Spot the Mistakes

Thomas Jones

  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
    Bloomsbury, 353 pp, 12.99, June 2011, ISBN 978 1 4088 1859 6

In Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto, which won the Orange Prize in 2002, a group of international businessmen and diplomats have gathered at the vice-president’s house in an unnamed and, despite some superficial resemblances to Peru, fictitious South American country for Katsumi Hosokawa’s 53rd birthday party. Hosokawa is the head of a large Japanese electronics firm, and the ‘host country’ is hoping he’ll build a factory there. They’ve lured him over by hiring the famous American soprano Roxane Coss to sing after dinner. The party is interrupted by a group of gunmen who burst into the vice-presidential mansion through the air-conditioning vents before the encore and take everyone hostage. Their plan had been to grab the president and get out, but he’s not there, having decided at the last minute to stay at home and watch his favourite soap opera instead. So the kidnappers settle in for the long haul.

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