Dennis Bock, Going Home Again

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This is my second read from the Giller Prize short list, a short novel whose protagonist is a middle-aged man with a teenage daughter who just separated from his Spanish wife. After living in Spain for 20 years, he returns to his native Toronto to start a new language school and extend the business he has been successful in growing in several European countries. This return home is an occasion to reconnect with his estranged brother, who is also going through marital woes of his own. And an old love with a complex history resurfaces and stirs up old feelings. This novel illustrates a number of questions such as where is home, what is love, how does it differ from friendship, what is the true nature of our relationships with family members, what do kids really understand of their parents’ troubles, to what extent do partners really share information about past history, what makes a solid home, what does success mean, etc. This goes much beyond the first level of the story which may appear to be about midlife crisis. While the plot may look somewhat simplistic (our protagonist eventually goes “home” to his wife), the book is more about the complexity of the multiple interactions and meanings each life is built from than it is about plot.

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