I’ve had Colson’s Underground Railroad on my tbr for more than two years so when I found this book in my mail box, I started it immediately but had I known how much it would tire me, I would’ve waited a few days at-least. (Not that that would change the experience)
#theguywiththebookreview presents The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead sent to me by Little Brown (Thank you!)
Based and inspired by the history of Arthur G. Dozier School for reform of Boys (I recommend you read about it if you don’t know it’s history) The Nickel Boys was one of the best starts of any book I’ve read in recent times. Intrigued and almost invested in the story of Elwood Curtis, a black kid who dreamed of college education and a better future in a time when America was as divided as it has ever been, I had to stop and reflect at the injustice faced by so many in America’s history.
How a kid with so much promise ends up in a correctional facility which is infamous for abuse and violence against the kids, for no fault of his own, is worth more than what The Nickel Boys gave.
Filled with characters that have nothing to do with the plot and in no way move the book forward, it felt like Colson had included a plethora of them to make the books impact stronger, by giving names and introductions. Sadly it didn’t work for me, it just created more branches that were not needed. Character development was not something expected from any of these almost random characters but I felt that Elwood’s character should have been given more focus.
Somewhere I feel an all knowing narrative would’ve worked better, and by part two of the book it was slowly becoming a extremely tiresome to read.
Two instances of the book will catch your attention, the Encyclopedia in part one and the Lashes in part two. Both should have had a bigger emotional impact but somehow felt like they were trying too hard.
By the end of part three where the book takes a really big turn and jumps way ahead, we learn about the effects the school has had on the boys. This would’ve been my favorite part but it seemed like there was forced purpose behind the ending. Colson wanted to end the book a certain way and he wrote FOR the book and not the story.
There is a unexpected twist at the end which does change a lot of the experience but by then it was too late for me to like it.
An interesting book, a great conversation generator as well. I guess when we think about books with racism at its core, we expect to be moved a bit more, maybe that’s our fault as readers, maybe that’s just reality.
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Hey guys! We’re back with another chapter which I’m really excited about! I’ve had chats randomly with Sophia (You might know her as TeaCupBookWorld on Instagram) over the last few months and recently she was kind enough to give us some of her time and write up a recommendation for Luxembourg. I honestly had no idea about the place except the name (could hardly get the spelling right!) Sophia is a regular on Bookstagram where she is very active and does weekly readathons as well. I’ve recommended her account on bookstagram recently and am going to do that again. Click her name to reach her account: Sophia and let’s let Sophia take over this post!
‘At The Devil’s Banquets’by AniseKoltz
It is only recently that I began to research local authors in Luxembourg, so for that reason my book recommendation today is a little different – this is a newly discovered author and bookfor me too.
I have lived in Luxembourg for just under two years and I am slowly learning about auniqueculture which, before Irelocatedhere, Ibarely knew existed. Luxembourg is a very small country bordering France, Germany and Belgium, so themost notableauthors areusuallyofFrench or Germanorigin.
The author I chose to discuss isAniseKoltz– sheis the Vice President of the European Academy of Poetry, and the founder and director of the festival LesJournéesdeMondorf. Shewas born in Luxembourg in 1928, but as Luxembourgish was not even a written language until about 30 years ago, the majority of her work is written in French and German (the twootherlocal languages).Interestingly, shebegan bywriting only in German, however, after the death of her husband– whowas a victim oftorture bythe Nazi occupation–she couldno longerbring herself to write intheGermanlanguage. When she started writing again, the only language she would use, was French.
Anise started her career bywritingfairy stories in the 1950s, butlater,sheswitchedher focusto poetry. As afellowpoet myself, I waskeentoexploreher workandthe words she wanted to share.The first book of herpoetrythat Iencountered, is called ‘At the Devil’s Banquets’.
Herwritingin this bookfascinates me as it is so lyrical yet at the same time raw and painful. She makes bold statements questioningour world, and yet, her words are also metaphors and wild contemplations.There is a subtle anger in herstylewhich really resonates with me:
‘Lost in space eternity turns back to the glacial era
Keeps watch over our petrified bodies sites abandoned by time’
We encounter so muchgentle and simple poetryin daily life(which definitely has its place) butweare not often faced with the trulyhard–hitting pieces. For mepersonally, I loveto ponder apowerful stanza full offearless observation.
Alongsidethiscomplex anddark narration, she also creates some intimate pieces about more run–of–the–mill subjects such asthewritingofpoetryitself.I really enjoyed this piece called ‘The Poet’,belowis a small extract:
‘He holds back the poem the way you hold your breath
Until he learns to breathe against it
His wildcat’s teeth grind
Every Poem is a mark of his claws’
To read Anise’s workis to discover a wonderful correlation between her writing and Luxembourg itself – uncharted beauty where you are least expecting it.
This was Chapter 9 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Sophia. You can buy the book here from book depository
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Our previous Chapters are as follows, have a look!
“No one woman can speak for all Muslim Women – for that rich and varied tapestry of experiences, practice, belief and ways of being” – Nadine Aisha Jassat
#theguywiththebookreview presents It’s Not About The Burqa
The quote above from Nadine came on the last page of the book and I think it reaffirms my original decision to not review this book the way I usually try to critically (although amateurly) look at the contents.
17 Muslim women from a wide range of backgrounds share their thoughts about what it is like to be a Muslim Woman, sometimes very visibly so (Hijabi Muslim Women) and sometimes not as visibly.
A few of the essays here were fascinating to me. Having lived most of my life where ‘normal’ to me is a lifestyle circled around Islam and practicing Muslims, the Muslim identity to has always been the default. Where segregation of sexes is the norm and where things go to a halt when it is prayer times (All shops close for 20-30 minutes during the 5 prayer times in Saudi Arabia)
There were essays which I absolutely disagreed with and then there were some that were almost enlightening. One in particular by Saima Mir definitely choked me up.
But without a doubt my absolutely favorite of all the essays came very early in the collection: On the Representation of Muslims *Terms and Conditions Apply by @nafisa_bakkar Her essay made a super lazy reader like me get up and grab my highlighter. I went crazy highlighting the stuff she’s written! Absolutely on point!
I would recommend this to readers across the board, Muslim or Non Muslim with a very small note that not everything in this book is about being a Muslim or Not being a Muslim. These are mostly experiences and aren’t to be taken word for word as a representation of or not of Islam.
If you’re interested in buying the book, please click HERE for my Affiliate Link, Thank you!
With Chapter 8 of the TTBC Sandra Falke will take us on a Literary Journey across Estonia through her pick to represent, Estonia.
Over a random conversation with Sandra last month she expressed interest in writing for the blog series and I immediately said yes! I personally have never read anything based in Estonia so there was my own personal agenda behind getting a recommendation as well!
Sandra will now take over, hope this becomes a good place to start for Estonian Literature!
Sandra can be found on wordpress, here and on Instagram here.
Estonia is a small country in the Baltic region and its geographical position has caused it to be occupied by various other countries. Because of these historical events, Estonian culture has experienced many oppression periods and our literature has only been able to flourish since the beginning of the 20th century – apart from a handful of folk songs, some poetry and short texts written in German by Baltic Germans there is no Great Estonian Novel before that time. However, we are now making our mark in the literary world. Here‘s a small introduction to what‘s happening in the moment and a speculation on what is about to happen soon.
Thematically the most important novels deal with historical subject
matter, focusing mostly on the country‘s development and awakening during the
20th century, so it is no surprise that Ilmar Taska‘s „Pobeda 1946 – A Car
Called Victory“ („Pobeda 1946“, 2016) has received raving reviews on the
Estonian and European scale from readers and critics alike. The book has been
translated into several languages and adapted into a short movie which takes
place in Hungary.
Although the place of „Pobeda“ is actually Tallinn (the capital of
Estonia), the history of Soviet Europe is interchangeable so like the KGB agent
sent to question a small boy whose father is wanted for intelligence purposes,
nobody in this story is given a name – only a motivation. The boy must not talk
to strangers about his family life, the mother must protect the boy, the agent
must infiltrate the family and keep his superiors satisfied.
This is a story most of Europe can relate to, since the Soviet Union has left an un-erasable mark in its history. The internal terror families were put through as the communist machine taught their children to spy on the parents at home, and the subtle techniques the agent uses to make a small naive person do just that are quite horrific.
As the novel is being told mostly from the little boy‘s perspective,
sensations of horror and fear grip the reader almost immediately. The boy is in
danger, while the agent keeps luring him in with his cool and modern car
„Pobeda“, and Taska does a great job in keeping this suspense up while
continuing to tell the story of the family as well as the agent in an
empathetic way. Even the enemy is human, as „Pobeda 1946“ manages to tell the
story from the other side as well.
In addition to all of that, Taska tells another story related to the family: Even in times of terror and behind iron curtains there is a love story to be found, about crossing borders and overcoming fear.
All in all, „Pobeda 1946“ is a complex novel, rich in emotions and
stories, witty in its psychological structure, and well-balanced in combining
horrifying and satisfying aspects of a suspenseful story. It is also a perfect
example for getting to know one of the most important episodes of Estonian
Estonian literature depicting earlier history is somewhat similar to
many Scandinavian writers: the novels often tell of a farmer‘s life who works
hard to survive against nature‘s will, all the while being legally bonded to
his master and enduring additional hardship from that. A great example for this
is the pentalogy „Truth and Justice“ („Tõde ja õigus“, 1926) by Anton Hansen
Tammsaare, picturing Estonian life from 1870 to about 1930. A shorter
conclusion of this collection and an introduction to Estonian folk tales is
Tammsaare‘s novel „The Misadventures of the New Satan“ („Põrgupõhja uus
vanapagan“), which is a mixture of satire, political commentary and local
Newer Estonian literature is harder to pinpoint. Many writers reflect the individual loneliness that contrasts our fast technological development (Martin Algus, Katrin Johanson, Andris Feldmanis, Meelis Friedenthal). Some are analyzing the national individuality of Estonia in light of becoming a member of the European Union (Martin Kivirähk, Mihkel Raud). Many are still writing memoirs and reflections on the past (Toomas Mikker, Mart Sander, Andrus Kasemaa and many others).
However, I believe Estonian literature has come to a point where new ideas and perspectives are necessary and about to be explored and a future- or at least present-driven type of novel is emerging. This is made possible by the fact that more novels from Estonian authors have been translated into German and English in the last three years than ever before (Karl Ristikivi, Katrin Johanson, Ilmar Taska, Mart Sander, Vahur Afanasjev, Elin Gottschalk and many more). We are finally about to step out into world literature. In my opinion, the imminence of these developments makes Estonian literature something to watch out for in the future!
This was Chapter 8 of the traveling biblio chornicles by Sandra Falke. You can buy the book here from book depository If you liked this post, please consider subscribing here Do consider sharing this with your friends who might like to read more from our hopefully growing diverse list over the next weeks and months.
Our previous Chapters are as follows, have a look!
I’ve been thinking a lot about this book and I have to say it very much could be the perfect sampler to the Raw experience of Indian Lit.
#theguywiththebookreview presents Between The Assassinations by Aravind Adiga.
The first book I read by Adiga was the very much critically acclaimed and Man Booker Prize Winner, The White Tiger.
Surprisingly this book was actually written by Adiga before that one but published later.
Between The Assassinations is a collection of short stories based in Kittur, India and encompasses a wide range of characters from different parts of its society which make for a very intriguing experience when these characters come together.
Each type of character seems to have been researched meticulously and Adiga manages to touch a plethora of topics, from terrorism to casteism to poverty and corruption. Some of the short stories mildly intermingle to give them a much richer experience which sometimes short stories might lack.
There are many books based in India which make for great picks to start with Indian Lit but if you’re undecided on where to start, I’d definitely recommend this book or The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
Literally just finished the book and although it’s midnight I know I can’t go to sleep without putting my thoughts out.
#theguywiththebookreview presents After The End by Clare Mackintosh (Gifted by @littlebrown)
This book is divided into two parts, Before and After. Pip and Max have a son who is terminally ill and they are faced with the heartbreaking decision to either let him go or try unconventional medication which might delay the inevitable but will not improve his health.
Max and Pip do not agree and end up in court to decide the fate of Dylan.
‘Before’ deals with this part of their journey as parents (up-to the courts decision)
‘After’ follows their lives after the courts decision and is surprisingly even more heavy on the heart than ‘Before’.
There are three perspectives in the book, Max, Pip and Dylan’s Doctor Leila.
All are in first person and that gives each chapter a very personal touch making the impact of their tough situation even more haunting. The inclusion of Leila is especially helpful as it adds another dimension to the story which breaks the alternating chapters between Max and Pip. Really effective story telling.
I cannot write more without spoilers but I really want to. (Please don’t read onwards if you have already made your mind to read it) You can pre order the book HERE.
‘After’ is made extremely interesting because Clare takes us into two directions: One where the court decides that Dylan is in too much pain to live and the other where Dylan should get the medication required to live for as long as possible.
These two directions are managed in alternating chapters and are again told from Max and Pips perspectives. In each they get what they wanted from the court (Max – Dylan lives; Pip – Dylan is let go)
After I read the book, I read Clare Mackintosh’s Note where she tells how more than a decade ago she faced a similar situation. Reading that made my heart fall and so I couldn’t wait to write what I felt about the book. Clare does acknowledge this would be a difficult book for many readers to get through so please pick it up only if you are okay with reading a tough story.
There are so many things to talk about this book but discussing almost anything is potentially a spoiler, so I’m going to try sneak through this review like a kitty cat 🐈
#theguywiththebookreview presents If Cats Disappeared from The World by Genki Kawamura
In this surprisingly heartwarming story of our unnamed protagonist who is diagnosed to die soon, The Devil appears and offers one extra day to live against making one thing disappear from the world.
Then starts the grueling daily routine where he has to choose what thing to get rid of from the world for one day of life. The characters, pace and writing all come together very nicely to give a short yet impactful experience. There is a sense of nostalgia portrayed in the book which might make you pause and reminisce.
Not necessarily meant to be a very serious book, but it does take a nice detour in the closing chapters and the book wraps ups very nicely! Would definitely recommend it to cat lovers and especially those who loved The Travelling Cat Chronicles.
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I guess it was ‘maktub’ that I won’t like this book at all and struggle to finish it without making faces every other page.
#theguywiththebookreview presents The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The book is about chasing our dreams and giving everything to fulfill our ‘personal legend’ which for Santiago according to a fortune teller, is to travel to the Pyramids wherein lies a treasure waiting to be found by him.
Obviously the journey to find the treasure isn’t expected to be easy and Santiago keeps taking risks and working hard to get closer and closer to his goal. At no part dod I feel any empathy, sympathy or any emotion towards Santiago or his so called journey, I just couldn’t be bothered. Extremely bland protagonist and so were the rest in the book. One of the worst aspects about this book was the repetition. We get it, the whole universe conspires to make our dreams come true. We don’t need being told that half a dozen times.
That’s basically what the Alchemist is about with a lot of life lessons, some subtle but most of them forced towards the reader making them feel extremely unnatural. It’s very much like how The forty rules of love crammed in 40 rules randomly making it sound more like a lecture you don’t want to be part of.
There was one part in the book where it’s implied that Hijab is for Married women but not for single women, so yeah…Maktub indeed.
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Before we go down The Road (Excellent pun, Faroukh 👏🏼) I need to say that Cormac McCarthy instantly became one of my favorite authors!
#theguywiththebookreview presents The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Dystopian narratives are something that I have usually struggled to like and even though this book seemed to go nowhere in it’s dystopian setting, it kept moving steadily.
The book is about a Father and Son’s journey towards the Sea, where they hope to find safe haven from a dusty world. All they have is a little food (they scavenge along the way) and a shopping cart which they use to push their meager belongings.
I cannot point out why but the book gripped me from page one, the writing is absolutely beautiful and care has been taken to polish out everything unnecessary.
Father-Son narratives are one of my favorites (my favorite childhood book being Danny the champion of the world) and in my mind I was thinking of The Road as a fictional Jump Sequel to it.
I would absolutely recommend this to everyone, even those who are not fond of Dystopian fiction. The ending is one of the best I’ve read in a long long time, absolutely heartbreaking yet hopeful.