The Shadow King

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Read 18/04/2021-04/05/2021

Rating 4 stars

Hirut, a woman with a long scar “that puckers at the base of her neck and trails over her shoulder like a broken necklace”, waits in Addis Ababa station for a man she hasn’t seen in almost 40 years. They are connected by a secret, one from history, involving Mussolini and Emperor Haile Selassie. Continue reading

The Anarchy: the Relentless Rise of the East India Company

Read 08/02/2021-14/02/2021

Rating 3 stars

For my next read, I travelled from the 17th century and Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and England fighting to control trade across East Asia, as fictionalised in Shōgun, to the 18th century and the rise of a trading corporation with violence in its constitution. William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy is a boiled down history of the East India Company and its violent occupation and control of the Indian subcontinent that laid the foundations of the British Raj.

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Between Beirut and the Moon

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Read 07/12/2020-16/12/2020

Rating 5 stars

Between Beirut and the Moon is Naji Bakhti’s debut novel. Set in Beirut roughly a decade after the civil war, it follows Adam Najjar and his dream of becoming the first Arab astronaut and the first Arab to walk on the moon. Bakhti is a wry observer of the universal oddness of family and the extra complexity that comes with a Lebanese adolescence. Continue reading

Ghosts on the Shore: Travels along Germany’s Baltic Coast

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Read 23/11/2020-06/12/2020

Rating 5 stars

Ghosts on the Shore is a travel book partly inspired by family history. Paul Scraton is a British writer who has lived in Berlin since the early 2000s. His wife grew up in the GDR and spent her early years on the Baltic Coast. Scraton became fascinated by this part of Germany, in part thanks to his wife Katrin’s family photographs and her childhood memories, but also because of the Baltic Coast’s place in the wider history and mythology of Germany. And so he decided to take a trip. Continue reading

Summer

Read 28/10/2020-09/11/2020

Rating 4 stars

Summer is the final book in Ali Smith’s ambitious Seasonal Quartet. It’s about change; the necessity of it so that things can be made new; the opportunity it offers for us to redefine ourselves in response to it; the choices we make and the consequences they hold. It’s also a drawing together of threads that travel through the other books, with returning characters and crossing themes. Continue reading

The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons

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Read 28/08/2020-30/08/2020

Rating 4 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month.

Goli Taraghi is a popular Iranian writer, a best seller in Iran whose stories have appeared in a number of anthologies. The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons is a collection of her short fiction, her first collection published in English. The translation is by Sara Khalili. It brings together ten stories about Iran under the last Shah, and life in Tehran and in exile after the Revolution. Continue reading

The Men Who Stare at Goats

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Read 01/03/2020-08/03/2020

Rating 5 stars

Read for Dewithon 2020.

The Men Who Stare at Goats is a book and a film. I knew when I picked it up that I hadn’t read the book. It was on my To Read pile after all. The film is one of those that I think I’ve seen, because it has George Clooney in it and I love Clooney, but I haven’t watched it yet.

I decided to shuttle the book to the top of the pile because it was Saint David’s Day when I finished my last book.

Over on Book Jotter, Paula is running the second Dewithon, a reading challenge that celebrates Welsh writers. It starts on Saint David’s Day. There’s a group read, which sounds wonderful, but I’ve banned myself from buying books and my local library doesn’t have a copy for me to borrow. So I’m ploughing my own furrow and knocking a title off my To Read pile. Continue reading

Abigail

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Read 23/02/2020-01/03/2020

Rating 5 stars

How do you solve a problem like Georgina? If you’re General Vitay of the Royal Hungarian Army, you send her to a Calvinist girls’ boarding school. 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