Mister Orange

Truus Matti, Author
Truus Matti, trans. from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (156p) ISBN 978-1-59270-123-0
Reviewed on: 11/26/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-89-8401-438-1
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Linus’s older brother Albie has gone off to fight in WWII, and Linus, who lives in Manhattan, has inherited Albie’s grocery delivery route and his love of comic books. On his grocery rounds, Linus meets Mister Orange, a forthright, unconventional artist who serves Linus as a provocative sounding board (he’s modeled on Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, who lived in Manhattan during the war). Yet even open-minded Mister Orange presents Linus with a dilemma: what value does the artist’s imagination have in the midst of a war? “If imagination were as harmless as you think,” Mister Orange tells Linus, “then the Nazis wouldn’t be so scared of it.” Served well by Watkinson’s graceful translation, Matti (Departure Time) draws an exceptionally sensitive portrait of introspective Linus and his understanding of what war is and what it does to its victims, as Albie’s letters home grow increasingly sober. She avoids the temptation to pump up the story’s action with gratuitous violence; the events of the book are low-key enough that the focus stays on Linus. It’s a quiet novel, but a deeply touching one. Ages 11–up. (Jan.)
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