CategoryOther Reviews

The Beauties: Essential Stories by Anton Chekhov

The stories in this collection of Chekhov’s work were translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater, nephew of Boris Pasternak. I am new to his stories and I rarely read short story collections. It was Tony’s enthusiasm that led me to this particular collection. I don’t know the reasons for putting these particular stories together. In a few of the stories, Burkin, a high school...

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Thirty-eight year old Tsukiko Omachi recounts the story of her connection with her former high school teacher Harutsuna Matsumoto who she encounters by chance while drinking in a bar. She didn’t remember the name of this man 30 years her senior, so she calls him Sensei, and continues to do so. They meet by chance over many months, drinking saké and eating together, most often at a...

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

The narrator tells the story of leaving home in Bangalore as a drifting young adult to search for a Kashmiri man she knew from childhood. From the start Shalini says that her privilege and naiveté had caused her to do great harm to others in that troubled area. The reader waits for that blow, as Shalini described the family dynamics as she is growing up and at the same time told of the events...

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I can’t think when I’ve read a more addictive book. I was hooked from the moment I began reading. SPOILER ALERT! I may be more revelatory than the usual review, but I think most let you know the basic story is that one and a half years into his marriage to Celestial, Roy, a black man, was falsely accused of rape and was sentenced to 12 years in jail. Roy, the son of hardworking poor...

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

This is Marilynne Robinson’s first novel; here’s what I wrote about two of her others:  Gilead and Lila. She certainly gives me much to think about and I find that I see things in a different light from one moment to the next (or one decade to the next). It begins this way:  “My name is Ruth. I grew up with my younger sister, Lucille, under the care of my grandmother, Mrs...

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

For a book that is a thoughtful rumination on a fraught relationship, it is surprisingly adventure-filled with a dramatic variety of locations. While visiting his brother who owns a sugar plantation in Barbados in 1830, Titch asks to use the help of an 11-year-old slave with his work to create a hot air balloon. It is the connection of Titch and George Washington Black that illustrates the...

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang

Both Dorothy and Jen were enthusiastic about this book. Its author is the Director of the Iowa Writers Workshop, so its focus is on the business of teaching people to write. SPOILER ALERT!! One of the main reasons I write about books is so that I can remember whatever odd bit or important point that strikes me. So, be forewarned. The initial setting in the book is an exclusive (fictional)...

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

In just a few sentences Murakami can bring you into a world you know nothing about, but you are ready to let him guide you as he wishes. The first story tells about Kafuku, a successful actor, who found himself in need of a driver because a minor accident uncovered a glaucoma-caused small blind spot. Despite his reluctance to be driven by a woman, he agreed to be driven by Misaki who turned out...

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Recently I noted that Patrick deWitt’s book Sisters Brothers is now a movie. Though I thoroughly enjoyed it as a book, the violence which was only just tolerable in the book will keep me out of the theater. That book was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize; this one came to my attention as a finalist for the Giller Prize. I look forward to reading what the Shadow Giller folks have to say...

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors

When I was reading this book sometimes I drifted off without quite knowing it, until I became conscious that what I thought I was reading was surely not right. It took me to some odd places. This book is a series of observations about a woman in her 40s. Sonja grew up in rural Jutland, Denmark and seeing herself as different from her family and everyone else there, made her way to Copenhagen. She...

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