*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: An Idea About My Dead Uncle
Author: K.R. Wilson
Publisher: Guernica Editions
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
An Idea About My Dead Uncle is about the identities we choose and the ones that are imposed on us. It is about being on the outside looking in. It is about dealing with pain through the artistic process. It is about delusion and healing. It is about the power of narrative.
It’s always a great joy to read and review Canadian literature that I can share with all of you, readers. One of the more recent Canadian books that I’ve read is An Idea About My Dead Uncle by K.R. Wilson. The synopsis does not adequately convey the plot of this book, so I’ll outline a little for you here. Jason Lavoie is a mixed-race Canadian who knows little about his Chinese heritage. He is struggling with a sense of disconnect and loss at not really knowing himself and where he comes from. He’s been labelled as “exotic” throughout his life, a label that has brought him discomfort and an immediate sense of otherness that creates distance between him and those who apply such a label. As he begins down the path of self-discovery, his desire for understanding leads him into a frenzied quest to find a long lost uncle who went missing in China years prior. His search for meaning sends him into a spiral that threatens to tear his relationships with himself and others apart.
This book is, overall, well-written and easy to dive into. Wilson’s writing style is vibrant and vivid. It is, however, a story full of pain, destruction, and confusion. It was an enjoyable read, but there is no happy ending to be found. This book presents more of a philosophical question that is posed by the author and the narrative about how we as humans can survive and move our lives forward knowing, or rather not knowing perhaps, who we are, where we come from, and how these these things shape and mould the lives we live.
My biggest hang up was that the book just ended with no resolution. We have a quest narrative here, driven by self-discovery, yet in the end, we are left hanging with no growth on the part of the protagonist. The reader is left with a sense of loss and lack of fulfillment in the end. This, combined with characters who are lost, self-destructive, and intent on making negative decisions that hurt others (not always a bad thing in a novel as these make for very complex characters. You just need to combine these characteristics with some kind of growth or solid resolution to make the story satisfying), left me feeling a bit blasé about the whole thing.
Overall, I rated this book a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I think it’s a great effort, but I needed there to be some sort of redemption wherein the protagonist experienced some sort of personal growth, or his search for his uncle resulting in something other than a surreal and disjointed path through the Chinese countryside. If you do dive into this one, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear another perspective.