top of page
  • Writer's picturecstucky2

"Morningside" | Reviewed by William Winkler

Novelist Téa Obreht is a native of Yugoslavia who earned degrees from UCLA and Cornell University. Her first two novels, “The Tiger’s Wife,” and “Inland,” bear references to her Balkan background.

Obreht’s most recent novel, “The Morningside,” does not directly allude to her ethnic heritage. Set in a world torn by war and cataclysmic climate change, “The Morningside” takes place in a geographically vague locale named Island City. At the onset, preteen Sil and her mother, refugees from their distant war-torn homeland, arrive in Island City as beneficiaries of the mysterious Repopulation Program. Sil’s great-aunt Ena is the superintendent of The Morningside, a previously upscale hotel located on Island City’s once fashionable Battle Hill.

Fallen from its former grandeur, The Morningside is now home to a diverse collection of refugees and long-term residents of Island City. The hotel’s most notable and mysterious resident, Bezi Duras, is the sole inhabitant of the 33rd floor penthouse. Duras emerges every afternoon to walk her three hulking dogs, often returning in the wee hours of the morning.

Sil’s mother has steadfastly refused to reveal details of their family history. The girl begins to develop a relationship with her great-aunt in the hope that the older woman will provide more information about the family. Sil’s plans are thwarted when Ena dies suddenly and Sil’s mother takes over responsibility for the building’s maintenance.

Shortly after Ena’s death a new family, and daughter, take up residence. Sil and the daughter, Mila, become acquaintances, then friends, then co-conspirators who attempt to discover the secrets of Bezi Duras’s penthouse.

In the course of their plotting, they get to know more about Lewis May, a former poet who now is the voice of the Dispatch, a pirate radio station serving as a call-in hub for disseminating news and dispelling rumors about life in Island City.

In their search for knowledge about Bezi Duras the two girls uncover other mysteries, some of which resolve, others that do not.

Although set in a seemingly apocalyptic world, “The Morningside” is not an end-times novel. Rather, it is a story of love and relationship, mystery and discovery. Novelist Obreht has created a believable milieu into which she has placed a tale of credible humanity.


5 views0 comments


bottom of page