Posts tagged Reading

“H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald: Review

H is for Hawk is a beautiful evocation of grief and the way in which the sudden death of a loved on can rip away your sense of control over the world, reminding you that you are powerless in the face of mortality and that everything you love and cling to is transitory.

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“Tram 83” by Fiston Mwanza Mujila: Review

It isn’t every day that you get to read a Congolese novel in English. In fact, the last time it happened, the country was still called Zaire. Tram 83 is an innovative literary novel that also deals with issues like neocolonialism and the scramble for Congolese resources.

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Review of Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones

Did you know that there’s an Albanian tradition in which, if there are no male heirs, a woman can choose to become a man, as long as she swears herself to virginity for life? Neither did I until I read Sworn Virgin, a fascinating novel by Albanian writer Elvira Dones, translated into English and published in 2014 by And Other Stories (a wonderful not-for-profit, largely reader-funded UK publisher). I’ve been interested in Albanian literature ever since I discovered Ismail Kadare (who wrote the foreword for this book) many years ago, and… Read More

Completism

Can you recommend a good book by an author whose surname begins with Q, U, X or Y? It’s a strange question, I know. The thing is, I’ve been documenting all the books I’ve reviewed on this site since it started ten years ago, and I’ve organised them alphabetically, and… Yeah, OK, I admit it. I’m a frustrated librarian. In another lifetime, I would have loved to spend my days quietly shuffling books around from shelf to shelf in a library or bookshop. My choices have taken me down a… Read More

Review: The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

The self-fulfilling prophecy is an ancient and fascinating component of literature. From Oedipus to Macbeth and beyond, characters have wrestled with disturbing or tempting prophecies, often with tragic results. As we survey the wreckage of their lives, we wonder to what extent the events were indeed fated or foreseen, and to what extent the characters’ own actions brought about their downfall. It’s a great device for exploring the concept of free will. A recent addition to the literature is The Fishermen by Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma. In a way, this is a simple… Read More

Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika

I read this book back in the spring, before it got shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and got a fair bit of attention. But, as you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t been blogging very regularly, so I’m only writing about it now. What I liked about Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun was the way it explored the contrast between the internal and external life of its main character. We all have an internal life, don’t we? A set of memories and desires and fantasies that often don’t bear much… Read More

Review of Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen

Imagine Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Hunter Thompson engaging in a wild, drug-fuelled orgy somewhere out in the Arizona desert, and by some mystical process conceiving a daughter who then turns around and gives them the finger, inverting their male-dominated world and creating a road trip novel for the 21st century, complete with a strong female lead who might have made a great companion for Sal and Dean if they hadn’t been so busy gunning for girls and turning their patronizing male gazes on beautiful honey-haired darlings. Actually, don’t imagine… Read More