From Japanese literature to the history of Serbia via the aftermath of war in Sierra Leone, this has been a good month’s reading for me. Here’s a roundup of the books I’ve read in February.
The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata
This was my read for this year’s Japanese Literature Challenge. I plan to write a full review in the next week or two, but I found this a beautiful novel by a Nobel Prize winning writer that raises lots of questions about the role of ageing parents in the dysfunctional lives of their children.
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
Aminatta Forna is one of my favourite writers; I reviewed her latest novel Happiness on the blog in 2018 and wrote about The Hired Man for a Canadian lit mag a few years earlier. The Memory of Love is probably her most famous novel, and it was a wonderful read, full of interesting characters and powerful insights into the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Gypsy Folk Tales by Frances Hindes Groome
This was one of those cheap Kindle ebooks based on an obscure, out-of-print 19th-century book. I found the stories interesting, but the formatting and copy editing of the ebook edition were bad, and that made it hard to enjoy the book.
The Heart Of The Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain by Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe
This reappraisal of British history from the oft-neglected point of view of Black women was first published in 1985 but remains very relevant today. I liked the introductory chapter tracing Black women’s role in British history and then the analysis of the contemporary situation through the authors’ research combined with oral history. The use of “we” to describe the experiences of Black British women was very effective.
The History of Serbia by Cedomir Antic
I found this a good overview of Serbian history from Neolithic times to the present day. Serbia didn’t exist as an independent state for most of that time, but the book does a good job of charting the main events on the territory under Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule, as well as under independent Serbian rulers during their most powerful time in the 14th century and again in recent times.
The standout book for me this month was The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. I’ll read pretty much anything she puts out, and this is right up there with her best work, although I think I still marginally prefer The Hired Man.
What did you read this month? Any favourites or disappointments you’d like to share? Head over to Feed Your Fiction Addiction to see more book bloggers’ month-end roundups.