everyone… in fact, I’m not entirely certain that it is for me either. Have you ever seen a movie and enjoyed the experience of watching, but left the theater unsure of whether or not you actually liked it? That’s how I feel. I usually need some time to process and then I watch it again after a few months or so (or years, depending).

A revisit to this book in a couple years will clarify my confusion and maybe I will re-post then to confirm the final outcome.

All I can say for sure is this: I enjoyed the process, I am definitely not sure I got everything (as I became aware of in class when some classmates’ interpretations were miles away from my own- so who was more wrong is a mystery to me), and, completely against the logic of the narrative, it made me really hungry for oranges.

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