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The Caprices

The Caprices by Sabina Murray
7 reviews (2002) (208p)
PEN/Faulkner Award Winner

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Book Description
From an acclaimed young author of Filipino background comes this history told through individual lives. The Caprices revolves around the Pacific Campaign of World War II. In the wreckage of bombed cities and overcrowded prison camps, there were no winners and no conquerors, and no nation truly triumphed.
Set in Southeast Asia, Australia, and the United States, these stories bring to life ordinary people who must rely on extraordinary measures of faith and imagination. In "Order of Precedence," an Indian officer starving to death in a prison camp remembers playing polo during his days in India. In "Folly," the last days of Amelia Earhart are imagined as the Japanese prepare for war. In "Colossus," an American veteran in his eighties recalls the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and the infamous death march of 1941.
With lyrical prose and searing insight, Sabina Murray brings to light a complex cast of characters. Eloquent, artful, and brimming with raw emotion, these tales capture the gross injustices of war as well as the consequences of survival and the memories that follow. In stories that tell as much about the fluid nature of time as they do about the ghosts that haunt survivors, Sabina Murray establishes herself as a passionate and wise voice. Review
With none of the nostalgia that mars so many books and movies about World War II, Sabina Murray's short story collection The Caprices covers the unfamiliar territory of the Pacific Campaign--Malaysia, the Philippines, New Guinea--and the all-too-familiar territory of human suffering. Most of Murray's characters are victims of circumstance. In the title story, a once-wealthy family lives in the shell of its grand house in Manila, guarding a demented young girl named Trinidad and trying not to attract the attention of the Japanese soldiers who have occupied the town. In "Order of Precedence," a young Indian officer in the British Army encounters his former commander at the prisoner-of-war camp where they have both been detained. Lieutenant Gillen is starving and diseased, but he will live; Major Berystede is dying. Once, in recognition of the younger man's polo skills, Berystede had proposed him for admission to the whites-only Officers Club. Now, through his parched lips, Berystede tells Gillen: "I finally found a club that would take us both." Though these nine stories are not linked, they can be read as variations on the theme of the unheroic reality of war. Brilliant and affecting, The Caprices merits comparison to The English Patient and, in a different vein but with a similar breadth of reach, David Mitchell's Ghostwritten. --Regina Marler

Other Award Winning Books by Sabina Murray
Valiant Gentlemen by Sabina Murray
9 reviews (2016) (496p) (NYT100)
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Sabina Murray Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 1  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 1  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 1 The Caprices ·  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 1 The Caprices ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award


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