Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Book Review: 'Zo' by Murray Pura

Canadian author Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada but also is genetically bonded to the Ukraine as we discover in his Dedication. Murray is a prolific writer (his published works are in excess of 50!) and he his works embrace historical fiction, contemporary fiction, literary fiction, romance, adventure, western, suspense, fantasy, Amish, and inspirational. He has won many awards and is recognized throughout Canada, America, the UK, and Holland.

ZO (SAINT ZO’S DANCE) opens with two poems followed by an eloquent Prologue: ‘I came here because the sun and the moon make no sound or mistakes and the men who walk past me day and night do not intend to interfere with that pattern. The men are sworn to silence. I swear to God earth and heaven for a hundred miles in any direction have taken the same oath. I have stood outside the stone walls when I could see trees jumping up and down in the wind and heard nothing. The jet planes are high and unnoticed. Only one long white string. Perfectly taut from one end of the blue dome to the other. When I first came the silence was much more strictly observed. In those days, we had our own sign language and could move our hands as deftly as a swallow spins its wings. Now there are more opportunities to talk. Especially to outsiders. I prefer to avoid such contact. I found little enough of God among humans before I came here and I doubt much has changed since then. It is hard enough to find him between the walls in the company of those who search for him morning, noon and night. The crickets in the fields give me enough language. It was not my desire to talk. Certainly not about the past. I cannot return. What is the point of the talk? But along with an oath of silence I took an oath of obedience. I am ordered to break silence. I break it. Whenever I make the break, it is always a mistake. They think the talk will help. I know it will disappoint and anger. There will be great disillusionment. A catastrophe, like the breaking apart of a planet, the dismembering of a world. All because of words. It is better, always better, that monastics should have nothing to say. They can speak after they are dead.’

But as is Murray’s style his inspirational, spiritual story blooms, as he shares in the well written synopsis – ‘Andrew Chornavka took on the Trappist’s cowl and disappeared from the 21st century in order to forget the century before. Yet even at the secluded monastery in America the past finds him. A delegation from the Vatican arrives with questions about his youngest sister, Zoya, who is, to Andrew’s shock, a candidate for sainthood. Reluctant, hostile, wanting only to be left alone to his dairy herd and gardens and prayers, Andrew eventually begins to talk. The talk takes him where he does not wish to go, makes alive again what he had hoped was dead and buried, and makes real what had long ago been lost. He knows what he has to tell is no more than a story about a family that tried to stay together, and keep love strong, when everything on earth tried to rip that love apart. Yet he also knows the archbishop wants a story about an angel who walked with God. But Andrew did not experience a world of angels and miracles and fairy tales. And neither did his sister Zo. Or did she?’

This is a fine tale, blending family, religion, spirituality and a touch of fantasy. A heady and worthy addition to Murray Pura’s reputation. Grady Harp, January 18
This book is free to borrow on Kindle Unlimited

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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