14—Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

What an interesting story. In hopes of luring a Japanese electronics company to locate in his country, the president of an unidentified South American Country has enticed the CEO of a Japanese electronics firm to come to his country to celebrate his (the CEO's) birthday. The CEO is an avid, if not obsessive, opera buff. The enticement—a private performance by the best Soprano in the opera world. The CEO agrees to come but says outright he will not locate in the president's country.

Also attending the party (which is being held in the home of the vice president) are the ambassadors to the country from various European nations, the vice president, and the CEO's translator—a man who speaks a half-dozen languages.

After the soprano's performance the vice president's home is invaded by a group of revolutionaries who want to kidnap the president and use him to barter for the release of political prisoners. The president, however, has not attended because the party is on a night when his favorite TV show airs and he doesn't want to miss it.

The revolutionaries occupy the house for 4 1/2 months and the bulk of the story describes the growing relationship between the hostages and the revolutionaries.

There is an intriguing  shift in the author's voice after the party is invaded. Prior to the invasion the language of the story suggests a fable with a moral. That sense of fable isn't present after the invasion.

Extremely well written and interesting, the books ending is surprising.

© Surveyor of the Passing Scene