The Ventriloquist’s Tale

“The Ventriloquist’s Tale” by Pauline Melville (Guyana)


Readers described the book as interesting, fascinating and beautifully written. They found it easy to get into and felt that it broached serious topics in a light manner. They liked the parallels between the past and the present, between the modern and primitive worlds, and liked the historical context and insights into the Amerindian culture and life. Readers loved the descriptions of the settings, saying that it gave them a real sense of place. On the other hand, most didn’t warm to any of the characters finding some stereotypical and others not developed enough. They would have loved a collection of short stories, one on each of the characters, to get to know them better! Some readers were confused about the connection between the prologue and epilogue where we meet the narrator, and the rest of the story. They couldn’t quite see the point and felt the book wouldn’t lose anything without them. However, others found the narrator both hilarious and intriguing, and they enjoyed the glimpses of him in the book wondering about which character he might be. Overall, it averaged an 8.8 out of 10.


Winner of the 1997 Whitbread First Novel Award

The whole purpose of magic is the fulfillment and intensification of desire, claims the ventriloquist-narrator as he tells his stories of love and catastrophe. The novel is a parable of miscegenation and racial exclusiveness, of nature defying culture and of the rebellious nature of love… Read more

Nicola’s Book Club reading list

Season 19 (Oct 2015 – Jun 2016)
“The Lazarus Project” by Aleksandar Hemon (Bosnia-Hercegovina)
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison (U.S.)
“In the Country of Men” by Hisham Matar (Libya)
“The Ventriloquist’s Tale” by Pauline Melville (Guyana)
“The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan (Australia) *

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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