Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Serial Reading - My Ideas

There are a lot of compelling contemporary series that are really popular right now, like My Struggle by Karl Knausgaard and the Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante, whose fourth book, The Story of the Lost Child is burning up the bestseller lists right now. Here are some of my suggestions for great series, for when you're done with those.

If you like character-driven series like My Struggle and the Neapolitan Quartet, consider

Lydia Millet's Extinction series, starting with How the Dead Dream. About the struggles of modern life and reconnecting with nature in startlingly different ways, each book in the trilogy covers the lives of its characters from a different character's point of view but moving forward in time. Her writing is wonderful, dreamy and edgy, and I recommend her highly.

Reinaldo Arenas's Pentagonia, five books starting with Singing from the Well. Dream-like and surreal, it's been called an autobiography of Cuba in the guise of the life of its protagonist.

If you like crime series like the Millennium series by Steig Larsson, consider
The Alligator series by Massimo Carlotto, gritty, uncompromising noirs focusing on corruption and disintegration in contemporary Italy, or

Stav Sherez's Cariggan and Miller series, following a pair of London police officers tackling crime and politics in modern-day London. First up: A Dark Redemption. Think globally; kill locally.

Jassy Mackenzie's gripping series of noirs set in modern day South Africa and starring detective Jade de Jong. The first book is Random Violence and it's a winner.

If you like sprawling historical fiction like Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall series, try

The Ibis Trilogy, by Amitav Ghosh, just completed, about the First Opium War and how it helped shape the modern world. Start with Sea of Poppies and by the time you get to volume 3,  Flood of Fire,  it will be out in paperback, lol.

Cities of Salt, by Abdelrahman Munif, about the transformation of the Middle East after the discovery of oil,

or Palace Walk, by Naguib Mafouz, a trilogy set in Egypt and covering that country's history and development in the 20th century.

Or go back to early Britain with Nicole Griffith's Hild, first in a planned trilogy about that country's early recorded history.

For a fantasy series you may have overlooked, try

Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch quartet, light urban fantasy about vampires and other creatures roaming the streets of Moscow,

Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri series isn't strictly speaking fantasy but the supernatural is key to this detective series set in 1970s Laos. The first volume is The Coroner's Lunch and is a personal favorite of mine.

Jeff VanderMeer published the three-volume Southern Reach Trilogy last year, starting with the heart-pounding Annihilation, sure to leave you gasping for more. Think Lovecraft meets the X-Files.

For something completely different, for a light Barbara Pym-type read, seek out the 42-volume (don't worry, nobody expects you tor read them all) Barsetshire series by Angela Thirkell, long out of print but coming back slowly from Virago Modern Classics. They are also readily available used if you poke around. It doesn't matter where you start- dip in anywhere.

Hopefully those will be enough to keep you busy once you've struggled through all those other hipster favorites it's nearly impossible to avoid!