A columnist questions his ability and himself.
A close of war looms over Harding’s (Painter of Silence, 2012, etc.) fourth atypical like a bulletproof fog. Added diffuse novella than novel, it’s told in a alluringly quiet accent evocative of D.H. Lawrence—simple, descriptive, air-conditioned on the surface, churning with affect below. Set in Vietnam and Japan and on a rural acreage in England, it takes on big issues in a thoughtful, advised manner. Jonathan, a freelance photographer, arrives by chopper at a baby Vietnamese boscage apple breadth a ablaze and bloody skirmish has aloof taken place. He sees a still, built-in soldier aptitude against a wall, his burglarize captivated up beeline in advanced of him, bound snaps a picture, then moves on. After demography added photographs, he hurries aback for his ride. Seeing the soldier afresh he walks appropriate up to him: “This account he knew he must have.” The accomplished book radiates about this moment. Afterward, he sells this photo. Now iconic, it’s on abounding annual covers and newspapers. He travels to Japan to escape notoriety. Here “no one will apperceive him.” He finds a position teaching English and campaign the breadth demography photographs. At the language school he meets the affable and welcoming, “small and jaunty” Kumiko. They become friends, again lovers. She takes him to appointment her grandparents. Her grandfather fought the British in Burma; Jonathan’s ancestor fought the Japanese in East Asia. Walking a Tokyo artery one day Jonathan sees another gaijin or foreigner. He knows it’s the soldier he photographed, a “man he didn’t want ever to accept met.” Italicized passages commenting on Jonathan’s activities and feelings, forth with adroit Susan Sontag–like ruminations on photography, eyewitness and subject, anamnesis and responsibility, announce abounding chapters, in aftereffect creating addition adventure within the story. With a atoning tenderness, Harding brings her understated story to a powerful, affecting end.
A haunting, attenuate analysis into circuitous and difficult matters.
A powerful novel about the memory of war, and how people bring that memory back to the world of peace, from Orange-prize shortlisted author Georgina Harding.
Dawn, mist clearing over the rice fields, a burning Vietnamese village, and a young war photographer gets the shot that might make his career. The image, of a staring soldier in the midst of mayhem, will become one of the great photographs of the war. But what Jonathan has seen in that village is more than he can bear, and he flees.
He drifts on to Japan, to lose himself in the vastness of Tokyo, where there are different kinds of photographs to be taken--pictures of crowds and subways and cherry blossoms. And innumerable pictures of Kumiko, the girl with whom he is no longer lost. But even here, in this alien city, his history catches up with him: the photograph and his responsibility in taking it, his responsibility as a witness to war, and as a witness to other events buried far deeper in his past.
The Gun Room is a powerful exploration of image and memory, and of the moral and emotional complexities of the experience of war.
The Gun Room
- BookThe Gun Room
- Author:Georgina Harding
- Publishing Date:2016-11-15
- Publisher:Bloomsbury USA
- Number Of pages:224