Rather bizarre book. If you\'re in the mood for something different and unexpected, I\'d recommend it. Starts of innocently enough and then becomes violently graphic.
Due to her fear of flying, famous Japanese cellist Hisako Onoda opted to travel to Europe by ship for her European debut tour. However, at a stop in Panama, the ship is held up and caught in the middle of a civil war. At first it seems that the delay will be no more than an inconvenience, possibly necessitating the rescheduling of a few concert dates. But the situation rapidly declines, going from bad to worse...
The story is interspersed with surreal and ominous dream sequences, and flashbacks that explore Hisako's (rather unhappy) life, revealing some unexpected dark secrets...
Beautiful language, explicit violence, and philosophical exploration of situations and motivations are all hallmarks of Banks' writing. Nice, subtle use of foreshadowing, too.
Stylistically (& topically) it reminded me quite a bit of J.G. Ballard.
It seems a lot of people (Banks fans) don't really have this as one of their favorites - I'm not sure why. I did think it was a really excellent book.
Banks is one of my favorite current authors (I like both his sf & 'mainstream' fiction), and again, this book did not disappoint.
Not among my favorites of Banks' works; I'd nearly given up by the time the action started, but he's a fantastic author that I'll always be able to read simply for the prose even if the story isn't one of his best. I want the Mr. Banks that wrote Wasp Factory, and I know that's a high bar.