Matthews, L.S. 2004. FISH. New York: Delacorte, Random House. ISBN 1400085217
An absolutely amazing, beautiful, outstanding novel, FISH is the story of Tiger, the child of aid workers in an unnamed country
beset with war and drought and useless flooding, and his/her escape through dust storms, sucking mud flats, mountainous terrain,
armed insurgents, and just plain exhaustion, to safe territory. The family is led by the Guide, and Tiger is kept going by
the effort to protect the small fish found in a mud puddle which s/he carries carefully, in a pot, a water bottle, and finally
in his/her mouth, to safety. Matthews' simple, clear prose is straight out of Pinter or Beckett--more questions are raised
than are answered--and the images are astonishing and unforgettable. When Tiger goes to catch the fish, "The water was
almost mud, and it felt like putting your hands into cold soup."
None of the characters, except Tiger, has a name; the country might be Afghanistan or the Sudan or anywhere war and weather
have forced the population to flee; the Guide may be man or ghost or angel or more; and the Fish--the Fish may be Hope or
Life or the Soul or the promise of Christ. Matthews leaves it entirely up to the reader, and it's impossible not to think
strongly and deeply about difficult journeys, sanctuary, and the behavior of mankind for and against itself, during and after
reading this astonishing book.