The Diary of a Bookseller

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Read 06/09/2019-08/09/2019

Rating 5 stars

Weezelle at Words and Leaves recommended Shaun Bythell’s memoir of running The Book Shop in Wigtown before I’d been to Wigtown or knew The Book Shop existed. Indeed, when I visited by accident in 2018 on the way home from a holiday the other side of the Galloway Forest, diverted by the Misogynist in Chief sojourning at his gaudy golf shack, I didn’t even realise that the book Weezelle had recommended was about that shop. Continue reading

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My Mortal Enemy

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Read 03/09/2019-04/09/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read for the 20 Books of Summer readathon

My Mortal Enemy is a very short novella, more an extended short story. In it, Willa Cather’s narrating alter ego, this time a young woman called Nellie, remembers a woman she first encountered as a teenager. Continue reading

Kintu

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Read 25/06/2019-05/07/2019

Rating 5 stars

I went to see Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi speak about her new book, a collection of short stories called Manchester Happened, not too long ago. At the event, she also spoke about her novel Kintu and the struggle she’d had to get it published. She talked about the lack of interest from British publishers and how it took the novel being published in the USA and being a success there for it to be picked up in the UK. It was an eye-opener to hear her say that the reason no publisher in Britain would take a chance on the book was because they didn’t believe that there was enough of an audience for the work.

Kintu is a masterpiece. A sprawling epic, it’s divided into six Books, each focusing on a different descendant of the first Kintu. Continue reading

Plastic Emotions

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Read 16/06/2019-24/06/2019

Rating 4 stars

Plastic Emotions is my second book towards the 20 Books of Summer readathon, and it’s perfect summer reading, full of sultry tropical heat and drowsy meanders through the glare of the afternoon sun.

With this, her second novel, Shiromi Pinto has woven a narrative that mingles fact with fiction to shine a light on an almost forgotten woman. It’s a book that made me want to bunk off work so that I could immerse myself in its world. Continue reading

Dendera

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Read 29/05/2019-02/06/2019

Rating 2 stars

I first found out about Dendera at an author event at my local Waterstone’s bookshop. I’d gone along with a friend to hear Sayaka Murata speak about her novel Convenience Store Woman. For me, the presence of Yūya Satō and discussion of his novel was incidental. The host of the event thought otherwise, talking more to Satō and with more interest in Satō’s book. Satō came across as an affable chap, pleased with his sort of morality tale, sort of horror story, and I thought I’d give Dendera a try. Continue reading

The Shape of the Ruins

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Read 18/05/2019-29/05/2019

Rating 5 stars

The Shape of the Ruins is the story of the writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez and his involvement with two men who are obsessed by the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948. Gaitán is real. Vásquez is real. I don’t know whether Carlos Carballo or Dr Francisco Benavides, the man who introduces Vásquez to Carballo, are real. It’s a novel about truth and the multiple truths of history. It’s a novel about how politically charged events can have decades of reverberation, affecting the lives of those who are unaware of the origin moment. It’s a novel of connections obscured by the twists and turns in their paths. Ultimately, it’s a novel about power and its influence over truth. Continue reading

White Teeth

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Read 20/03/2019-27/03/2019

Rating 2 stars

White Teeth is Zadie Smith’s debut novel. It won the Whitbread First Novel award in 2000. It was touted as a new writing for a new millennium.

I tried to read White Teeth once before, because people raved about it, Continue reading