Literature: Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder

Title: State of Wonder // Author: Ann Patchett // Publisher: Harper // Pub. Date: June 2011 // 368 p.

Ann Patchett’s new novel, State of Wonder, has been #3 on The New York Times bestseller list for the past two weeks…and the NYT Book Review gave it some good buzz last weekend. I’d say that the attention is well deserved for this book and for Patchett, who has also written two books of nonfiction and five other novels, including Bel Canto, which won, basically, a bunch of big awards.

In State of Wonder, medical researcher Marina Singh gets sent into one of the most alive places on earth to uncover an unexplained death. The book opens with news of a death announcement that arrives in Minnesota by way of an Aerogram sent from Brazil. Such startling news immediately sets this book’s plot into motion and begs the question: what in the world happened to Anders Eckman?

Eckman—the deceased—had been sent deep into the Amazonian jungle by his employer, a Minnesota-based pharmaceutical company. But he doesn’t return. Marina Singh, Eckman’s loyal co-worker and friend, seems like the most logical person to uncover the truth about what exactly happened. So…off to the Amazon Marina goes, not knowing where exactly she’ll end up or what details she’ll bring home.

State of Wonder is lush with the details of its vibrant setting in the Amazonian jungle, a place that teems with life: rare birds, poisonous snakes, and a tree whose bark promises a revolutionary change for Western medicine. Bringing together elements of adventure, travel, and mystery, this story sustains itself with a compelling central character and takes an exciting turn at the end.

Click here to read a great interview I found on—author Elizabeth Gilbert (of the whole Eat, Pray, Love craze) chattily interviews Patchett, her “close personal friend.”

Click here to read my upcoming review of Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder on the Contemporary Literature website.

Photo credit: Harper.


One response to “Literature: Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder

  1. I really enjoyed the novel, but I had a big problem with Marina’s character. She was kind of a blank slate at best.

    My thoughts are here:

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