INTERESTING BIBLICAL STORY, SET IN THE AMAZON, September 19, 2004
Hatoum is a new star in Brazilian literature and this is only his second book. The background of this novel is the destruction of a Lebanese family living in the port city of Manaus, caused by the hatred between two twin brothers (hence the title) and the missplaced love of the mother and sister. The destruction of the family is followed by the demise of the physical house as well. The family decays with the city, and when the city starts to revive, the family is disassembled to start a new life with the four young members (the brothers, sister, and son of the maid).
Though the story seems to focus on the disputes of the brothers, it is actually narrated by a third person who we only get to know deep into the book, the son of the maid. His main issue is finding out who his father is, and he gets little glimpses of it through stories told him, mainly by Halim, the father of the house, and the maid.
The book is captivating and suspenseful. Hatoum is a master in the art of showing how things are falling apart, as he simultaneously makes the family, the house and the city degerate. He is a worthy member of the degeneration club, that includes Achebe, Poe and Conrad. Highly recommended, a good short page turner.