- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (Oct. 2 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670015644
- ISBN-13: 978-0670015641
- Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 2.9 x 17.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 544 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #641,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Human Body Hardcover – Oct 2 2014
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“The Human Body is a great novel of life in wartime: a chronicle of war's multifarious crimes against the body and soul, and a heartfelt meditation on how men, together and collectively, repair the burdens of their fate.”
—Joshua Ferris, author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
“With an extraordinarily keen eye and a pitch-perfect ear, Giordano has magnificently captured the surreal existence of the modern soldier. By turn poignant and gripping – when not downright hilarious – every page of The Human Body rings with an authenticity and appreciation of the absurd that very few novelists writing about men stumbling about the business of war have achieved. Very few indeed; think of O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato or Heller’s Catch-22, because Giordano is just that good.”
—Scott Anderson, author of Lawrence in Arabia
“Paolo Giordano has written his generation’s war novel. Tender, cruel, beautiful, heartless, a brilliant story of desire and youth and death in Afghanistan. Readers of Kevin Powers have been searching for another modern classic, and The Human Body is it.”
—Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells
“Giordano follows THE SOLITUDE OF PRIME NUMBERS with a stunning exploration of war. Giordano makes the tedium of combat fascinating with his well-drawn characters. The first page indicates that the platoon’s experience was particularly horrible... but the fact that the mission runs off the rails is almost secondary to the beauty, texture, and acuity with which Giordano captures the day-to-day routines of the soldiers, and their efforts to make sense of both their lives in Italy and their military assignment.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The Human Body is a memorable entry in the literature of the Afghan war, the characters crisply drawn and the writing full of telling details.”
“Despite the tragic events, this is a very entertaining novel, with the characters’ innate and passionate sense of the absurdity of their situation, and of life itself, evident in every scene. The fast-paced, present-tense narrative seems to have been translated accurately to capture the nuances of emotion and drama conveyed by the highly intelligent and perceptive Giordano.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Giordano’s (The Solitude of Prime Numbers, 2010) unorthodox Afghanistan war novel is short on action but rich in psychological insight.... As the title suggests, the book is less about military heroism than the devastating human impact of combat. Well-observed and compassionate, this is a memorable look at imperfect people in extreme circumstances.”—Kirkus
Selected praise for Paolo Giordano’s THE SOLITUDE OF PRIME NUMBERS:
“Mesmerizing . . . [Giordano] works with piercing subtlety. An exquisite rendering of what one might call feelings at the subatomic level.”
—The New York Times
“The story—the explanation, really—of how two people come to find solitude more comforting than companionship is the subtle work of Giordano’s haunting novel, a finely tuned machine powered by the perverse mechanics of need.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Seductive and unnerving.”
“The elegant and fiercely intelligent debut novel by 27-year-old physicist Paolo Giordano, The Solitude of Prime Numbers revolves around Mattia and Alice, friends since high school—‘twin primes, alone and lost, close but not close enough to really touch each other,’ wherein resides the seductive enchantment of this singular love story.”
“Giordano’s passionate evocation of being young and in despair will resonate strongly with readers.”
—Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Paolo Giordano is the author of the critically acclaimed international bestseller The Solitude of Prime Numbers, which has been translated into more than forty languages. He is the youngest person ever to win Italy’s prestigious literary award, the Premio Strega. Giordano has a PhD in particle physics and is now a full time writer. He lives in Italy.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
There's medical officer Egirto who has willfully exchanged the war zone at home for the war zone overseas. Marshal and troup leader Antonio Rene, a male prostitute who has just learned that he is to become a father. Corporate Marshal Roberto Ietri, a wet-behind-the-ears 20 year old virgin, for whom everything is new and interesting. Senior corporal Major Francesco Caderna, a brusque bully who singles out one unfortunate soldier for his cruel pranks. And there's First Corporal Major Angelo Torsu, who falls seriously ill after food poisoning and spends his spare time online, trying to connect to a virtual "sweetheart."
These are just some of the characters that populate The Human Body, and if they sound one-dimensional or stereotypical, that is far from the truth. Each is fleshed out with subtle brushstrokes and yet given his (or in a few cases, her) own individuality.
For readers looking for a "war book", with details of battle and wins and losses, they won't find it here. Although the background is Afghanistan, there is very little action depicted. As readers, we know from the prologue that there will be one ill-fated mission and that some will live and some will die. But even that engagement is narrated from the internal lives of the characters more than the action outside.
Ultimately, we begin to care greatly about these imperfect characters, placed in a heinous pattern of waiting, and the struggles they embody: what they've left behind, what they're experiencing, and what they are destined to endure. The war zone itself serves as a catalyst for helping each of these men - and women - realize who they are and the necessity of eventual transformation and connection.
Beautifully translated by Anne Milano Appel, the book is particularly strong in its details: for example, right before disaster, a teeming herd of red sheep overcomes the convoy. These images are powerful and disturbing. Heartrending, insightful and brimming with pathos, The Human Body is an outstanding character study.
This second novel has several layers and reads like a thriller. It is about the boredom of some 200 Italian troops serving in Afghanistan in a remote, hilltop FOB near Helmand province: poor food, bench-pressing, posturing and pestering, gaming, phoning home and making rare inspections of the village below, heavily armed but with plenty of sweets for the dirty, fly-ridden children. There is nothing to enjoy and no sense to what they are doing, pacifying Afghanistan from a hilltop.
When Lt. Egitto, the unit's medic and due to go on leave after six months duty, is phoned by his sister Marianna, their exchange of words and feelings prompts him to forego his leave. Another six months of duty lie ahead, which he is quite prepared to suffer with the secret supply of anti-depressants he has brought along. Why? For readers to find out.
This reader is stunned by how brilliantly PG has composed and written this book. His characters are superbly drawn and cast during and after Lt. Egitto's fateful second tour: naïve and gullible Ietri, Torsu and his dubious online girlfriend, Lt. Egitto's own vengeful and powerful ex-girlfriend or macho soldier Cederna, who added 2.000 euro worth of internet-procured extras to his basic kit/gear, and so on, all lost souls, right up to the ebullient, balls-scratching colonel in charge.
CNN is reporting high suicide rates among US veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 20 per day, perhaps 8.000 a year. This novel`s cast of characters feels that the Taliban follow their every move and inevitably, it comes to a dramatically-described engagement. In the novel's final part, PG sketches the psychological impact of the mission on some of them back in Italy.
Veterans from many countries who fought in Afghanistan and survived their tour(s)of duty intact in body and mind, will probably enjoy this book about this hapless Italian unit. Written with so much empathy and black humor, this novel may even have therapeutic value. Instantly re-readable and highly recommended.