'Banks once again demonstrates his extraordinary dark powers of imagination' Sunday Times
Hisako Onada, world-famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. But Panama is a country whose politics are as volatile as the local freedom fighters. When Hisako's ship is captured, it is not long before the atmosphere is as flammable as an oxy-acetylene torch, and the tension as sharp as the spike on the cello...
Praise for Iain Banks:
'The most imaginative novelist of his generation' The Times
'His verve and talent will always be recognised, and his work will always find and enthral new readers' Ken MacLeod, Guardian
'His work was mordant, surreal, and fiercely intelligent' Neil Gaiman
'An exceptional wordsmith' Scotsman
Because she is afraid to fly during a time of international tensions, famous Japanese cellist Hisako Onoda boards a tanker en route to her concert in Rotterdam. When a conflict erupts and the Panama Canal is closed, the ship is forced to drop anchor in Gatun Lake. A guerrilla faction takes the passengers and crew captive, Hisako is raped, and we watch as the sensitive musician metamorphoses into a grenade-toting avenging warrior. This stunning, hallucinatory, semi-surreal fable pits an artistic, precariously balanced sensibility against a world of brutal political forces. Among the ship's passengers, all taken hostage by the People's Liberation Front, are a South African engineer, an erudite Egyptian and Hisako's wimpy young French boyfriend. Banks ( The Wasp Factory ) doesn't do much with these characters. His wrenching story, which can be read as a parable of the feminine principle reasserting itself and taking revenge on earth-destroying males, derives its power from the exploration of Hisako's mental states, her violent nightmares and her flashbacks to Japan, where she became a prodigy, strove to please her mother and missed a father she never knew, dead from radiation sickness in the aftermath of Hiroshima.