On our weekend in Pismo Beach, I started and finished The Devotion of Suspect X, which was a fast, interesting read. The plot (saying anymore would pr...moreOn our weekend in Pismo Beach, I started and finished The Devotion of Suspect X, which was a fast, interesting read. The plot (saying anymore would probably ruin it for you, but as you can guess, there’s a dead person and it’s a who-dunnit) and the intellectual skirmishes between mathematics genius Ishigami and his university schoolmate Yukawa are engaging. The climax is quite gasp-worthy as is the character of Ishigami. But I have to say that the writing is nothing much to shout about – I keep comparing it to Natsuo Kirino’s Out (the only other Japanese crime novel I’ve read so far) and just felt I got so much more out of that one, a greater sense of character and place, for starters. There is such a coldness about The Devotion of Suspect X. Everything seemed so sterile and it just seemed like it needed a bit more meat. Still it was a fun read (if you find it fun to read about murders and cover-ups).(less)
I’ve been wondering what to say about this book for over a week now.
While I like reading translated books (and I made it my personal goal this month t...moreI’ve been wondering what to say about this book for over a week now.
While I like reading translated books (and I made it my personal goal this month to read more translated works – quick update: I am not doing very well, having only read 5 translated books so far), many of these books tend to be serious, heavy reads. Zeina is no exception. It is such a heavy hitter. It took me nearly the whole library-sanctioned three weeks to read. And every time I put it down, I was exhausted, my brain nothing more than scrambled eggs.
And so I present to you, the synopsis from Goodreads. Because that was what made me decide to pick it up:
Bodour, a distinguished literary critic and university professor, carries with her a dark secret. As a young university student, she fell in love with a political activist and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Zeina, whom she abandoned on the streets of Cairo.
Zeina grows up to become one of Egypt’s most beloved entertainers, despite being deprived of a name and a home. In contrast, Bodour remains trapped in a loveless marriage, pining for her daughter. In an attempt to find solace she turns to literature, writing a fictionalized account of her life. But when the novel goes missing, Bodour is forced on a journey of self discovery, reliving and reshaping her past and her future.
Will Bodour ever discover who stole the novel? Is there any hope of her being reunited with Zeina?
It sounds like a potentially great story, doesn’t it?
Zeina starts out ok enough. Bodour, despite her hard life, is a decent character. She had to abandon her daughter and see her grow up right in her very neighbourhood, and play with her legitimate daughter Mageeda. Her daughter Zeina has this goddess-like aura about her, her gift for music enabling her to blast past her humble background and into the hearts of everyone. Bodour’s husband, a newspaper columnist, is such a loathsome man who cheats on her. Mageeda inherits her writing skills from her parents (if that is possible) and becomes a journalist but seems to be filled with self-loathing. It’s an ugly life.
But the narrative switches too quickly from one character to another, and from childhood to present, and with little warning. I suppose this must be some kind of psychological tactic. To create the confusion in the reader’s mind that Bodour probably feels. There are parts that are repeated and the general feeling while reading it is one of disconnect, of an uneasiness, a disconcertedness. It is an uncomfortable, difficult read. Perhaps it needs someone with better literary understanding? I don’t know. I’m at odds with this book. Is this something that Nawal El Saadawi does with all her fiction? I’m hesitant to pick up another of hers now….(less)
A difficult read this one, mostly because it is dark, grey, very internal, with an oppressive government just looming behind everyone. Sardines follow...moreA difficult read this one, mostly because it is dark, grey, very internal, with an oppressive government just looming behind everyone. Sardines follows the lives of Medina, who loses her job as the editor of the national newspaper of Somalia. She struggles to bring up her young daughter Ubax, as her friend Sagal is herself trying to figure out whether she wants to flee Somalia or take part in some subversive political action, and discovering that she might be pregnant. Farah tends towards metaphors and lyrical, but meandering prose, but Sardines was in the end an interesting, complex read. Sardines is part two of Farah’s Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy which also includes Sweet and Sour Milk and Close Sesame, which, judging from Sardines, can be read independently.(less)
I was expecting more from The Blue Girl, my first Charles de Lint read. It was overall a fun read but I didn't like the way things seem to have been r...moreI was expecting more from The Blue Girl, my first Charles de Lint read. It was overall a fun read but I didn't like the way things seem to have been resolved relatively quickly at the end. I wasn't really into the way the book is told from the perspectives of the three characters either. I think I might have picked the wrong Charles de Lint book to start with.(less)
A leather-bound book. Weathered, yellowed heavy paper. A careful handwritten script. A fireplace. A glass of wine. A stiff-backed, heavy, scarlet chair....moreA leather-bound book. Weathered, yellowed heavy paper. A careful handwritten script. A fireplace. A glass of wine. A stiff-backed, heavy, scarlet chair. A rug so thick you can barely see your toes. Snow falling outside, magicking everything white.
All this. Any of this would have been the perfect way to read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and not the way I did, snatched in bits and pieces on my iPhone. Convenient yes but just so so lacking in atmosphere, in texture, in feeling.
Because this is such a magical book. An ice queen hidden in the mountains surrounded by mythical creatures kind of magic. Witchcraft and Darkness kind of magic. For she calls them with their true name and they come. How very Ged-like.
It is a fairytale, a love story, a song of strength and power.
Its sense of antiquity begs to be given the proper treatment. To be read under the stars, by candlelight, in a tome that is passed down from generation to generation.
My reread (with many more to come) shall definitely be on the printed page. On a cold mountain. With tendrils of mist caressing each page…
A book to read today, tomorrow and ever after.(less)