Published by Bloomsbury in 2006
I have read many books but nothing quite like the People of Paper. With elements of magical realism, Salvador Plascencia tells a story of an authors battle against his emotions and his characters in his novel. In this book characters have a life of their own and rage war against Saturn (their name for the author).
The unique thing I like about this book is that each character has their own story. The book is formatted on some chapters into columns, each one for an individual character. For example the first column could be the author’s narration, and then the second column could be Little Merced’s narrating who own story. The switching between characters in this style is unique and helps weave a spellbinding story that works only on paper.
The People of Paper is a book that deserves to be re-read to experience the story in a different way. Kafka on the Shore and The Night Circus are two other books that spring to mind when thinking about books that have layers of deeper meaning. Magical realism is a genre that allows me to forget about reality and get lost in the story. A woman made of paper made sense in the context of a fairy tale kind of way.
This book is difficult review without giving too much away. The novel is experimental, full of many individual narratives that loosely relate to each other. The main problem with this novel is that the continuous shifting of narrative can confuse the reader. Also, the introduction of very minor characters like Rita Hayworth, feels unnecessary and fails to advance the main story.
The People of Paper focuses a lot on religion and the culture that surrounds it. The religious imagery in this book helps paint a picture of the culture in Mexico and in towns in California with a high Mexican population. I read a lot of fiction written by British or American authors so it was nice to read a novel that was written by a person born in Mexico, though he moved to El Monte, near Los Angeles at a young age.
To summarise, The People of Paper is an experimental novel, which can be described as magical realism. The battle between the characters from the book and the author makes an interesting and creative story. The formatting of the book just about worked. The only negative in this novel is the inclusion of too many narratives, some that add very little to the story.
Rating: 3.8/5 stars