The author, Scott Simon, was an NPR correspondent who spend time in Serbia during the civil war.
It opens very strongly. "The Knight" gives racist diaThe author, Scott Simon, was an NPR correspondent who spend time in Serbia during the civil war.
It opens very strongly. "The Knight" gives racist diatribes about the Muslims being slaughtered. Simon nails the anarchic, grotesquerie of war.
But, halfway through, Simon's language turns prosaic, and his characters are rather cliche. He constantly reminds the reader of Sarajevo's cosmopolitan past, and how hippy-cool the primary character's (Irina, a Muslim girl who becomes a sniper) parents are. We get it -- her parents are more secular than Muslim, and they like the Beatles.
I like the thriller elements, and Simon's Irina is based on an actual teenage sniper, so the reader does get a sense of the historical context. I just he didn't succumb to lazy sentimentality towards the end....more
Since I knew this already, I didn't come away with any new insights from this book -- nor was I especially movFrench colonials could be awfully nasty.
Since I knew this already, I didn't come away with any new insights from this book -- nor was I especially moved by the prose. Perhaps Oyono's work almost seems cliche nowadays, which is certainly not his fault. As one of the founders of the negritude movement, Oyono deserves props for being one of the early writers of the colonial experience, from a native perspective.
I do wish that the female character was better developed. She was simply nasty, rather than a fully-fleshed character who might have some redeeming qualities. ...more
This makes for a quick, spellbinding read...A Pakistani named Changez goes to Princeton, and gets a swanky Manhattan job. the book chronicWhat a book!
This makes for a quick, spellbinding read...A Pakistani named Changez goes to Princeton, and gets a swanky Manhattan job. the book chronicles his gradual transformation from the kind of gifted, high-achieving foreigner, to a young man radicalized by anti-Muslim sentiment in the West, along with American foreign policy.
I certainly did not always find Changez sympathetic. He creepily admits that he smiled during the World Trade Center attacks. But he is also not evil, and the reader gradually understands mamy of the roots of his anger....more
I enjoyed much about this book, but was surprised to discover it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, not to mention that the author was rated onI enjoyed much about this book, but was surprised to discover it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, not to mention that the author was rated one of the best young English novelists.
I enjoyed Ali's description of the Brick Lane district, and she was also able to capture the tension of the Bangladeshi Americans and their native parents -- how difficult it is for young, modern westerners to relate to their "off the boat" parents.
BUT -- it was frustrating to read how clicheed the Bangladeshi women were: they spent most of their time as miserable victims, as if they were doomed to unhappiness whether they lived in England or Bangladesh. This struck me as a regretable case of orientalism, under the presumption that to live as a Muslim woman makes her miserable. There wasn't one happy female character.
I also agree that it was overlong -- a little more editing wouldn't have hurt....more
I loved this. It makes a great companion to Russel Bank's The Darling, and Phillip Roth's American Pastoral about yet another female sixties radical wI loved this. It makes a great companion to Russel Bank's The Darling, and Phillip Roth's American Pastoral about yet another female sixties radical who inadvertently kills an innocent bystander.
But this one's the best of the bunch.
Spiotta really connects the dots here. She follows her radicals to the present day, like Roth, but provides context. Her characters struggle to maintain some semblance of their former politics, and therefore preserve their integrity.
She is also a brilliant music writer. I immediately downloaded the band "Love"'s music after her description of their psychedelic, surreal sounds -- not to mention the band's seemingly psychotic genius (think an African-American Syd Barret).
Finally, she claims that teenage goths and indie-rock kids benefit from the Hippies legacy -- without having to pay the price, since they can wear Urban Outfitters and emo-garb, without ever serving jail-time. She reminds us that -- like it or not, the politicized youth of the boomer decade were trailblazers, irregardless of how complacent they evetually became.
This book was so much fun. Gogol wrote during 19th Century Russia, when the majority of the population were condemned to serfdom...and the Kulak classThis book was so much fun. Gogol wrote during 19th Century Russia, when the majority of the population were condemned to serfdom...and the Kulak class ran them ragged, trying to keep up the the rest of bourgeoius (sp) Europe. Let's just say, you understand why the French Revolution happened.
The novel's hero, Chichikov is a lovable scoundrel, a much greedier Don Quixote who just won't give up on his ingenious capitalist schemes.
Gogol is a master of human behaviour, and I sometimes felt a tad quesy. Gogol knows all people are often ridiculous to the core....more
Ali has every right, not to mention an obligation to share her harrowing experiences. But, she betrays a surprisingly EuThis is an irresponsible book.
Ali has every right, not to mention an obligation to share her harrowing experiences. But, she betrays a surprisingly Eurocentric view of a fictional, monolithic Islamic world. Simply because she lived in Saudi Arabia and (her native country) Somalia does not make her an expert in the Islamic regions, which is much more diverse than she'd have us believe. There are secular states like Egypt, Syria, and Turkey... Not all Muslim women considered themselves oppressed, or have been genitally mutilated. As a matter of fact, there are Muslim feminists -- who write about the Qu'ran from a feminist point of view. One very good book which explores this: Leila Ahmed's Woman and Gender in Islam.
The author, Peter Godwin, grew up as a white Zimbabwean, just like Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Lets Go to the Dogs tonight. He brilliantly shareThe author, Peter Godwin, grew up as a white Zimbabwean, just like Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Lets Go to the Dogs tonight. He brilliantly shares his experience living under Robert Mugabe, who has been the country's dicator since the 1970's.
My problem, however, is how he portrays his parents, and their near-saintliness. They are/were clearly warm people with an impressive degree of moral courage.
But he never addresses the fact that Zimbabwe -- formerly Rhodesia, was a European colony before Mugabe, and suffered accordingly under white rule. He never seems to question why there was so much opposition to the white settlers, who had the best farmland, and (his own parents included), black servants.
While I thouroughly enjoyed Godwin's gorgeous writing, I was frequently frustrated with his reluctance to address the oppression of the blacks, which continues to haunt the country.
Godwin is the better writer, but I preferred Fuller's book. Her Zimbabwe is just as frightening, and beautiful. But she never withdraws judgement throughout her book. Her approach lends greater credibility.
Please note: I'm not arguing that Mugabe's monstrous behavior towards any of his subjects is justifiable. But Zimbabwean independence is a much more complex issue than Godwin acknowleges....more