On “Fraction of a Whole”


We are not invited into this dysfunctional family of three generations, all 750 pages of it.

Crime fiction, social commentary and extremely hilarious saga.

I stayed up late last night for its racing conclusion.

A year and a half ago, I read Freedom by Franzen. As engrossing as Fraction of a Whole.

This family questioned everything, but centrally, they wrestle with Death inevitable (committing suicide is to take the wind out of “natural” death’s sail).

From cover to cover, we learn to think and reason like Martin, Terry and Jasper Dean (Father, Uncle and Son), given ample details for contextual understanding. On the way, we learn to like the women in their lives as well. The settings took us from Europe to Australia, to Thailand and back.

I know a few Aussies. But this book took me deep in the woods, where to warn his family of imminent danger, Jasper had to resort to telephathy.

Terry Dean later resurfaced as huge as could be. With the locals taking the law into their own hands (machetes etc…), it reminded me of a scene from Apocalypse Now “horror, horror”.

It’s Jasper Dean who played memory keeper. He had his own set of problems: trying to find as much as possible about his deceased Parisienne mom.

This book  raises an important question: are we 100 per cent ourselves? How about our neighbors? Perhaps we all try to blend in, interacting with the lowest  common denominators (in the age of carefully crafted image on social network). If so, then, let’s turn the page and hear Martin Dean’s speech on the night his grand idea got implemented (making the population of Australia all millionaires).  Even fools sometimes got a point. And for someone whose debut got a finalist vote on Man Booker‘s prize, this is as good a read as can be. For me, it’s a rare treat,to follow the Deans in Vietnamese version. Fraction of a Whole. And that “whole” will soon be 9 Billion souls by 2050.

Each with a story to tell. In Deans’ case, a fraction turned out to be quite a hand full.

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