(US, 1963– )
Bel Canto (2001, winner of 2002 Orange Prize) is hostage drama at its best. Revolutionaries kidnap important party goers, including an internationally famous opera singer, in the home of the vice-president of a poor Latin American country. Patchett engages us in the plight of both kidnappers and their victims, and draws a love story out of a nightmarish situation. The pace ranges from sudden explosions of brutality, to a sense of the endlessness of incarcerated time, to radiant moments of empathy and love. The Magician's Assistant (1997) tells the story of Sabine after the sudden death of the gay magician she has loved for twenty years. Living in Los Angeles, he had told her he had no family, but now his mother and sisters appear requesting Sabine to move to frozen Nebraska and help them. Love, dreams, and magic are at the heart of this well-crafted novel.
Anne Tyler, Thomas Keneally (Flying Hero Class) JR