Author: Gail Vida Hamburg
Narrator: Colleen MacMahon
Length: 11 hours and 30 minutes
Publisher: Mirare Press
Released: Jun. 25, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Liberty Landing - a 2016 Finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction - narrates the American experience of the 21st century through the lives of a polycultural cast of natives, immigrants, and refugees in Azyl Park, a town in the Midwest.
After Angeline Lalande, a journalist and historian, unearths the real meaning of the name Azyl, conferred on the town in the 1800s by immigrant-hating politicians, the town elders begin the act of renaming it. During the course of the renaming, we meet the intriguing denizens of the town -survivors, strugglers, and strivers of every race and nationality, and see the intersection of their lives and the ways they find home, heaven, and haven in each other. We learn about the singular journeys that brought them to Azyl Park, a place that both transforms them and is transformed by them.
The larger story of the American experiment is told through the personal story of Alexander Hamilton, the essential immigrant among the Founding Fathers, as Angeline writes a book about him. By the end of the novel, after Azyl Park is renamed, each of the characters has lost or found something essential.
Liberty Landing is about the personal and the political, family and loss, memory and migration, finding new love and a new home, and history and the American experiment. Seminal moments of the American experience figure in this literary and historical fiction. Inspired by John Dos Passos' USA Trilogy about early 20th century Americans, Liberty Landing is a sweeping, lush, layered saga set in a vibrant community with a diverse, international cast of characters, people marked by neuroses, flaws, secrets, unspeakable pasts, humor, warmth, vulnerability, and humanity. Liberty Landing is Gail Vida Hamburg's love letter to the American experiment - the first in a trilogy.
Gail Vida Hamburg is an award-winning American journalist, author, and museum storyist. She is the author of The Edge of the World (Mirare Press, 2007), a novel about the impact of American foreign policy on individual lives. A nominee for the 2008 James Fenimore Cooper Prize, it is a frequent text in undergraduate post- colonial studies, war studies, and creative writing programs. Born in Malaysia, she spent her teens and twenties in England before migrating to the United States. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Literature and Creative Writing from Bennington Writers Seminars at Bennington College, Vermont. Liberty Landing, a finalist for the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, is the first volume in her trilogy about the American Experience and her love letter to the great American Experiment. She lives in Chicago—the setting for Liberty Landing
Colleen MacMahon is an actress, writer and painter. She trained at Arts Educational School (Hertfordshire) and subsequently qualified as a Speech and Drama teacher, following which she has combined her performing career with directing, writing and mentoring. She has won awards for her short story writing and is currently working on her debut novel. Colleen does much of her Narration and Voiceover work from her home studio in the beautiful south west of England, where she lives with her partner and their two dogs.
We always seem to start with the good news and I will do the same here. I enjoyed listening to Colleen MacMahon tell me this story. With the subject of the book I think having it told to me with an accent just gave me a better sense of the characters. But it didn't help me figure out where this story was going.
One minute my mind was going in one direction and then just as quickly my mind was taken somewhere else. I almost felt like I had to listen to the scene again and again so that I could figure out what was going on. With the current questions as to what's going to happen to those trying to immigrate into our country, I liked the idea of a journalist helping me unfold the history of a town. It's at this point where I got lost. There was just so much going on that trying to lock onto what was going on with these people became almost impossible.
I went into this liking the idea of in a small way connecting with my own ancestors that were immigrants themselves - this is what our country was built on. It's something we take for granted as we go about our daily lives. We walk by people but we don't know their story or that of their family history. And this is why historians become important. They're needed to fill in the blanks.
For me, I felt that I needed to have the written word in order to better help me figure out the story our narrator was telling me. I couldn't blame my confusion on my iPod because there were no issues that arose while listening. I couldn't even blame it on distractions. It's possible that someone else wouldn't have the same issues and that's why reviews become important. But this did leave me curious as to the other book our author has written.
Liberty Landing - A Love Letter to the American Experiment by Gail Vida HamburgAt this moment in American life, hyperpartisan politics has all but riven the country in two, identity politics and racism have found comfort and embrace, the article of faith, “America is a nation of immigrants,” has been erased from immigration services, and the only binding narrative we appear to have is a love of granite countertops and stainless steel appliances
Add to this, a recent study which found that 75% of Americans don’t have friends of other races. How will we ever know our fellow Americans, or view them as fully human with hopes, dreams, and fears of their own? How will we identify with their longing for love and home, or recognize their dreams for their children, or understand their vision for a safe future?
While most immigrant fiction is about a particular ethnic group, the one an author hails from, my novel, Liberty Landing, is about a multiracial, polycultural American community. Its protagonist, Gabriel Khoury is a Palestinian American, a Christian with ancestral roots in the biblical Galilee, where Jesus once walked. Angeline Lalande, a descendant of the first slaves brought to French Louisiana in the 1700s, is Black and French, a Creole. Bruce Halliday is a master beer brewer from Geelong Australia who comes to an America that had resonated with him through country songs. Tina Trang is a Vietnamese American, who found a haven in America after the fall of Saigon.
Liberty Landing is about the American Experiment and American Experience, about who we once were, who we used to be, and who we really are. There is great beauty in the founding of America and in its tapestry. We are individual yarns, warp and weft indispensable to the whole arras. The audiobook of Liberty Landing is read by the English actress and voice talent, Colleen McMahon. She adds an essential dimension to the written novel by presenting America to Americans in a foreigner’s voice, to offer an oblique look at what is familiar, to make the commonplace interesting, to remind readers of the remarkable in what is often taken for granted.
Dream Cast for Liberty Landing by Gail Vida HamburgGabriel Khoury, the protagonist in Liberty Landing, is a dashing Christian Palestinian American. I would love to see Adam Bakri, the equally dashing Palestinian actor play Gabriel.
Angelina LaLande, the award-winning journalist and historian, is bi-racial, a Louisiana Creole—the descendant of slaves from Nevis and their French captors in Louisiana. I would cast Kylie Bunbury, the bi-racial Guyanese Canadian actress as Angeline.
For Bruce Halliday, the Australian master brewer with a menacing Van Dyke, who carries death secrets in him, I would cast the Australian actor Xavier Samuel.
For Eva Krohle, the secular saint and therapist who treats trauma and torture survivors, I would cast Amanda Seyfried.
For Nila Oberoi, the character who lives life without limit and drinks deeply from the well, I’d love to see the role played by Bollywood actress, Rani Mukerji
For Rae Oberoi, the love of Nila’s life, I would cast Arjun Rampal
For Tina Trang, the successful real estate broker whose interest is claiming a piece of the rock, I would cast Kelly Marie Tran.
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