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Friday, November 10, 2017

*****Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann

Irish Literature

McCann has a sometimes witty, lyrical, captivating and multilayered narrative. He writes with depth and an ironical sense of tranquility. I am embarrassed to admit that this is the first book of McCann’s I have ever read. It will not be the last. He is definitely an author I will continue to explore!

Monday, October 2, 2017

***The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy

●Published 2017
●American Literature
● Early Reviewer

This coming of age war story is a powerful page turner. While it successfully deals with Holland’s invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany and the loyalty struggles the Dutch were faced with, it also addresses the unspeakable human savagery that takes place during war. As I read this book, I was reminded of a statement I heard on Ken Burns' ongoing Vietnam documentary (paraphrased): Tigers kill, but only to eat, where humans kill simply to murder. No one wins during war, as this novel aptly reveals. A worthwhile read.

*****Chronicles of a Blood Merchant by Yu Hua

●1995 original publication date
●Chinese Literature 
●Translated from the Chinese by Andrew F. Jones

*****Death in Spring by Merce Rodoreda

  • Merce Rodoreda: 1908-1983
  • Catalonian Literature
  • Translated from the Catalan by Martha Tennent
  • First published in Catalonia 1986; in English 2009

****Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa

● Translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts
● First published in English 2017
● Japanese Literature 
● Early Reviewer

Sweet Bean Paste is an unassuming and passionate novel that successfully attempts to inform all the senses while telling a dark cultural tale and a story - philosophy -  about life and human nature.  With its straightforward narrative, one must look deeper to find the subtle complexities that make this book a flavorful gem. A poignant and artful read. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

****Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship, by Michelle Kuo

An American Memoir, 2017 Early Reviewer

In Reading with Patrick the author speaks of a hard-learned lesson - that one cannot change the world, or even one person, permanently. Change, or the answer to change - from poverty, violence, drug-addiction and familial dysfunction to inept schools, etc. - is a multifaceted problem with no single solution. Helping to effect change is imperative, it is our expectations that can throw us off balance. Kuo, as a young adult, finds this out and shares her experiences along the way. A thought-provoking relevant read.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Books Read January 1 - June 31, 2017

***** Little Life,  by Hanya Yanagihara, 2016, American Literature 

*****Rock, Paper, Scissors by Naja Marie Aidt, 2015, translated from the Danish by K.E. Semmel, Danish Literature

***Miller's Valley, by Anna Quinlan, 2016, American Fiction

*****The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault, 2017, translated from the French by Liedewy Hawke, Early Reviewer, French Canadian Literature 

***And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini, 2013, audiobook,  South Asian Literature

**Fever Dream: A Novelby Samantha Schweblin, 2017, translated from the Spanish by Liedewy Hawke,  2017, Argentine Literature

***The Boat Rocker, by Ha Jin (pen name of Jin Xuefei), 2016, Chinese American Literature 

****The Patriots by Sana Krasikov, 2017, Early Reviewer, Ukrainian Literature 

**A Free Life, by Ha Jin (pen name of Jin Xuefei)2007, digital audio book, Chinese American Literature

****The Postman's Fiancé, by Denis Thériault, to be published 06/2017, translated from the French by John Cullen, Early Reviewer, French Canadian Literature

****Last Bus to Wisdom: A Novel, by Ivan Doig, 2015, American Literature

***The Color of Our Sky: A Novel, by Amita Trasi, 2017, Early Reviewer, Indian Fiction

****Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance, 2017, American Memoir

***Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter,  by Kate Clifford Larson,  2015, American Biography 

*****A Strangeness In My Mind, by Orhan Pamuk, Translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap, 2015, Turkish Literature 

***The Leavers, A Novel, by Lisa Ko, 2017, Early Reviewer, American Fiction

***Pax,  by Sara Penny packer, 2016, Children'should Literature,  American Literature 

*Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple, 2016, American Fiction

*****Aracoeli, by Elsa Morante, 1982, Italian Literature

***News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, 2016, American Fiction

***The Windfall, by Diksha Basu, 2017, Early Reviewer, Indian Fiction

*****Death in Spring, a Novel, by Merce Rodoreda, 1986, Translated from the Catalan by Martha Tennent, Catalonian Literature

Currently Reading Homegoing by Yaa GyasI, 2016, American Literature 

Currently Reading Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami, audio book, 2017, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen, Japanese Literature

Currently Reading Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, by Samuel Richardson, 1748, (from 2014 Reading List), English Literature

Friday, June 23, 2017

***The Windfall by Diksha Basu

LibraryThing.como Early Reviewer

The Windfall is a lighthearted comedic satire that has some fun portraying the social absurdities and ironies that can make up neighborly life – primarily the need to keep up with the Jones’, but in India. With technology manufacturing overnight millionaires, the protagonist being one of them, financial dreams are achieved, but unexpected –self-imposed - difficulties ensue and chaos dominates the family’s newly acquired moneyed life. Expectations are key to the family’s relative problems.  In the end, the impulse to compete and put on social airs is relatively overcome, moral and psychological truths are realized and life achieves some semblance of balance. The Windfall is a humorous story wrapped up in the comfort of familial and neighborly bonds.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

*****Aracoeli by Elsa Morante

•Translation Literature - Italian
•Translated from the Italian by William Weaver
•First published in 1982; 1985 published in English
•Author's final novel (1912-1985)

Complex dreamlike imagery fills this lovely novel, as does the author's beautiful use of language. Kudos, too, to the translator for capturing Morante's breathless narrative.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

*Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

With all the great writers in this world, one must ask how a book like this winds up being published.