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The Expats
A Novel
Chris Pavone
read on October 11, 2017

We picked up this book three years ago, before moving to Luxembourg, since apparently that’s something that all the American expats need to do. I never read it while there, but now upon leaving, felt obligated. Plus, it’s a great stupid/fun novel for vacation. It lived up to that expectation. A fun page turner, but the most likable bits were the descriptions of little Luxembourg. Pavone clearly has lived there, and nailed the feel of the place, while including gratuidous descriptions of specific locations that the locals would know. It’s fun to see your little nook described perfectly in a book.

A few items hit home. Of course, the Grund:

There were a handful of pubs clustered around the bridge in Grund, each with its own discrete micro-atmosphere of smoke and noise, the sound of TV rugby in one, a Euro-pop jukebox in another, sloppily drunk teenagers in a third, where a sign clearly prohibited entry by anyone under sixteen years old, thus attracting every sixteen-year-old in the city. Kate walked across the bridge, entered the long well-lit tunnel cut deep into the rock upon which the haute ville was built, the rough-hewn walls hung with derivative art, the faint stench of urine, as in every urban tunnel...

And...

This is the expat life: you never know when someone you see every day is going to disappear forever, instantly transmogrifying into a phantom. Before long you won’t be able to remember her last name, the color of her eyes, the grades that her children were in. You can’t imagine not seeing her tomorrow. You can’t imagine you yourself being one of those people, someone who one day just vanishes. But you are.