Author: Ann Patchet
Title: Bel Canto
Narrator: Anna Fields
Publication Info: Blackstone Audiobooks, 2001.
This novel is set in an unnamed Latin American nation that lures a powerful Japanese business man to a birthday party in his honor with an intimate performance by his favorite operatic soprano. A group of revolutionaries attacks the mansion and takes everyone hostage and settle into a hostage situation that carries on for months. Patchet is great at narrating the interior lives of various characters – hostages and captors alike – and the relationships that grow among them until rather surreally they settle into patterns where the lines between the two groups are blurred and daily life becomes something of a prosperous summer camp. Patchet is great with the character work – the Japanese businessman and the opera singer are joined by the gracious host of the Vice President, a shy girl among the terrorists, the indispensable translator, and the Swiss Red Cross negotiator among others. The plot grows increasingly absurd and stretching credulity in the latter parts of the novel, but nevertheless an entertaining with even doses humor and underlying tension.