Review of the book “Small World” by Jonathan Evison


Just as he did in his previous novel “West of Here”, Evison weaves together stories from different time periods – in this case, the mid-19th century and the present day – to create a kaleidoscopic series of juxtapositions. We meet Wu Chen, who in 1851 witnesses the murder of his associates at the hands of white men, recovers their hidden gold, marries the daughter of a grocer, and becomes a supermarket magnate. In 2019, six generations later, Jenny Chen deals with corporate layoffs, berates her spoiled sons, and wonders if that’s all there is. Luyu Tully is a Miwok woman whose uprooting in the 1850s is echoed by her descendant Laila, who flees her home, an abusive relationship and a job as a waitress in Northern California 170 years later. In prewar Illinois, a slave named Othello escapes, renames himself George Flowers, and flees with his free lover; a century and a half later, single mother Brianna Flowers is working hard to provide for her basketball star son. Meanwhile, Finn Bergen, present in Utah in 1869, turns out to be the first of four generations of railroad workers in Bergens, the last embodied by Walter, 63, whose temporary neglect on the day of his retirement binds the various current railways. intrigues together.


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