Zou Lei, orphan of the desert, migrates to work in America and finds herself slaving in New York's kitchens. She falls in love with a young man whose heart has been broken in another desert. A new life may be possible if together they can survive homelessness, lockup, and the young man's nightmares, which may be more prophecy than madness.
©2014 Atticus Lish (P)2015 Audible Inc.
“Dizzying in its ambition and exhilarating in its triumph." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Preparation for the Next Life isn’t just the best novel I’ve read this year, it may be the best novel I’ve read, ever. I’ve seen the book appearing on quite a few 'best of' lists recently—well deserved. And I am now a believer: this book should be in the conversation for a national prize." (Publishers Weekly, Best of 2014)
"Perhaps the finest and most unsentimental love story of the new decade." (The New York Times)
What a novel. The writing is fresh and unique, and its spare language reminded me of Hemingway. The author made me deeply care about these two strong characters, and I stopped what I was doing to finish listening to their story. I had no idea how it would end, and kept guessing as the tension slowly, carefully built to a climax. This is a book I will remember for a long time -- a rich story full of the sights, sounds and smells of New York, at times reminding me of Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" in its evocation of racial tension in the US melting pot. Most of all, these are two characters who, while they couldn't be more different from me, I could easily relate to, as their feelings of hope, despair, grief, and triumph reach to the very core of human experience. I am sure this will be made into a movie, but I doubt any movie could be as good as the book. Wonderful narration as well!
This was one of the best books I have heard....ever. the reader's odd style aided in the story telling so much. I just loved this book, even though it was very depressing and sad. A look in to a apart of American life I have never heard about before.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Sometimes you see a house in a magazine that makes you stop and stare. It's true to itself down to the finest detail - a real architectural feat. Even though you may not love the style, you admire the craftsmanship and the level of precision and craftsmanship that went into creating it. That is precisely how I would describe this book.
It's covers some tough topics - like immigration and PTSD - just for starters. That's not new. What's new is the actual writing style. It's SO unique. There's a spareness to it that feels like everything has been boiled down to its most basic elements. The sights and sounds just come at you and it's up to you to interpret them. The way it's written makes you feel like you're seeing it for yourself and deciding what has emotional value.
This book gave me an understanding of a life I will never experience. I know it's been described as a love story, but I just didn't see it that way. For me, it was a book of survival and hope.
I really wondered about the narrator during the first few minutes. He sounds like an automaton. Then I understood it. He delivered this exactly the way it was written. Great choice in the end.
Though I can't say I loved this book - it made me too uncomfortable for that - I really admire the achievement. It is stunning. I think I'll just stop and stare a while.
Life's good when I am listening to a great book.
This novel poetically exposes the harsh reality confronted by illegal immigrants to the U.S.A. while also exposing and exploring the difficulties faced by veterans returning from the grizzly days of war in Iraq. There is no sugar coating in this novel. I was drawn into the life of Skinner (the young male veteran) and into the life of Zou (the Chinese illegal immigrant). The author beautifully and painfully awakens the reader to the harsh and real problems facing both of these population groups. I admired Zou for her dogged determination to stay strong and to love to the best of her ability and I suffered for both her and Skinner. The novel was difficult for me to get through due to the harsh reality and painful subjects that it explores but that's life, isn't it? This isn't a "beach read". It is a beautifully written and perfectly narrated novel which opens the readers' eyes to the tragic difficulties faced by some of the people that we walk past every day. There is hope and there is great pain in this novel so don't read this unless you are ready to walk a few feet (not even a few miles) in the shoes of two young and heroic young adults.
Painfully detailed descriptions brought clear images of places & states of mind completely foreign to me. I felt them and saw them in my mind as I devoured Lish's superb writing. They made my soul ache but a type of justice prevailed at the end. How many other vets of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are abandoned on our streets, along with those immigrants escaping from persecution in their home countries?
At first, I didn't like the way everything was going, but after an hour of listening I really started enjoying the details of their story. I finished the whole book in three days.
You won't regret buying it.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
I only hope that my review can do this book justice. It is a rare occurrence that I am so affected by a book that it keeps popping up in my mind again and again after I have finished. The book was so vivid for me that I feel as if I lived it along with the two main protagonists. There is something about the writing style, the short, simple, and choppy sentences, that fits the characters perfectly; it lifted the story way above any possibility of ordinary-ness. It is very descriptive, in that we see what the characters see, feel, hear, and even taste along with them. For some, this style of descriptiveness makes the story too slow moving or maybe even boring. I am sorry for those that feel that way, as they will not experience the story as I did, totally compelling and interesting. As I described in another of my reviews, it is sort of like being shrunken and riding along in the character's shirt pocket as an observer.
PftNL has been described as a love story. That is definitely not how I would describe this novel. It is much more than a love story and certainly does not fall into the romance genre, nor godforbid, chicklit. This book is so much more than a love story. It is the tale of two people, Zou Lei (Zoh-lay), a Chinese Muslim undocumented immigrant and Skinner, a 23-year-old male that has recently returned from the Iraq war and is suffering from severe PTSD. Both of them are struggling to survive at the most basic levels at the margins of society in New York City.
In reading other reviews, it seems that you are either blown away by this book or you really dislike it. You may not like it if you prefer a more action-oriented story or you are disturbed by violence (there is one short but very violent scene in the book which really disturbed me.) You certainly will not like this novel if you are looking for some joy in a story. There is none here.
I was very on edge toward the end of the story and am happy to say, my worst nightmare did not happen. I feel that the ending was satisfactory, believable, and fitting.
As for the author, I scratch my head and wonder how a man who describes himself as coming from "huge privilege" could be able to capture the seamy side of life and living at the margins of society so impeccably. The narrator does this book justice, doing an expert job with both main characters. I look forward to hearing more from both of them in the near future.
Excellent writing; a riveting story that is visual, emotional and instructive. Lish brings the reader inside every characters head in a masterful way. Deserves every bit of praise he and the book have received.
Say something about yourself!
Life, Love, Reality
Both Zou Lei and Skinner.
I really liked the Epilogue, but there were many moments that were very special.
I wouldn't rename it.
A beautiful and sad story of a Chinese illegal immigrant and an American Ex-Army man who meet in New York City. This is a story you will never forget. Incredible! A must read!
By the way, the narrator was excellent. The way he spoke different languages, dialects and accents was amazing!! Bravo, Robertson Dean!
In our modern time tragic love stories are seldom written, usually they are comic, love is shallow and only sentimental innocents would attempt to write a modern Romeo and Juliet. I have often asked myself what is forbidden now? What lines are there that can't be crossed when it comes to love so that all American love stories seeM to be more about American narcissistic self love, that only shows us being duped by it. Atticus Lish pinged my heart, and put me on a road with two lost and lonesome lovers who see the U.S. As a vast and alien landscape. It is a good story.
It is about a damaged war veteran and a lonely Asian immigrant, which reveals a world in the U.S. that I brush against but never penetrate. It brought me to see America from a different angle.
"Not too impressed"
I found the story jumped about quite a bit which made it difficult for me to listen to. This is only my opinion, this book has had raving reviews. However I urge you to try it, I'm sure you would enjoy it more than me. I just prefer to be honest and not just chase 'likes' on my reviews to give you the clearest picture possible before purchasing.
"A bleak but powerful story"
I found this book very powerful. The attention to detail is incredible and the story it self sad but worth a read. To be honest though, I found the narrator a bit dull and his accents were at times unfortunate or didnt's seem to fit the character. I also think that becasue it jumps around a lot I wish that I would have read it in print to be able to go back and read again what happened which is more difficult with an audiobook.
"Bleak story of striving against a bad hand"
Maybe shouldn't have listened through this one just before my son & his wife heads for a spell of work in New York. Frightening account of an illegal immigrant and a war shocked US soldier, their tough love, their survival struggle in precarious underworld lives, the claws of the concrete city around them.
Descriptions are vivid lists, long observations of dirt and destitution. They fight, will they win? It's like reading Grand Theft Auto from a book, it is very real. I couldn't stop listening but I'm glad it's over.
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