ext_48823: 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything (Default)
[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )
ext_939: Sheep wearing an eyepatch (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)
[identity profile] spiralsheep.livejournal.com
6, 7, & 8. Three poetry collections by Moniza Alvi: Carrying My Wife, A Bowl of Warm Air, and The Country At My Shoulder (all three collections are available together in an omnibus also called "Carrying My Wife"). I have to admit, out of about 150 poems, there were three that did anything for me. I mostly found the expression of content incomprehensible, possibly due to the author reaching for innovative imagery, and the aesthetics of form uninteresting, but she's a comparatively popular mainstream Establishment poet so my judgement is extremely questionable (and I haven't heard her read her own work live). There are two of the poems, which did speak to me, at my dw journal.

9. The Redbeck* Anthology of British South Asian Poetry, edited by Debjani Chatterjee, is a nearly 200 page collection with a wide variety of content and style, which I enjoyed. There are two example poems at my dw journal and a third example poem but, of course, three poems can't reflect the breadth (or depth) of this anthology.

* I keep misreading it as "Redneck". ::facepalm::

10. The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan didn't appeal to me visually as much as the previous Tan books I've perused but the gist, that it's more important to be happy than to fit in, is another good theme, especially for kids.

Note to tag wranglers: "british-asian" and/or "british-south-asian" is correct usage and, yes, some of the authors (and/or their subjects) are also caribbean / african / &c.

Tags: women writers, poetry, anthologies, asian, british-asian, pakistan, britain, british, caribbean, african, bangladesh, india, indian, indian-british, pakistani, bangladeshi, pakistani-british, bangladeshi-british, british-south-asian, asian-australian, australian, chinese-australian, picture books
[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
Sarwat Chadda, Devil's Kiss

The Knights Templar are still present in modern-day London (though there's not many of them left), and they have a secret mission to fight the forces of evil: vampires, ghouls, ghosts, and so forth. Billi's dad, Arthur (a white British Christian), is the head of the Knights Templar, and ever since her mom (a Pakistani Muslim) died as a result of the Templar's work, he's been cold and closed off to her, focused only on the mission. Billi feels pressured to follow in his footsteps and join the Templars, but she wants her own life, her own friends, and for her dad to pay attention to her.

I really liked this book; it's fast-paced, with an exciting plot (involving the Ten Plagues of Exodus), and interesting characters (including appearances by the Angel of Death and Lucifer), and some genuinely scary moments. I was a bit confused by the fact that everyone in the Templar has a name from the Arthurian legends, some of which are names you would expect to see in modern London (Arthur, Kay) and some which you wouldn't (Gawain, Percival). But this patten is never mentioned in the book, and Arthurian legends have nothing to do with the plot, so I didn't understand what was up with that. There's a sequel that's just come out that I haven't read yet, so maybe it plays a part in the next book.

My favorite parts were moments when the characters dealt with issues regarding Knights Templar in the modern world. For instance, there a long-running argument between Arthur and Gwaine on emphasizing the "demon fighting" aspect of their mission over the "killing people of other religions" part of it. It's mentioned that Billi was raised as a Muslim, but had to convert to Christianity to join the Templars. This isn't a major part of the book, but for me, it made the whole thing feel much more real. I would have liked more exploration of how the Templars have changed and adjusted to the present, actually. Again: maybe in the sequel!

A fun read, and one I recommend.

Books 7-8

Oct. 6th, 2010 04:01 pm
[identity profile] tala-tale.livejournal.com
"House of Bilqis" by Azhar Abidi.
Read more... )

"Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Read more... )
[identity profile] puritybrown.livejournal.com
32: Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie

After adoring Broken Verses and finding Burnt Shadows great, but occasionally over-ambitious, I was a little apprehensive about Salt and Saffron, which was Kamila Shamsie's second novel. It begins in a slightly breathless, rambly way -- the narrator Aliya quotes her cousin as saying "There is no digression, only added detail", and she's certainly taken that aphorism to heart -- and there's a family tree included, which should give you some idea of how complex the relationships are and how preoccupied the story is with Family -- capital F most definitely intentional. It's not just family-as-relationship that matters here, but family-as-heritage and family-as-status-provider. For Aliya's family are aristocratic, and the crucial question that plagues her throughout the novel is: can she see beyond class? Does she have it in her to transcend the prejudice instilled in her by her family background?

Shamsie is marvellous on privilege -- one of the most brilliant achievements in Burnt Shadows was the way she perfectly depicted the mindset of a white Englishman in India in the 1940s; how he could be, in his own way, decent and kind, and yet be so blinkered by his upbringing and position as simply not to see why the Indians he employed might resent his presence. The exploration of Aliya's own prejudices, and her reluctance to admit to them, and the way her relatives, in various different ways, bolster them up and reaffirm them, is tremendously clever and rings true. As with her other novels, she creates a startlingly vivid sense of place (from reading Kamila Shamsie novels I almost feel I'd know Karachi if I ever visited there), and a palpable warmth in the relationships between her characters. I'm always particularly struck by how beautifully she depicts platonic or familial relationships between women; I can see the seeds of the mother/daughter bond that was central to Broken Verses here, in Aliya's relationships with her grandmother and her absent cousin.

I have some caveats. Salt and Saffron is sometimes a bit too overstuffed with detail. Aliya spends a lot of the novel retelling family stories, some of which go back hundreds of years and involve convoluted lines of ancestry; I did have to consult the family tree a number of times just to keep track, and a couple of times I got bogged down and was faintly annoyed at being given all this apparently extraneous information. But at the same time, the family stories are told with a great deal of gusto, wit, and exuberance, and Shamsie knows when to slow down and be more sparing with detail, during the scenes when we're in the present day and Aliya finds that her storytelling is not adequate to make sense of her current situation. I would also note that I found the ending a little bit pat -- it wasn't unconvincing, exactly, just overly neat. But all of these are minor complaints about a novel that I really loved. It's funny and moving and clever and generally brilliant; it made me laugh and it made me cry. Wonderful stuff.

(tags: pakistani author)


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