State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

by on March 30th, 2012
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett Cover Image

This intriguing novel starts in Minnesota, at a big pharmaceutical research lab, where Marina Singh has worked for several years.  Dr Singh’s colleague, Anders Eckman, went to the Amazon area to get a progress report from veteran researcher, Dr Annick Swenson, who has not been forthcoming on the outcome of her studies and the corporate funders are growing anxious.   A brief report of Anders death arrives in Minnesota and Marina is sent to find out the details by her married lover, and boss, Mr Fox.  The contrast between Minnesota and the Amazon region where the Lakashi tribe lives could not be more stark.  Marina finds herself cut off from the world she knows, even wearing native attire after her clothes are stolen, as she tries to learn more about Anders’ death and the status of Dr Swenson’s research into the fertility of women of the tribe who routinely gnaw the bark of a certain species of trees and continue to have babies well into their 70’s.  As Annika observes, what 70 year old woman wants to have babies?  Good question, and one that this novel explores along with many others including the place of commercialism in medicine, culture and identity, good and evil.  It’s a real tale, well told.

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