Tag: Books: Literary

Review: Monsignor Quixote

Posted 2 July, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Monsignor Quixote
By: Graham Greene
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

When Father Quixote, the local priest of the Spanish village of El Toboso who claims ancestry to Cervantes’ fictional Don Quixote, is elevated to the rank of monsignor through a clerical error, he sets out on a journey to Madrid to purchase purple socks appropriate to his new station. Accompanying him on his mission is his best friend, Sancho, the Communist ex-mayor of the village who argues politics and religion with the priest and rescues him from the various troubles his innocence lands him in along the way.

I’ve been meaning to read more books by Graham Greene. My first novel by him was actually The Power and the Glory; read it years ago when my brother had to read it for a high school English class. I had never read anything by him so I borrowed it and found it really intriguing. But I never got around to another book of his until this one. This book caught my attention because of the title; I had read Cervantes’ Don Quixote years ago for an undergrad course but sadly had to rush through it so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted (would like to re-read it this year but I don’t know if I have the time). I thought the premise of this novel was very interesting, so I picked it up 🙂

This book is part of the Everything Espana Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

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Review: A Tale for the Time Being

Posted 16 May, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 10 Comments

A Tale for the Time Being
By: Ruth Ozeki
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

This book has been on my radar a little bit before its release in hardback. I’ve watched as it garnered a lot of praise, ultimately being nominated for a number of book awards including the Man Booker Prize shortlist for 2013. So I’ve been keeping an eye on it; finally I was in Book City recently with my best friend and the paperback was there, and I decided to pick it up =P

May contain some minor spoilers ahead! Also, this review is a bit on the long side (I think)–too many thoughts/feels 😉

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Review: The Lighthouse

Posted 25 April, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Lighthouse
By: Alison Moore
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

On the outer deck of a North Sea ferry stands Futh, a middle-aged and newly separated man, on his way to Germany for a restorative walking holiday. After an inexplicably hostile encounter with a hotel landlord, Futh sets out along the Rhine. As he contemplates an earlier trip to Germany and the things he has done in his life, he does not foresee the potentially devastating consequences of things not done. The Lighthouse, Alison Moore’s first novel, tells the tense, gripping story of a man trying to find himself, but becoming lost.

I find myself drawn quite a bit to the titles featured in the Man Booker 2012 longlist (longlist here). I enjoyed reading Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies (review), Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident (review) and Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home (review) and I have Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry sitting on my Kobo, waiting to be read. There was also this book I picked up last year for my Kobo; the premise, and indeed the title, made it the perfect title to read in the spring time.

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Review: Leaving the Atocha Station

Posted 3 February, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

Leaving the Atocha Station
By: Ben Lerner
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Adam Gordon is a brilliant, if highly unreliable, young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid, struggling to establish his sense of self and his relationship to art. What is actual when our experiences are mediated by language, technology, medication, and the arts? Is poetry an essential art form, or merely a screen for the reader’s projections? Instead of following the dictates of his fellowship, Adam’s “research” becomes a meditation on the possibility of the genuine in the arts and beyond: are his relationships with the people he meets in Spain as fraudulent as he fears his poems are? A witness to the 2004 Madrid train bombings and their aftermath, does he participate in historic events or merely watch them pass him by?

I have been eyeing this novel for the past year or two. I first stumbled across it on the Book Depository while scouring for novels set anywhere in Spain (an endless search, I tell you) and was immediately intrigued by the premise of the novel: set in Madrid + a foreigner living in another country + reflections on art, language and life? Yes, sign me up!

This book is part of the Everything Espana Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

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Review: A Curse on Dostoevsky

Posted 21 January, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

A Curse on Dostoevsky
By: Atiq Rahimi
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Other Press via NetGalley

Reading Dostoevsky in Afghanistan becomes “crime without punishment”

Rassoul remembers reading Crime and Punishment as a student of Russian literature in Leningrad, so when, with axe in hand, he kills the wealthy old lady who prostitutes his beloved Sophia, he thinks twice before taking her money or killing the woman whose voice he hears from another room. He wishes only to expiate his crime and be rightfully punished. Out of principle, he gives himself up to the police. But his country, after years of civil war, has fallen into chaos. In Kabul there is only violence, absurdity, and deafness, and Rassoul’s desperate attempt to be heard turns into a farce.

This is a novel that not only flirts with literature but also ponders the roles of sin, guilt, and redemption in the Muslim world. At once a nostalgic ode to the magic of Persian tales and a satire on the dire reality of now, A Curse on Dostoevsky also portrays the resilience and wit of Afghani women, an aspect of his culture that Rahimi never forgets.

Having studied Russian history and culture, the title of this novel naturally drew my attention. My curiosity was further piqued when I read that this novel was set in Afghanistan; I thought this would make for a rather intriguing read. I was approved of an ARC of this title from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This title will be availabe on 4 March 2014. The following may contain some spoilers!

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