Breakfast in Babylonby Emer Martin
Isolt is down but not out in Paris. She's a sharp-tongued Irish drifter with a fierce instinct for survival who falls into a darkly comic relationship with Christopher, the "hoodoo man." He's a Puerto Rican anarchist and wheeler-dealer from Detroit who fuels his messianic delusions with Iggy Pop songs and smack. From Dublin to Paris, New York to New Orleans, the two run small-time scams, deal dope, and squat among an international underclass of vagabonds and punk-junkies. Begging is their way of life, until Isolt determines a desperate escape. Written with razor-sharp humor and raw storytelling verve, Breakfast in Babylon explores the stark world of a rootless generation - a world of beggars who choose and beggars who have no choice.
Paris is where the bulk of the action takes place, as Irish teenager Isolt lands penniless among the beggars and quickly adapts to their ways. The death from a stumble down stairs of an alcoholic friend, an older, once beautiful woman who escaped husband and children to find refuge among the addicts, is an early lesson for Isolt, but it comes at a time when she's not quite ready to heed it. When the chill of Paris becomes too much, she and her friends hop a train to the southern coast, but aside from sampling a new drug that makes them all crazy, sleeping on the beach hasn't much appeal. Isolt returns to the city and pairs up with Christopher, a Hispanic dealer/junkie from Detroit whose dark side the others fear but whose housing tips generally keep them all dry. When he uses up a drug shipment he was supposed to sell, however, things start to go sour. The gentle giant living with Isolt and junkie Christopher is beaten to death by their supplier's thugs, so they flee to London, where Isolt can live on the dole. A marriage for the conveniences that citizenship would offer follows, but Christopher's barbaric nature quickly warps the relationship. Isolt falls desperately in love with one of her ex-squatmates, only to see this path to redemption nipped in the bud when her husband locks her up and brutalizes her again. She escapes to America, looking for a fresh start.
Excessive commentary and a complicated, unconvincing villain don't help this gloomy if undeniably frank and vivid story, leaving one to hope for a firmer hand on the reins next time.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.53(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.86(d)
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Meet the Author
Emer Martin was born in Dublin in 1968. She has lived in London, Paris, and the Middle East, and graduated as valedictorian from Hunter College in 1998. Her first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, was named Ireland's Best Book of 1996 at the prestigious Listowel Writers' Week. More Bread or I'll Appear is her second novel.
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