Clearing the Backlog

I’m so far behind in reviewing that I’m almost paralysed by it. So there’s only one solution: a mass review of books I’ve read over the last 3 months. Here goes:

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt. I really liked this one. Coming of age against the backdrop of Communist Russia. So many good things about it, if only I could remember it more clearly.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I was disappointed in this one as I am normally a fan of Ann Patchett. It gets off to a really slow start, in my opinion. It does, however, find its footing by about halfway through. If you’re an Ann Patchett fan, you’re going to read this regardless of what I say, but if you’ve not read Patchett before, I might not start here.

Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski. In the beginning I loved this book, but ultimately it was a little too long. Set in Haiti, it had a really interesting look at local politics and NGOs. The cover is great though, and i do plan to go back and read Feildwork, one of Berlinski’s earlier novels that I remember loving.

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch. I really liked Koch’s two previous novels. They had a very Koch feel to them. That feel is lacking in Dear Mr M.  That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, but if you’re looking for that distinctive Koch uncomfortableness, it isn’t so apparent here. The one thing i did like about it though, is that it’s about a writer. That always gets me.

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah. If Orange is The New Black were set in a Zimbabwean prison, you might get this book. It is a great book and one that I highly recommend. Propulsive story, great characters, skilled writing.

So there, it’s done. Backlog cleared. Hopefully this means I can get back into the groove.

The Parcel by Anosh Irani

I’ve long had a mixed relationship with Anosh Irani and his new book, The Parcel continues to make me feel the same way. Irani is a beautiful writer tackling the harsh realities of the poor and marginalized in Mumbai, and he does so again with The Parcel. That is to say, it, like his other works, is a heartbreaking tale that is beautifully written. Continue reading

Why We Came To The City by Kristopher Jansma

Don’t let the fact that it took me a while to get around to reviewing Kristopher Jansma‘s latest novel Why We Came To The City deceive you. I loved it. I loved it more than his debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (review). It’s a novel that’s stuck with me and that I’ll be pushing into quite a few people’s hands. Continue reading

Hilltop by Assaf Gavron

The Hilltop by Assaf GavronThe Hilltop by Assaf Gavron was one of those books I was saving for the right moment. I wanted to love it and savor it; read it at a leisurely pace and take it all in. Gavron is a highly acclaimed Israeli writer, he’s won tons of prizes and I truly believed that this was going to be the book to bring Israeli literature to the fore in North America. Continue reading

The Incarnations by Susan Barker

The IncarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker has been praised as China’s Midnight’s Children. I hate comparisons like that because it almost sets The Incarnations up for failure. Midnight’s Children was a game-changer for Indian literature in English, and in many ways put South Asian literature on the map. For years it was cited as the quintessential novel of India’s coming of age. The Incarnations, on the other hand, though a mighty book, is not forwarding the cause of Chinese literature per se, as Barker is a Brit of Malaysian-Chinese descent, and does not mark a moment in time when everything changed the way Midnight’s Children did. Continue reading

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

The Fishermen by Chigozie ObiomaLet’s just say I had high hopes going into The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma and I was not let down. There has been a lot of murmuring in literary circles that Obioma is one to watch and I think people are right – Obioma can write! Continue reading

The City of Devi by Manil Suri

The City of Devi by Manil SuriThe City of Devi by Manil Suri has been out for quite sometime, and I’m not quite sure why it has taken me until now to read it. I have loved all of Suri’s previous books, but was perhaps a little hesitant to read this one as I’d heard it took place after a nuclear attack. Sounded just a little bit to close to post-apocalyptic to me. Continue reading