by Ceridwen Dovey
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In her splendid debut novel, Blood Kin, Ceridwen Dovey offers a tale about the revolutionary overthrow of a dictatorship in an unnamed country. The exchange of power she describes isn’t specific to the totalitarian governments of, say, Latin America or Africa, nor is it a critique of the sad play of current US international affairs. The novel isn’t, in fact, a commentary on our times, despite its setting in the present or the recent past. Instead, Dovey’s concern is more elemental: Blood Kin is a story about power, political and personal, and its dangerous ineffability.
The narration is circuitous: Alternating chapters—from the points of view of, first, the ousted president’s chef, barber, and portraitist and, later, the chef’s daughter, the barber’s brother’s fiancée, and the portraitist’s wife—wind
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