I’m sure that many people had many wonderful things to say about this book when it came out in 2001 (it’s beautifully written, it’s funny and sad and humanizing, etc.), but what I love the most about is how the men in the story come to appreciate and practice qualities that are traditionally deemed feminine and hence lesser:
- Communication: A Japanese businessman’s trusty translator—who speaks dozens of languages—quickly becomes the most sought-after person at this inte
rnational involuntary conference.
- Cooking: A French ambassador gets to demonstrate his flair in the kitchen, even if the terrorists won’t let him use knives.
- Cleaning: The vice president—who always felt useless in his second-banana role—discovers a new sense of purpose in polishing the windows, picking up trash and scouring the carpets.
- Art: Although some of the kidnapped crew already had a passion for music, most considered it a hobby to be indulged in only after their long workdays were through. Here they quickly realize that the daily rituals of the opera singer and her makeshift accompanist (previously one of the hobbyists) can literally save their lives. Art might be escapism, but this is escapism at its most transcendent.
So a book that at first appeared to be about world politics (manly!) has tu