I found a depth and profundity in this book that I was not expecting, to be honest. In fact, I’m going to call this book a novel, because it deserves it. There, I said it. This book is a novel. N-O-V-E-L.
And, to be frank, I found this novel to be rather brilliant, especially in comparison to many of the bestseller literary fiction out there nowadays. It gave me some of the same feelings I’ve had when reading authors who dabble in magical realism, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Milan Kundera. Although this story doesn’t contain those same elements, there’s something about its broad scope, its epic scale and its dizzying exploration of single moments in one life and how they relate to the larger whole of humanity. For lack of a better word, like the work of those other authors, this book is mind-expanding because of how it deftly narrows then broadens its focus.
And the way time is stretched and compressed in the story...this is what I loved most, I think!
Its experiment with time wasn’t just about non-linear storytelling, which is a dime a dozen with commercial thrillers these days. It was the way in which it stretched forward for decades within the span of one sentence, giving you a glimpse into the death of a character’s young son years from now, for instance, before snapping right back into the ‘present,’ in which the character is fully unaware of the fate of his son. It jumped around between past, present and future so often that as a reader, I kept remembering that time is a human construct that doesn’t actually exist, at least - perhaps - not in the way we think of it. And that humanity continues to repeat the same things, over and over again. The novel didn’t allow you to get absorbed in one character or one particular mystery. It forced you to be pulled back over and over again and see the larger picture. The larger truths about the human experience. The focus expanded in and out, in and out, in and out…..
I’ve read some reviews in which readers were not fans of this book, and I can understand your disappointment if you go into it hoping for a commercial thriller. This book is NOT a that. It is only one part mystery and about four parts meditations on life.
I’ll be thinking about it, and processing it, for days...which is exactly the type of art I love :)
Hailed as a “marvel of a book” and “brilliant and unflinching,” Alexis Schaitkin’s stunning debut, Saint X, is a haunting portrait of grief, obsession, and the bond between two sisters never truly given the chance to know one another.
Thank big thank you to Celadon Books and Macmillan Publishers for the ARC!
This hits the shelves tomorrow (Feb 18)!