It is universally accepted that life is full of coincidences, and I wish to share with you one such coincidence, a most insignificant one I expect you to say, but which happened to make me smile.
Shortly before Junying offered me the opportunity to read her new book –which by the way also depicts quite a few steaming sensual encounters, and instances of rather sizzling eroticism- I heard a joke alluding to the allegedly sensual and passionate nature of Italian nationals. It was delivered to me as a joke, I repeat, and it goes like this: one morning in Italy a radio presenter informs his listeners that according to a recent survey 50% of their citizens were cheating on their partners: “So if it’s not you, then it is your wife” he concluded most resolutely.
Coincidentally, as I said, I heard this joke about the same time I came to become acquainted to a fictional stranger, a very passionate driven woman called Pearl, the main character in Junying’s book Land of Hope, whose job as a police interpreter brings her more often than not in an uncomfortable close proximity to the criminal world.
I engaged -I must admit- rather tentatively in this exercise. My apprehension stemmed I guess from the fear that she might be some embodiment of flawless perfection and righteousness which would make all my own imperfections seem even heavier and more unforgivable in my own eyes. I am glad to say I was wrong and my fears were unfounded; pretty soon, after reading only a few pages I couldn’t help but warm up to Junying’s main female character.
At times Pearl feels crushed under suffocating doubts like all of us, she needs and asks for advice from trusted friends before making some decisions, and yes, Horror of Horrors she makes mistakes. Like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us she lives to regret some of her errors -heart wrenchingly so, especially when there is no turning back -the dice having had been irretrievably cast. Her subsequent happiness -if there is one to be had- depends on such errors being forgiven by those close to her. And how often did we ourselves pray/hoped most fervently that forgiveness would be bestowed upon us too, when we happened to make as they say a hash of things.
No, I did not feel patronised in any way by Pearl, on the contrary she was rendered more realistically human precisely because of her flaws, tormenting indecisions, hope against hope dreams of happiness.
As for the other characters in the book, all I can say is that once I started reading the book I certainly wanted to know what was going to happen to them next, so I felt compelled to carry on reading. There are a number of intertwined threads within the book, each of these threads following the lives of different sets of characters over shorter or longer periods of time.
Some of the minor characters are only sketched, which for this particular reader was a bonus, I for one was grateful to be allowed the liberty to fill in gaps in the portrayal of characters, the opportunity to put flesh on bones in accordance with my own views, opinions, in general on ideas derived from my own life experience. The author has definitely recognised the benefits of a minimalist approach, the fact that at times less is definitely more.
Finally I can only congratulate our friend Junying for her achievement in writing yet another book, and just to prove that I took on board her -as always delicate- words in respect of my (let’s say often misunderstood by others) sense of humour, I wish to reassure her that the joke at the beginning does indeed conform with the well established and worldwide esteemed high standards of the BBC, and it is well within the said boundaries (I did actually check) so there is no call to worry needlessly. On this rare occasion …
And finally-finally I wish Ms Kirk the greatest success, and hopefully she would have gathered enough material by now whilst away in holiday to start writing a new book soon.
(This Review was originally published on Smashwords - republication here with permission from the reviewer – Thanks, Laetitia )
Laetitia Murphy’s Bio: Studied English literature for 4 years at university, working as an interpreter/translator for a businessman brought me to UK, got married. Shortly afterwards i passed the relevant exams in UK to become a police and court interpreter here (got both DPSI in Law and the Met police test). Been doing this job for over 10 years, during which time I also did the Bar vocational course at City University in London, hence I’m a qualified but not practising Barrister, and a member of the Honorouble Society of Grays Inn. But frankly after working with criminals on a daily basis for 10 years I kind of had enough of them. My next job, I hope, will bring me in contact with a different kind of people. Nice ones. And that’s it. Reading is my one and only true friend who never deserted me and has been there for me 24/7.
Land of Hope (Tărâmul Speranţei)
Blurb in Romanian (Prezentare a cărţii în limba română)
În fiecare an milioane de imigranţi ilegali trec graniţele în căutarea unei vieţi îmbelşugate, fericite si uşoare pe Tărâmul Speranţei (Land of Hope). Unii reuşesc. Alţii suferă greutăţi de neimaginat.
Când Jack Gordon, Inspector în cadrul DIS (Departamentul pentru Infracţiuni Serioase) apelează la serviciile lui Pearl Zhang, o interpreta profesionistă de limba chineză, amândoi îşi reunesc forţele în lupta împotriva injustiţiei din lumea interlopă a criminalităţii internaţionale, a traficării de persoane şi a exploatării sexuale.
Pearl dă glas visurilor spulberate, traducând istorisiri ce îi parvin într-o formă necizelată, haotică, dar care au nuanţe multiple, ale celor care nu le pot relata ei înşişi. Pe măsură ce Pearl este prinsă tot mai mult în mrejele vieţii unor necunoscuţi, Jack devine o diversiune binevenită, complicată de faptul că şi ea şi el sunt căsătoriţi. Traseul plin de peripeţii al călătoriei lor transcontinentale este deviat abrupt atunci când Pearl ea insăşi se trezeşte amestecată în lumea sinistră a clienţilor ei, o lume plină de secrete, minciuni şi de o violenţă de nedescris- cu singura deosebire că de această dată ţinta acestei violenţe este chiar ea.
Poate ea să se bazeze pe Jack? Aflaţi din a treia şi ultima carte a trilogiei scrisă de Junying Kirk „Călătorie către Vest” („Journey to the West”)
Tradusă în limba română de M.L. Murphy
Original English Book Blurb:
When Jack Gordon, Inspector in the SCS (Serious Crime Squad) hires Pearl Zhang, a professional Chinese interpreter, they join forces to fight injustice in the corrupt underworld of international crime, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Pearl is the voice of broken dreams, translating raw, deranged, and colourful tales of those who cannot speak for themselves. As Pearl gets more and more tangled in the lives of strangers, Jack becomes a welcome diversion, complicated by the fact that both are married. Their trans-continental roller-coaster ride derails when Pearl tumbles into the sinister world of her clients, a world full of secrets, lies, and unspeakable violence – only this time, it’s directed at her.
Can she depend on Jack? Find out in this third and final book of Junying Kirk’s “Journey to the West” trilogy.
A Paperback version will hopefully be available at the end of 2012, in time for Christmas