The Sparrow

Mary Doria Russell
The Sparrow Cover

The Sparrow


I finished The Sparrow last night.

Oh, my God.

The climax of this novel is as powerful as any I can think of. It's disturbing, horrifying, appalling, unsettling - I can't think of the right word.

It's not perfect. The writing sometimes gives the impression of being uneven, but in hindsight I can't really find fault with it. As a non-religious reader, the Jesuit arcanity sometimes left me nonplussed, but in the end, I can't say that it was overdone. With all the hints of atrocities, I knew something awful is coming, but it took me completely off guard.

Mary Doria Russell's afterword, written 20 years after the book was published, is interesting. She is an anthropologist. I've always felt that Ursula K Le Guin, a favorite author, writes anthropological fiction. Russell's prose isn't as Steinbeckianly [sorry] satisfying as Le Guin's, but it's good and certainly readable. Her cultural fiction is as full and intricate as Le Guin's.

I expect that I will be reading the sequel.