Serendipity in the Stacks #91: Amnesia Clinic

Here’s a debut novel that received plenty of critical kudos and is a great choice for book groups looking for the kind of title no other book group is reading. Amnesia Clinic won the 2007 Somerset Maugham Award and was short listed for the Costa Award for First Novel.

Anti and Fabian are unlikely friends in Quito, Ecuador who share a love for outlandish yarn-spinning and yearn to “discover” something remarkable. While they will talk about everything, one subject goes unmentioned, the deaths of Fabian’s parents.

One night, after too much tequila, Fabian tells the story of his parents’ demise. Anti, sympathetic, yet disbelieving, crafts a false newspaper story to demonstrate his support for Fabian and the fictions that help him get through this tragedy. However, Fabian reads the clipping and also notes the bogus story next to it, one for an Amnesia Clinic serving victims of accidents or kidnappings with no memories of who they are.

Fabian is certain his mother, whose body was never recovered, is staying in the Amnesia Clinic. The boys set off on a journey that will reveal more about their friendship and future than either can imagine.

The compelling story, natural and likeable characters and realistic portrayals of adults are the highlights of this novel. James Scudamore has captured well the sense of wonder and familiarity the boys experience with their shared world and each other. Readers have compared this book to Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Scudamore’s follow up, Heliopolis, is also set in Brazil and would make a fine choice for book groups.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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