The Canticle of Ibiza

Fiction - Literary
390 Pages
Reviewed on 05/26/2024
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Author Biography

Justin Kurian has a B.A. in American Literature and Studies from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He worked as a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan. Justin has also lived and worked in numerous countries in Europe for over a decade, including England and Romania and Spain, and currently resides in New York.
The Sunlight Lies Beyond, his debut novel, is a dramatic tale set in Eastern Europe in Romania after the fall of Communism and received excellent reviews.
His newest novel, The Canticle of Ibiza, a magical and darkly humorous tale of an American searching for his lost friend and former mentor on the mysterious Balearic Islands in Spain.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Golder Hazelton for Readers' Favorite

Everything that happens in Justin Kurian’s The Canticle of Ibiza does so in an ever-present miasma of the mystical. Set, as the title suggests, on the enchanting isle of Ibiza in the late 1980s, this fascinating novel focuses on John, a recently divorced and recently unemployed hedge fund manager who becomes disillusioned with his life and livelihood. He sells his Manhattan apartment and takes off for Ibiza in hopes of a fresh start and of tracking down an old friend with whom he had a shared artistic vision and whom he deeply disappointed fifteen years prior when he decided to pursue his career in finance. As we experience John’s initiation into Ibiza’s eclectic society and follow him on the quest to find his long-lost friend, we also experience a unique armchair tour of what most certainly must be one of the world’s most exotic and breathtaking destinations.

The cast of characters is colorful and fiercely free-thinking in offbeat and delightful ways. The characters are drawn in marvelously inventive detail, the dialogue is pure genius, and the author has a rare and magical way of leading his readers into events and conversations in the most unexpected and unforeseeable ways, making for tantalizing surprises on every page. By the end of the novel, readers will feel as if they have made new friends of their own. The writing style is masterful, with many uncommon words perfectly positioned to let readers savor the uniqueness of the narrative. Justin Kurian’s The Canticle of Ibiza has it all: adventure, romance, humor, drama, magic, mystery, and even a life lesson or two worth remembering. In short, it is a unique and wonderful reading experience, ideal for anyone seeking an imaginative escape from the mundane world.

K.C. Finn

The Canticle of Ibiza is penned by author Justin Kurian in the literary and drama genres. The plot follows John's journey through the hedonistic landscape of Ibiza, Spain in 1988, as he searches for his estranged friend Gunther amidst villa parties, hidden temples, and artist communes. Along the way, he encounters a diverse cast of characters and begins to uncover mystical elements of the island and life itself. Amidst the backdrop of Ibiza's vibrant culture, John grapples with his past and present, navigating salvation, love, and self-discovery in a quest that could either lead to redemption or destruction. Through John's journey, the novel explores themes of identity, redemption, and the search for meaning in a world of decadence and chaos, and these themes build wonderfully as the plot gets more and more complex.

Author Justin Kurian crafts a striking novel that’s like stepping into a mesmerizing dreamscape. The vivid descriptions and vibrant characters brought the island to life from the very first page, settling into a steady pace and a slow burn that’s in keeping with the literary style. This is very much a character-led drama, and the author has a real knack for narrative control as he allows you gently into John’s world and paints each scene around him with just the right sense of atmosphere and mood. Kurian's narrative expertly blends elements of adventure, spirituality, and romance for a realistic feel, then adds sudden twists that are beautifully ethereal and poetic to take us into the abstract of John’s mind. Kurian's prose is both lyrical and evocative, transporting us to the sun-soaked beaches and mystical landscapes of Ibiza as if we’re right there looking over John’s shoulder. Overall, The Canticle of Ibiza is a captivating and thought-provoking tale that lingers in the mind long after the final page, and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Romuald Dzemo

The Canticle of Ibiza by Justin Kurian is a mesmerizing blend of mystery, adventure, and self-discovery set against the backdrop of the enchanting island of Ibiza. Set in 1988, the novel follows John as he embarks on a quest to find his estranged friend Gunther amidst Ibiza's hedonistic villa parties and spiritual enclaves. Along the way, John encounters a colorful cast of characters, from jaded hippies to international DJs, each contributing to his self-reflection and personal growth. Through John's exploration of these hidden gems, readers are treated to a deeper understanding of the island's mystical allure and transformative power.

Justin Kurian’s vivid prose and terrific descriptions bring to life the vibrant landscapes, hidden beaches, and eclectic characters that populate this Mediterranean paradise. The richly drawn settings, from the bustling streets of Santa Eulària to the tranquil shores of Cala Salada, are fascinating, and the author captures Ibiza's dual identity, juxtaposing its crowded tourist hubs with secluded coves accessible only through winding paths. The characters in The Canticle of Ibiza are equally compelling, each with unique quirks and motivations; from the enigmatic Graham Fogg to the manipulative Angela, Kurian creates a diverse cast that reflects human relationships and the search for connection in an ever-changing world. John is a character burdened by past regrets, and the author explores his inner world as an expert. The lyrical writing is peppered with beautiful descriptions and intriguing dialogues. While this novel is John's story, it is also the story of a place, Ibiza, written as a character in its own right, one that will enchant any reader.

Grant Leishman

The Canticle of Ibiza by Justin Kurian is a wonderfully delightful scenic tour of the search for direction and soul appeasement in the face of today’s realities. Gunther and John were truly soulmates at university. Their grandiose plan when they graduated was to jointly create a philosophical and religious journal that would genuinely change the world and point its readers in the direction of true enlightenment. The summer after graduation went awry for the pair. John found himself being seduced into a corporate position as a hedge fund manager. The worst thing for their dreams was that John discovered he was truly good at it and the money, the power, and the notoriety became his driving force. Ignoring Gunther and all their plans, John continued to excel in the corporate world for the next fifteen years. Now, after finally finding the courage to walk away, he is on a search for his old colleague Gunther. This search will take him to the beautiful island of Ibiza where hopefully he can find Gunther and seek redemption and forgiveness for his misdeeds and loss of direction.

This is a delightful read. The Canticle of Ibiza is one of those wonderful books that once you delve into it, you will be seduced by the author’s inimitable, descriptive style, the underlying theme of life’s purpose, and the incredible depth and variety of characters that you meet along the way in Ibiza. You won’t want to stop reading at any point and I did read this book in one enthralled session. What I particularly loved was Justin Kurian’s incredible character development but, more than that, just the incredible supporting actors he created to assist or sometimes impede John’s search for the elusive Gunter. The treacherous Angela; the beautiful, cultured Diana; the timid and cuckolded brilliant sculptor Andre; the hippie artist Klav, his wife and son, and so many more wonderful characters all added brilliantly to the journey and the narrative. The author’s description of Ibiza, especially the remote, unexplored parts, will give the reader a deep understanding of nature and the beauty of this wonderful island. Perhaps what I will take away most from this story are the thoughts and philosophies of John and Gunther that are so beautifully woven into the story that they seem natural and effortless. I love a book that educates as well as entertains and this book does the job perfectly by subtly dropping gems of thought, philosophy, and life into a wonderful tale of relationships. I loved this read and highly recommend it.

Gaius Konstantine

Regret is a terrible feeling. And when life sours, it can lead to despair. However, it can also be the catalyst for redemption. Justin Kurian's novel, The Canticle Of Ibiza, tells the story of a man who refuses to accept the downfall of his life. John Balkus is successful in the financial world. He is the kind of guy who always has something to do and somewhere to be without enjoying where he's at. Rather than continue his spiral into a living oblivion, John makes a move and tosses it all away to search for a friend he hasn't seen in 15 years. His search lands him in Ibiza, where adventures of a different kind await as he meets many people ranging from good-natured hippies to unrealized artists and psychopaths. As John tries to resurrect a dream from the past, he discovers that when you go on a quest to find something you lost, you may also discover what you did not seek.   

The Canticle Of Ibiza by Justin Kurian is a seductively captivating novel that revolves around a man's attempts to correct his past mistakes. The plot is intriguing and has a calm yet alluring quality that will subtly mesmerize you. However, the exceptional aspects of the book are the underlying themes that focus on loyalty and the appreciation of life. The novel presents a magnificent contrast between living like a zombie and being truly alive. Character development is top-notch, with the intelligent, noble, yet flawed John and the tragic Angela, who reminded me of Nora Desmond, being the highlights. Even minor characters are well-developed and have unique personalities. Overall, The Canticle Of Ibiza is a deeply immersive and multi-genre tale to remind us that while we cannot change the past, we can shape the future. A very enjoyable book with a rich and descriptive vocabulary that caught me pleasantly off-guard.