Weekly booktalk: Anna times two.

So last week I shared my plan for the weekly book talks with you, and this week I didn’t write one. Off to a great start, this is! I wanted to take the week to write it, think it over, rewrite, think it over again, but I couldn’t decide what book to choose. I didn’t want to pick an old book or a Dutch book and I wanted something original to say about the book. So I looked at my pile of books, eliminated all that didn’t fit these criteria and ended up with zero books to write about. In the end, I’ve decided to talk about the last book I read: ‘Anna’ by Niccolò Ammaniti, an Italian writer. The main reason I read this book was the title, my name is Anna as well and I like (pretty much) anything with my name.

Summer has ended, but the heat will not let up. Ash has covered everything. Weeds and wheat grow around the cars abandoned in the road. Anna and Astor live in the house behind the fence, surviving in a world stripped of adults. The rooms are piled high with rubbish. Their mother’s skeleton lies perfect on the bed. And every few days, Anna must head out beyond the fence for provisions and medicine. Each time she goes, she may never come back. (blurb, Google Books)

I ran into the book while waiting for my train, as I said I’m lame enough to like almost anything with my name so the title was a selling point for me. Besides that, I’ve read more books by Ammaniti and I really liked them. I’m definitely not disappointed!

What I love about Ammaniti, is that he manages to describe in great detail, like capturing the slowness of summer days, but without it being boring. He’s master at introducing people and making them feel real, multidimensional. For example, in this book Anna is both mature and responsible (she takes care of her brother, chooses to be safe over ‘wealth’) and very much a child (easily scared, manipulating her brother into listing to her), which make her understandable and likable. Even though sometimes she’s cruel and unfair, underneath it all she’s mostly very, very scared, and Ammaniti manages to show both sides at the same time.

Anna’s setting has some resemblance to ‘lord of the flies’, with the major difference of no hope. All the grown-ups have died from a virus and the kids (who know they’re going to die once they hit puberty) cling to every tiny bit of hope they have. Chaos ensured! This, again, is something Ammaniti manages to show beautifully. The kids aren’t necessarily just cruel but lost, scared and desperate for a cure. In their youth and desperation, they make up cures and legends. I don’t really remember that well what it was like to be a kid, but I think kids are likely to believe a lot, especially without adults helping them.

To end with a slight negative: I can’t stand thing staying unclarified and Ammaniti doesn’t tell what the virus was. But, since the whole book in from Anna’s point of view and she doesn’t find out, so neither do we.

Tips and pointers for next time? Let me know! I’ll be ever so grateful