The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud
Winner of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, The Sentimentalists is the story of an aging Vietnam veteran who leaves him home in North Dakota to seek peace and solitude in Canada. When his daughter comes to visit,—fleeing her own issues—she sets out to learn everything about her father and thus the man's past troubled past is brought back to life.
Reviewer: Patrick Ness
"As an objective reader, I was engrossed by the elegant plotting and intelligent writing, by the questing after a truth that would never be found. As the adult son of a Vietnam veteran, I was, simply, moved to tears."
Reviewer: Zoe Whittall
"The Sentimentalists can sometimes feel like a stumbling colt, with moments of astounding raw beauty and original wordplay. Conversely, there are moments the prose forgets to balance on its new legs....All in all, this is a solid debut and a beautiful tribute to a father-daughter relationship."
Reviewer: Adrian Turpin
"The Sentimentalists is a writer’s book: lyrical, thoughtful, occasionally – if fleetingly – bogged down by the intensity of its focus but compulsively readable."
Reviewer: Maureen Corrigan
"For all the ways that The Sentimentalists feels a bit belabored — its imagery too insistent with meaning — the melancholy mood and restrained language of the story settles deep into a reader's consciousness."
Reviewer: Ophelia Field
"The book becomes less a novel than a critique of conventional narrative memoir, biography and history....But creative audacity is fair to expect from novelists, in contrast to the humility assumed by poetry, or required of war crime investigators, and it is arguable whether a refusal to resolve mysteries is daring or, actually, overly cautious."
Reviewer: Emily St. John Mandel
"The Sentimentalists contains moments of pure beauty. And yet it’s extraordinarily difficult to maintain tension in a novel that’s allowed to move so slowly, and with so many digressions, and it’s difficult not to wonder what this book might have been if Skibsrud’s obvious talent had been subjected to a stronger editorial hand."
Reviewer: Rayyan Al-Shawaf
"Johanna Skibsrud’s debut novel makes its modest contribution; The Sentimentalists is an intermittently engrossing tale that explores the unreliable nature of memory in general, and that of people scarred by conflict in particular."