Wednesday, April 7, 2010

REVIEW: Eddie Signwriter, by Adam Schwartzman

Eddie Signwriter, by Adam Schwartzman. Published 2010 by Random House. Literary Fiction.

Eddie Signwriter is an artful, elegant novel from poet Adam Schwartzman, a writer originally from South Africa. The story centers around a scandal: a teenage love affair leads to the death of prominent community member Nana Oforiwaa, and young Eddie and Celeste are held responsible. Eddie goes to live with his uncle; a gifted artist, Eddie learns the trade of sign painting from a neighbor. But he can't get away from his past or his sense of guilt, and he flees northward through Dakar to Paris, where, hopefully, freedom and redemption await.

This is the kind of novel that readers of literary fiction wait for. Schwartzman has published three volumes of poetry and shows a real gift for both language and storytelling in this captivating little volume. I didn't know Schwartzman was a poet when I picked up Eddie Signwriter but I can't say I was surprised, given his ear for the cadences of spoken language and vivid description, of the settings, of Eddie's artwork and the delicate and complex emotional states of the characters. Themes explored include freedom, love and the power of art, as well as some politics I missed, but I'm guessing that this is the kind of book that will reward a second or a third read-through- which I plan to give it.

You can probably tell by now, but I loved Eddie Signwriter. I attended Schwartzman's reading at the Harvard Book Store last night and really enjoyed hearing him talk about his book- I only wish I had prepared a question of my own. When I think about what I love about the book, I think about the beautiful final scene between Eddie and his uncle where so much is said with so little, how regret and sorrow and love and redemption share the small space between them. I really hope Eddie Signwriter gets the attention it deserves, and finds the readers who'll love it as much as I did.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.

8 comments:

mynovelreviews said...

Sounds like a great novel - I'll have to check it out!

Sandra said...

Sounds good. I have just reserved it for myself at my public library. I look forward to reading this one. Thanks for reviewing and bringing it to our attention.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds fabulous and what a great cover!

Aarti said...

This sounds great, and I agree with bermudaonion that it is a fabulous cover! Thanks for reviewing a book that I have never even heard of!

Alyce said...

This one came to me in the mail unsolicited and yours is the first review I've seen of it. I'm so excited to see that you like it so much! I don't know when I'll be able to squeeze it in because I'm reading a lot of other books right now, but hopefully soon.

Zibilee said...

This sounds like an incredible read! I hadn't heard much about it, but your review has made me want to explore further. I am glad you loved it and I am putting it on the top of my wish list. Thanks for the great review!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Interesting review. And by the way, Nana Oforiwaa is a Ghanaian name. lol. I wonder how he picked that. Oforiwaa is a female name and Nana is used for both sexes.

jewwishes said...

What a wonderful review, prompting me to want to buy the book.