Shortlisted, Alistair MacLeod Award for Short Fiction, New Brunswick Book Award for Fiction, and Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
One of Canada's literary treasures, Mark Anthony Jarman returns with a book of moving and often funny tales of a man's quest for himself. A.S. Byatt says that his writing is "extraordinary, his stories gripping," and in this gorgeous new collection, Jarman delivers something new once again.
In Knife Party at the Hotel Europa, Jarman writes about losing and finding love, marriage and melancholy, the dislocation and redemptive power of travel in Italy's sensual summer.
A man travels to Italy to escape the memory of love lost, and a marriage ended. He passes through sun-drenched landscapes of cliffs and seaside paradises, while the corpses of refugees wash up on the beach; he parties with the young and beautiful Italians he meets on the train while a man bleeds to death in the hallway. A teenage thief prowls the roof of the tourist hotel at night; an embassy is bombed; holy statues come alive to roam in a gang stealing used restaurant grease.
He suffers the acute loneliness of one who has abandoned and been abandoned, and in this exquisite suffering, he finds how beautiful this life can be. In vivid, sensuous prose, Jarman's stories circle and overlap in surprising, weird, and wonderful ways. Tangents turn out to be crucial, allusions are powerful.
"Jarman's descriptions of Italy's managed chaos of ruins and tourist traps and crowded cities are witty, evocative and, when he turns his attention to the displaced peoples from Africa, the Middle East and the Baltic states living rough in the dirty streets, often quite moving."
"One of Canada's most accomplished prose stylists, with an affection for jazzy rhythms and oblique angles... the writing will be familiar to aficionados of the author's earlier work — the trilling sentences, the insouciant alliteration and assonance, the rococo metaphors, the sudden shifts in tone from light to dark, humour to startling violence."
"A book by Jarman is a bit like a concept album, the language arranged in musical and meaningful ways."
"... one of Canada's most accomplished prose stylists, with an affection for jazzy rhythms and oblique angles."
"In their bounce from Italy to Canada and back, these stories, so rich and funny and knowing, remind us that Jarman is not just one of our best stylists, but best writers. His sentences are cunning, like they have eyes that can see in the dark."
"This is the work of a short-story master in full control of his work: tone, voice, audience are all in hand. These stories are very much like musical variations on a theme. What if the violin line leads? What changes when the oboe takes charge? The answer? Everything. Bittersweet and beautiful. Knife Party at the Hotel Europa is a jewel of a collection. If it doesn't change you, your heart is too hard."
"Jarman pulls off some ferociously good writing."
"Mark Anthony Jarman's Knife Party at the Hotel Europa is an incendiary performance by a master storyteller. His prose is pyrotechnic bliss, the epitome of cool — adroit, eloquent, witty, hallucinatory, and sexy. He sets his stories in Rome, the blast zone of contemporary Europe, a glittering polyglot echo chamber of voices, packed with gypsies, druggies, expats, refugees, and tourists — something like A Room with a View meets Naked Lunch."
"Jarman's stories are exquisite and powerful, finding beauty even within pain. They demand to be read again and again."
"...as much travelogue, novel in hiding and prose poem as it is a collection of stand-alone stories. In fact, many of the stories do not stand alone. Rather, they lean on each other, interweave and inform each other, sharing a narrator, point of view, main characters and setting."
"Jarman’s prose has the momentum of travel, with vivid images and flashes of understanding about another way of life."
"In Knife Party at the Hotel Europa, love gone awry collides with Italy. From the warm, embracing glow of Rome's walls to a beach party on the wrong side of a military base, a broken heart is no match for Jarman's prose, which flies from all sides like jets in a dogfight, riotous and stunningly talented."
"Everywhere, there is exacting, original, exciting language, all of which propels the reader through what initially appears to be the most pedestrian of themes — a mid-life crisis."
"Nothing, no description, no summary can prepare you for the book itself. ... Knife Party at Hotel Europa is fierce and beautiful, one of the most stunning books I’ve read in a long time."