Six Degrees of Separation – from It to The True Deceiver

 

December’s Six Degrees, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite And Best, starts with It by Stephen King.

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Reblog: thoughts by Miri on The Age of American Unreason

I’m doing something that I rarely do. I’m reblogging something I’ve just read that is an excellent analysis of why US politics and, in many ways, western democracy in general is in the state it currently is.

The Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby

Miri explores interesting non-fiction and writes thoughtful and thought-provoking analyses of what she’s read. If you’re anything like me and enraged by a gamut of injustices, chances are you’re also something like Miri and should subscribe to her blog.

I’m currently reading Laurie Penny’s Bitch Doctrine (review coming soon), and a lot of the ground Miri covers in this blog post chimes with the things Penny says in her essays.

Let’s hear it for the women who use their reason to question the world around them.

Random Thoughts: Writers in Translation

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Serendipity. I prefer it to coincidence. Tonight, I’ve been catching up on the blogs I follow, and discovered that Gwen has merged two into one. That led me to this page, and a book list I’ve never encountered before. Reading through the list, I noticed that there were echoes of Boxall’s 1001 Books list, and that more than 80% of the authors are male. This reminded me of the conversation that I had yesterday with my best friend as we browsed books in a bookshop on the inaugural National Bookshop Day. My best friend had chosen a couple of translated books by women authors and it jogged my memory that I’d decided to read more books by women authors that originate in a language other than my own. At the end of August, I had discovered that there was such a thing as Women in Translation month, and that it had been going on all month. It was this article in The Guardian that enlightened me, and led me to another in which women translators talk about their favourite fellow women translators who translate women authors into English. I now have the beginnings of a list of my own, thanks to Sian Cain’s Guardian article and to browsing the shelves and displays in the bookshop.

This is my list so far:

Paulina Chiziane
Conceição Evaristo
Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream
Lydie Salvayre, Cry Mother Spain
Colette
Hilda Hilst, With My Dog-Eyes
Mariana Enriquez, Things we lost in the fire
Laura Restrepo, Delirium

Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments for women authors that you’ve read in translation.

The Lowland

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Read 22/11/2014-28/11/2014

Rating: 3 stars

I just read Erik’s review of The Lowland over on The Past Due Book Review, and can’t believe I didn’t post my review when I started this blog. Perhaps it was one of my random thought offers that I didn’t think worthy of a second airing beyond LibraryThing. Or perhaps it was because I hadn’t jotted anything down in my book thoughts notebook on Evernote.

Anyway, here’s what I thought at the time. A few weeks later, I read Rohanton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, which I much preferred.

As I started to read this book, I didn’t think I was going to like it. The characters seemed so blank, so disinterested in their surroundings, so unwilling to say what they were really thinking and feeling. They float through their lives, occasionally making momentous decisions that never really live up to their promise. There was nothing particularly to grab onto with any of them, nothing that made me warm to them or want to root for them as life happened around them.

The book is a sequence of events, sometimes recounted in a linear way, sometimes using flashbacks and multi-character perspective. It never really gets going, it jumps around too much, and doesn’t have anything striking to say. Despite beginning at a time of civil unrest in India, despite portraying the lives of a fragmented family.

And yet, by the end of the book I didn’t want it to end. I’d spent everyday time with the characters and they felt like neighbours I might nod to in the street. Nobody I would sit down with for a cup of tea and a chat, but people I would miss seeing around. The final chapter, told from the perspective of the character I was most interested in, but who doesn’t really get a voice in the rest of the novel, was sad. All of that, and for what, he seemed to be saying. I didn’t know, either.