Posts tagged with ‘novels’

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I’ve had this on my to-read shelf for some time (the one in my bedroom, not the one on Goodreads), basically because I thought Housekeeping was a really magical book. But I knew there was a long gap between the two — 24 years, apparently — so I didn’t quite know what to expect. And it is a rather different book; […]

The Book of Khalid by Ameen Rihani

I heard about The Book of Khalid because last year was the centenary of its publication, and there was a burst of publicity to celebrate it as the first Arab-American novel. There’s a fuller biography of Rihani here, but here’s the snapshot version: Ameen Fares Rihani was born in Lebanon, but the family moved to New York […]

Noli Me Tangere by José Rizal

Noli Me Tangere is described on the back cover as ‘The novel that sparked the Philippine revolution’. Which sounds a bit hyperbolic, but apparently the publication of the novel in 1887 was an important moment; even more so, Rizal’s subsequent execution for rebellion, sedition and conspiracy. So it’s a political novel, an unusually early example […]

The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

I’ve just read two books for the Read The World challenge; one of them, Life in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, represents the downside of the challenge. It was somewhat interesting, but to be honest, reading it felt like doing homework. And there have been quite a few books which were either boring or just embarrassingly […]

Only Yesterday by S.Y. Agnon

S.Y. Agnon is apparently a key figure in Israeli literature, and Only Yesterday is very much a novel about Israel. But it is my book from Ukraine for the Read The World challenge. My reasons for assigning the book to Ukraine were basically pragmatic — there wasn’t an alternative from Ukraine which sprang out at me, and […]

Open City by Teju Cole

I ordered this novel because I’d read and enjoyed various bits of Cole’s writing around the internet. I’ll keep this short because I’ve been getting pins and needles in my hands which I suspect is down to spending too much time typing, so I’m trying to rest them a bit. So suffice to say it’s […]

The Maltese Baron… and I Lucian by Francis Ebejer

The Maltese Baron… and I Lucian is my book from Malta for the Read The World challenge. It’s a novel narrated by an old man called Lucian which begins with the return after decades of his childhood friend, the Baron. It is the story of their fractious relationship, and Lucian’s relationship with a woman called […]

Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell

Ragamuffin is my book from Grenada for the Read The World challenge. It’s a science fiction novel about a universe where humans share space with various other species and can travel from world to world via wormholes. Some of them come from a world which was settled by people from the Caribbean, hence the title […]

Shadows of your Black Memory by Donato Ndongo

As part of my ongoing quest to read a book from every country, I picked up Shadows of your Black Memory as a book from Equatorial Guinea. It is a childhood/coming of age novel that sets up the conflict between traditional and western cultures: particularly in this case between traditional religion and Catholicism. Which, at this […]

Warrior King by Sahle Sellassie

Warrior King is one of several books in English by Sahle Sellassie, all now apparently out of print. It wasn’t easy to find much information about them so I just went for the one which was available cheapest second-hand. It is a historical novel, telling the story of the rise of Kassa Hailu, who starts […]

The Hooligan Nights by Clarence Rook

Interesting one, this. Lee Jackson of victorianlondon.org decided to use some of his archive of digitised Victoriana to raise a bit of money to help support the site and put this for sale as a Kindle book for the minimum price of 86p. So I thought I’d give it a try. Rook was apparently a Victorian […]

The King of Kahel by Tierno Monénembo

The King of Kahel is my book from Guinea for the Read The World challenge. It is the first book printed by AmazonCrossing, Amazon’s own publishing imprint specialising in translated literature. They say ‘AmazonCrossing uses customer feedback and other data from Amazon sites to identify exceptional works that deserve a wider, global audience.’ So this book […]

Reading on my phone

Life of Pi by Yann Martel was a free download from Apple as part of a Christmas promotion, and as such it’s the first full-length novel I have read on my iPhone. I’m almost as interested in the reading experience as the book itself. The major conclusion is that the experience is at least good […]

This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

This Earth of Mankind is the first novel of the Buru Quartet, so called because it was composed when Pramoedya Ananta Toer was a political prisoner on Buru Island in the 60s. I say ‘composed’ rather than ‘written’ because the first version of it was told orally to his fellow prisoners. He had apparently just […]

Cities of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif

Cities of Salt is a novel about an unnamed Middle-Eastern country where desert tribesmen have their lives disrupted by the arrival of the oil industry. Think Saudi Arabia. It’s 600 pages long and it’s only the first book in a quintet, so this is storytelling on a grand scale; I have to say I’m seriously impressed […]

Kartography by Kamila Shamsie

Kartography is my book from Pakistan for the Read The World challenge. It’s a novel set in Karachi in the 90s with flashbacks to the 70s and particularly the 1971 civil war when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Raheen and Karim have a tangled relationship which parallels, and is haunted by, the tangled relationships of their […]

Redemption Road by Elma Shaw

Redemption Road is a novel about people dealing with the aftermath of civil war in Liberia. I’ll keep this fairly short because I don’t really enjoy being nasty about books, and this is unfortunately a quite badly written novel. It is full heavy-handed exposition — it has a particularly irritating way of carefully spelling everything […]

Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong

Paradise of the Blind is a Vietnamese novel which was apparently a bestseller in 1988 when it was originally published, in a relatively liberal moment in that country’s recent politics, but has since been banned for Duong’s unflattering portrayal of the Communist party. I’m embarrassed to admit, I had no idea that Vietnam was still […]

The Bleeding of the Stone by Ibrahim Al-Koni

The Bleeding of the Stone is a Libyan novel about Asouf, a Bedouin man living a hermit-like existence out in the desert, herding goats and occasionally guiding foreigners to see the rock paintings on the walls of the wadis. Asouf has a spiritual relationship with the desert and particularly with an animal called the waddan, […]

Happy Bloomsday.

His heart astir he pushed in the door of the Burton restaurant. Stink gripped his trembling breath: pungent meatjuice, slop of greens. See the animals feed. Men, men, men. Perched on high stools by the bar, hats shoved back, at the tables calling for more bread no charge, swilling, wolfing gobfuls of sloppy food, their […]

The Fortunes of Wangrin by Amadou Hampaté Bâ

The Fortunes of Wangrin is my book from Mali for the Read The World challenge. It’s a novel — or at least it seems to be universally described as a novel, despite the fact that Hampaté Bâ says in the Afterword: I don’t know why, even is spite of the specific assertions contained in the Foreword, […]

Treading Air by Jaan Kross

Treading Air is an Estonian novel which, to quote the blurb, ‘follows the life of Ullo Paerand through thirty years of violent upheaval in Estonia’. I’ve actually had it on my to-read list for some time, but to be honest I kept putting it off because the back cover made it sound a bit depressing. […]

Blue Bay Palace by Nathacha Appanah

Blue Bay Palace is my book from Mauritius for the Read The World challenge. Looking over some of my old posts about books, I’ve noticed a tendency to bend over backwards to find nice things to say in an attempt to seem fair-minded, to the point that I re-read the reviews and think they are […]