Monday, June 11, 2018

Reviews in Brief

Since I evidently can't be bothered with full reviews these days (I haven't written one since October of last year) I'll catch you up on some reading in short form.

Mirror City, by Chitrita Banerji. Writer Chitrita Banerji resides in Cambridge,
Mass., but this book was published for the Indian market; I got a copy after it showed up as a consignment at my old workplace. It's good! It's about an Indian/Hindu woman married to a Muslim and living with him Bangladesh during the tumultuous political and social upheavals of the 1970s. Uma struggles to find a place for herself, establish a career and manage her relationship with her husband while negotiating some pretty tricky politics. I liked it a lot and would recommend it.

The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. This won the Booker Prize a few years ago; it's a big, complex, sprawling historical novel set in New Zealand of the late19th century as gold prospectors mingle with misfits and tangle for money, love and power. It's hard work but worth it.

The Road Home, by Rose Tremain. Tremain's Orange-Prize-winning novel tells the story of Lev, an immigrant to London from an unnamed former Communist Eastern European country. The first few pages are claustrophobic as we follow Lev's first few days in detail; then the narrative opens up as he settles and starts to build a new life. Soon he finds a dream to chase and that's when things get really interesting. This timely and moving novel is well worth a read.

Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden, is required reading about North Korea's human rights violations. Shin Dong-hyuk was born and raised in a secret labor camp and he barely escapes. Physically he leaves the camp but inside he struggles trying to adjust to Korean and American society. Both sides of the narrative are heart rending but it's important to not look away.

I have like five books going right now that I have been reading for a few weeks and it's been just as hard to write reviews as to finish books. I want to come up with a new format to talk about books, something that differs from the kinds of "reviews" I've been writing for almost eleven years now. What do you think of the capsule-type reviews above? Do you have any other suggestions? I'd love to get your help!

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive any of these books for review.

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