Friday, June 15, 2012

The Antagonist by Lynn Coady

The Antagonist by Edmonton author Lynn Coady was discussed at one of my book groups earlier this week. We were nearly unanimous in the sentiment that we would not have read the book if not for book group. Which is one of the reasons that most of us are in this group -- to stretch our reading horizons. And everyone said they were glad to have read this dark, literary, character-based novel. Our conversation was lively from the start, as we debated who could be the antagonist of the title.

Rank -- Gordon Rankin -- is as initially unpleasant as his nickname suggests. Over the course of the novel, the reason for Rank's anger, guilt and self-hatred is related through his one-sided email correspondence with an old friend from his university days. It doesn't take long to see past Rank's vulgar language and big brute persona to the troubled man within. Readers are taken on Rank's existential journey as he comes to terms with past events that he has avoided for too long.

Readalike: It is set in Lebanon rather than Canada, but De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage has a similar gritty feel with a focus on character.

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