Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales, by Eleanor Bluestein

by Jessica Anderson on April 1, 2009

in Book Events, Fiction, Giveaways, Review Copy, Reviews

Title: Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales
Author: Eleanor Bluestein
Pages: 234
Publisher: BkMk Press
Copyright: 2008
Format: Paperback
Rating: [rating:4]


I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

Welcome to today’s stop on Eleanor Bluestein‘s blog tour for her debut book, Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales!  Today’s post is my review of Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales.  Then, Ms. Bluestein will be back here at The Bluestocking Society on Monday for an interview, so be sure to stop by then.

I really really enjoyed this book/collection.  The book consists of ten unrelated stories.  Well, unrelated except each takes place in the fictitious Middle Eastern country of Ayama Na.  Each of the stories completely drew me in and left me changed in some small way.  From the very first story “Pineapple Wars,” I was compelled by this Ayama Na place with its cultural moorings shifting in a globalized world.

The range of Bluestein’s imagination and research is remarkable.  From “Hamburger School” with its exploration of abuse and suicide at a local McDonald’s to “AIBO or Love at First Sight” with its rural location and ruminations on the love of gadgets, there is something to be learned and appreciated in each tale.  “North of the Faro” has a mystical realism about it and “The Cut the Crap Machine” explores the relationship between two of Ayama Na’s remaining writers.  “Skin Deep” explores one young woman’s beauty pageant career and “The Blanks” examines the tourist trade.  I could go on and on, but you just need to read them.  

Other than Ayama Na, the theme that runs through the collection is Bluestein’s writing.  It’s impeccable.  Here’s a taste from “Tea,” the concluding and titular story:

   “The customers in this cafe don’t order,” Kol said.  
   “What are you talking about?”
   “See the elderly couple over there?  They own the cafe and they decide what to serve each customer who comes in.”
   “You’re kidding, right?” Pania twisted her head and lifted a ficus branch.  At a short end of the rectangular room an old woman with pure white hair stood at a sink rinsing suds from yellow mugs, which across the counter from her, seated on a three-legged mahogany stool, an elderly gentleman with a narrow gray braid that hung halfway down his knobby back read a book propped against an espresso machine.
   “When they have a moment to spare, they’ll observe us, and based on their observations and intuition they’ll choose the appropriate beverages for us.”
   She stared at him, speechless.
   “For example,” Kol said, “if it’s early morning and a patron stumbles in half asleep, they might serve an espresso with double shots of caffeine. For a cranky child, a mug of hot chocolate and a rice cake. For the agitated, a soothing green or jasmine tea. I imagine we’ll be served tea, but perhaps a surprise. Regardless, they’ll bring what we need.”

I’m just delighted with this debut effort from Eleanor Bluestein. I hope that she continues writing. I know I’ll be eagerly reading any future offerings.

To win a copy of this delightful book, see the giveaway details below. Or, even better, you can purchase a copy at any of the stores below.

Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales, by Eleanor Bluestein [rating:4]

GIVEAWAY. Ms. Bluestein and TLC Book Tours were kind enough to send me an extra copy of Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales to giveaway to one lucky reader. To enter just leave a comment on this post. Post about the giveaway on your blog and leave a link in the comments to your post for three extra entries. U.S. and Canadian addresses only please. Random.org will select a winner on Monday, which will be announced in Ms. Bluestein’s guest post. Good luck!

Blog Tour Stops:
Wednesday, April 1st: The Bluestocking Society
Monday, April 6th: Bookstack
Wednesday, April 8th: Nerd’s Eye View
Friday, April 10th: Lotus Reads
Monday, April 13th: 8Asians
Wednesday, April 15th: 1979 Semi-finalist…
Friday, April 17th: Ramya’s Bookshelf
Monday, April 20th: Feminist Review
Thursday, April 23rd: Trish’s Reading Nook
Tuesday, April 28th: Medieval Bookworm
Wednesday, April 29th: Savvy Verse and Wit

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Meryl April 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

This looks like it will be good–definitely going on my “to read” list!


WordLily April 1, 2009 at 8:27 am

I’ve been hearing good things about this one; I’d love to win it!


mindy April 1, 2009 at 9:08 am

sounds great thanks for the giveaway


sarah April 1, 2009 at 9:39 am

Thanks for the great giveaway!


Joy April 1, 2009 at 11:47 am

Oh! I’d love to win this collection. The give-away will be posted near the top of the right-hand side of my blog.



Joy April 1, 2009 at 11:48 am

My other post didn’t appear, so I’m trying again.

Oh! I’d love to win this collection. The give-away will be posted near the top of the right-hand side of my blog.



LisaMM April 1, 2009 at 3:01 pm

No need to enter my name in the contest, but just wanted to say the review was great! It sounds like an excellent collection.


Christina Brunetti April 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

I would love to read this.

Thanks so much


Suzanne Delzio April 1, 2009 at 6:20 pm

I loved this book because I learned new stuff about third world countries and people, but the relationship issues were so universal: being a sister, a son, a success, a failure. . .


Crystal April 1, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Sounds like a good one. I’ll add it to my to read list.


Nicole April 1, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Sounds wonderful. My reading over the past year has included a lot from the Middle East.


ikkinlala April 2, 2009 at 12:49 am

This sounds like a really interesting book.


Eleanor April 2, 2009 at 8:03 am

Thanks to all for your interest and enthusiasm for these Ayama Na tales. Nicole, they are probably more Far Eastern than Middle east, but they could give the feel of war-ravaged, recovering and modernizing countries anywhere.


Bookfool, aka Nancy April 2, 2009 at 8:23 am

Oh, sounds wonderful. Please add me to the drawing!

bookfoolery AT yahoo DOT com


Natasha @ Maw Books April 2, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Sounds great! I’d love to enter this one.


MM April 2, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Please enter me. I hope to win this fantastic book!


Teddy April 2, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Wonderful review! This sounds like a lovely book of short fiction. I added it to my TBR.


Deborah R April 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I’m not usually inspired to read short stories, but your review made me curious and interested. Thanks!


kim v April 5, 2009 at 8:42 am

Sounds great.
Thanks for the giveaway!


beth shepherd April 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Thank you for a great giveaway. I would love to win. tHank you


claire April 29, 2009 at 8:48 am

I would really love to win this.. thanks for the giveaway!
dreamsongpoem at gmail dot com


claire April 29, 2009 at 8:52 am

Whoops! Sorry! I didn’t realize this was over. :D


Valerie May 1, 2009 at 1:46 pm

sounds enjoyable


Kim V May 1, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Sounds great!
Thanks for the giveaway!


Deborah R May 3, 2009 at 11:27 am

I’m very interested in what seems to be such a delightful collection of short stories. Thanks for the chance!


Karen May 5, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I’d love to win this short story collection! It sounds like a very interesting read.


Jessica May 5, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Thank you all for your interest, but this giveaway ended on April 6, 2009.


gautami tripathy June 8, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Wonderful review. I enjoyed the short stories too!

I linked yours to mine. Here is my review:

Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales


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