Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Daphne Du Maurier Discovery

Though this might not be as earth shatteringly amazing as the woman who found some of Daphne Du Maurier’s lost short stories which became ‘The Doll’, I did have my own amazing Daphne Du Maurier moment the other day, well I think it’s amazing. It was all again when I was raking through the over flow of books which had been sent for an art installation. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted some taller books one of which was ‘Vanishing Cornwall’ by Daphne Du Maurier, which would have been a fabulous find in itself, this book itself was hiding some secrets…

I would have picked up ‘Vanishing Cornwell’ regardless because its Daphne nothing else needs to be said than that really. You all know I love her work. The fact this book is no longer in print and not so easy to get hold of was an added bonus. If you are like me you will love finding things in books, things previous owners used as book marks. Be they old postcards (possibly my favourite find, especially if they have a note), cinema tickets, shopping lists, etc I find it all fascinating. Well, whoever had this book before I ended up in a warehouse and then with me must have loved Daphne as much as I do as the book was filled with press cuttings about her…

Most of them are obituaries from all the broadsheet press dated April 20th 1989, the day after she died. There are also articles such as ‘Secret jealousy of the real Rebecca’ from the Observer on Sunday the 23rd of April 1989, ‘Estuary is a model for saving species’ from The Guardian June 8th 1996 which is all about ‘Frenchman’s Creek’, ‘Cornwall: A Tip of a Landscape’ which is a colour supplement from 1985 celebrating ‘Vanishing Cornwall’ as a book itself two decades on. My very favourite find though was ‘A Storyteller in a Vanishing Land’ from Living which is a huge piece on Du Maurier’s home Menabilly from 24th of May 1981… the article itself is older than me. Don’t you find that fascinating?  What more of a sign could I have that doing ‘Discovering Daphne’ was meant to be?

I do want to say here that all these books would have been pulped if they hadn’t be bought and used in the installation. So if you aren’t a fan of it let’s simply say worse things could have happened. Also bear in mind I do kind of know my books, though less my classics I admit, and I did take the very best stuff. Sorry, I just felt the need to mention that, back to things you find in books…

Sometimes I really do think you are meant to be in a certain place at a certain time and in this case I was meant to find this book and all it had in it. We can gloss over the other articles the reader had kept about the sale of a Victorian taxidermy museum can’t we? So I wondered have you ever found a book that you have been searching for ages, or didn’t even know you were searching for, and its suddenly there in front of you when you least expect it? What joyful things have you found in a book? What do you think of my find, is it fate?

21 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Daphne Du Maurier, Discovering Daphne, Things In Books

June’s Incomings…

Yes yet another month has flown by and it’s that time when I ask for you thoughts on the books that have come through the letterbox, or snuck in hidden in my bag etc. I was thinking that it wasn’t such a bumper month and then remembered that I had been sent the TV book club titles (I’ve had to give up on ‘Moonlight Mile’ it’s just not me) then there are the Penguins I rescued and the Daphne Du Maurier discovery, oops.

So what paperbacks have come through the door?

  • My Michael by Amos Oz – unsolicited copy, but one that I am glad has arrived as I haven’t read any Amos Oz and would like to (I seem to have lots of his books) has anyone any recommendations on Oz?
  • The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramago – another unsolicited copy of an author I really should read, any tips with Saramago?
  • Charles Jessold Considered a Murderer by Wesley Stace – an unsolicited copy of a book that looks right up my street with its gothic murderous tones. I once started Stace’s ‘Misfortune’ and really liked it but left it on a train, got another copy but haven’t picked it up again, I must.
  • Butterfly’s Shadow by Lee Langley – unsolicited copy
  • Nimrod’s Shadow by Chris Paling – after reading ‘The Proof of Love’ by Catherine Hall and loving it so much I have been hankering after more of the ‘Fiction Uncovered’ titles. This is one.
  • Conditions of Faith by Alex Miller – this will learn me the publishers emailed me very nicely about this book, I said yes… thinking it was another book. I thought it was ‘Pure’ by Andrew Miller, oops. Never mind though, I will enjoy it none the less, well I hope I will.
  • The Reckoning by Jane Casey – unsolicited copy, and the second in the series, how annoying as it looks really good, but I like to start at the beginning.
  • The Empty Family by Colm Toibin – I am in the mood for short stories and I love Toibin so this will be read soon, also a GCP submission.
  • Days of Grace by Catherine Hall – Thrilled this has come, it seems Catherine’s publisher, editor and Catherine herself really liked how much I loved ‘The Proof of Love’ (am I stuck record about this book yet) and so her now debut novel has arrived.
  • The Skating Rink by Robert Bolano – another unsolicited copy of an author I really should read, any tips with Bolano?
  • Some Hope/Mother’s Milk by Edward St Aubyn – I asked you all if I should read him, and his publishers spotted this and so sent me all of the books you can see ‘At Last’ below. Very excited about this series, have been dipping into ‘Some Hope’ and its proving emotional and incredible.
  • Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay – I haven’t read any Jackie Kay but have always wanted to, also a GCP submission.
  • The Sacrificial Man by Ruth Dugall – This arrived and with it came guilt because I know so many people who have told me to read ‘The Woman Before Me’ and I have it and still haven’t… I will though.

Next up is those hardback and trade paperbacks lots of which I am very, very excited about…

  • The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I liked his last young adult book ‘The Shadow in the Mist’ for its creepiness, I am hoping this one has the same feel to it. Ooh, I still havent read ‘The Angels Game’, what am I playing at?
  • The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb – interesting title and stunning cover, I think this is one of the books I am going to be reading next as it seems to have been ‘under the radar’ and I am after more books like that. Plus it’s another GCP submission.
  • Night Waking by Sarah Moss – I have already read this one; it’s another ‘Fiction Uncovered’ title and its one that will be getting lots of praise in due course. Its still got me thinking hence no sooner review.
  • The London Satyr by Robert Edric – I didn’t get on with ‘Salvage’ but this novel based in the Victorian underbelly, well that’s the gist I have got, sounds right up my street and is again part of ‘Fiction Uncovered’.
  • Rory’s Boys by Alan Clark – this comes almost screaming its praise from Sue Townsend, a GCP submission.
  • At Last by Edward St Aubyn – the whole series arrived, see above
  • Five Bells by Gail Jones – I saw Kimbofo’s review of this and so had to get my mitts on a copy. It sounds very much like my sort of book.
  • By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham – this will be my first Cunningham read and I am very much looking forward to it.
  • History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason – another book I know little about, though I think the authors debut was one everyone was talking about, a GCP submission.
  • Gypsy Boy on the Run by Mikey Walsh – unsolicited copy which I don’t know why the publishers sent me, as Hodder generally don’t, maybe it’s because it’s a novel about a gay man? Who knows.
  • Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob Smith – I read Bob Smith’s column/essay collection years ago so am thrilled this arrived, it’s a GCP submission.
  • Fold by Tom Campbell – unsolicited proof, I am going to look into this one a little more as initially its not sounding like my sort of thing.
  • All The Time in the World by E. L. Doctorow – I loved ‘Homer and Langley’ so much when I read it that I am really looking forward to this novel about a stranger coming into someone’s family and relationships and changing everything.
  • The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block – I still haven’t read his debut novel, I saw how much Rachel Booksnob loved this book and so was thrilled when it arrived.
  • The Watchers by Jon Steele – I asked for this one as I am was in the mood for trying something different, I am looking forward to this one a lot as it sounds a bit apocalyptic and supernatural and rather page turning, perfect summer read.
  • The Somnambulist by Essie Fox – set in the Victorian era and rather spooky sounding, how could I not want to read this?
  • Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante – I am wondering if Alice is any relation of Linda? This sounds like it’s a gripping and rather emotionally packed crime, I am loving crime fiction this year so this is an unsolicited copy I am looking forward to.
  • The Hunger Trace by Edward Hogan – Thanks to @Foyles who mentioned to S&S the publishers that I really liked Hogan’s debut ‘Blackmoor’ (reading that review shows how much my attitude to blogging has changed, ha) and Hogan is a fellow lad from Derbyshire so that adds to it.
  • Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman – This has caused some controversy I believe as a book a s a tribute to the authors dead wife, can’t seem to find much more out about it than that, has anyone else heard the furore about this?
  • Ashes by Sergios Gakas – now this will be a first, a crime/thriller by a Greek author. A book I will therefore have to give to my Greece-obsessed mother once I have finished it, not sure how she will react to all the cocaine binges that it has in store though.

Blimey typing all those books up actually makes me realise that there were a lot more than I realised, if that wasn’t enough I also received some gifts from friends and then went and bought myself some treats.

  • Read This Next… And Discover 500 New Favourite Books by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark – I saw this on Chasing Bawa, she has now reviewed it, and thought it sounded right up my street, so what a surprise when it arrived in the post as a gift from the lovely Sakura herself.
  • The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley/BUtterfield 8 by John O’Hara – Kimbofo sent me both of these as she knows I live on a Claremont related road and also I work in the publishing industry, plus I loved the sound of it from her review. She also sent me the Riverside Readers last read, it sounded amazing and I was gutted that I missed out on it (I miss that book group so much – I am wondering if they would let me join in virtually?) and now I can give it a whirl.
  • The Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor – I have wanted this forever and found it for a whopping 50p in Cambridge, Susan Hill raves about this book which makes me want to read it even more, I think it might be out of print now.
  • Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen – Kimbofo has a lot to answer for actually, her review of this crime thriller made me subconsciously pop it in my trolley at the supermarket. It wasn’t my fault honest… and I know, I know supermarket book buying is sent from the devil.
  • Fidelity by Susan Glaspell – I found this Persephone classic in a new very well hidden local charity shop for a whopping 30p, I know a Persephone for 30p. No idea if it’s good or not, but that didn’t matter at the time… it was 30p!

There that’s my loot this month, what lovely stuff have you had of late? Which of the above have you read and loved? Which would you like to see me reading next?

19 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Fiction Uncovered

A Room Swept White – Sophie Hannah

I have to say that I think this year above any other, well that I can think of, is the year where my taste buds for crime novels has been, erm, criminal. I can’t get enough! I have experimented with some new authors, and had some great successes, but the last few months (maybe because I was feeling a bit ropey) have seen me turn to my favourite series of crime novels and devour the next instalment. The first of these was ‘A Room Swept White’ which is the fifth in what, unofficially or officially I am not sure, have become the ‘Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer’ novels.

I did feel a slight trepidation before I started reading ‘A Room Swept White’. I have liked every book in Sophie Hannah’s ‘psychological suspense novels’ though the last one didn’t quite set me alight as I wanted. I had also done that very foolish thing of going and looking up some of the reviews by people, on a certain website, who had already read it which weren’t particularly favourable. I however thought this book, though I will admit not my favourite of the lot, was a really good thriller that had me guessing until the very end. I was left wondering if people had read a different book which had this cover on the front.

Fliss Benson is shocked when she learns that her boss has decided to give her his job when he decides to leave. What shocks her more is the fact that he has left her to carry on making the film he has been passionate for years. It’s the story of Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines, three women who were wrongly accused of killing their own children all with the same child protection zealot Dr Judith Duffy who was accusing them but is now herself facing an investigation for apparent misconduct. Not only is this a high profile film with a hard subject matter, its one that Fliss has been trying to avoid due to a secret lying in her very own past. This all gets much more complicated when someone kills Helen Yardley leaving a card with sixteen numbers on it, the very same numbers and in the same formation that someone has just sent to Fliss too.

I thought the premise of ‘A Room Swept White’ was incredibly strong, the whole sixteen numbers on a card had me very intrigued as did the idea of this evil Dr Judith Duffy. I was also looking forward to seeing what was doing on with the dynamics of the relationship between Zailer and Waterhouse. Weird then that I would say that these three things were not what kept me reading the book. In fact the sixteen digits only got the occasional mention and, without giving too much away, didn’t have that much relevance (for me at least) when everything was uncovered, nor really did Dr Judith Duffy. Zailer and Waterhouse were also in the book a lot less than they normally are, which I think makes this the most standalone in the series after ‘Little Face’ which is where it all starts. You would think then after all that I would be about to give the book a stinking review, no, not at all. Other things kept me reading instead.

One of the things that kept me reading was the main subject matter of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to this. I found it, whilst horrifying, quite fascinating to read. Not the deaths themselves, more how people are so quick to point the finger at the mothers, not the fathers so much it seemed, after a baby has died. There is the witch hunt element of it all too. I also liked the way Sophie Hannah weaved in different mediums of writing. There was the first person narrative of Fliss, the third person narrative of the police investigation, newspaper articles, interviews, and even snippets from a biography of one of the mothers (this made me think of the recent McCann book) it was a lot of information to take in but seemed to drive the story forward. Oh and there was the mystery element too which kept you reading on, especially after the very unexpected second murder which I will say no more about.

‘A Room Swept White’ could have been a let down for me if I was only reading the book because I had been hooked in by the blurb. However, as I was reading this as a fan of Sophie Hannah’s previous novels and because I like a good crime – it worked for me overall because even though it didn’t deliver where I was expecting, it delivered in lots of other ways. Oh, apart from the last chapter which left you wondering (which I liked) and then tied up a few (rather saccharine) loose ends that I could have done without, that’s a small quibble though. I would agree with some other reviews that it’s not quite the crime that you’ll be expecting by what you are sold but that’s the marketing departments fault not the authors. What Sophie Hannah again delivers is a smart modern psychological (and the baddie is bonkers in this one) crime that touches on a very current subject, I enjoyed it and its still one of my favourite series going. 7.5/10

This book was kindly sent to me at the request of the author.

Who else has been reading this series? Which has been your favourite so far? Has anyone read the latest one ‘Lasting Damage’ and, without giving anything away, what did you think? It was strange looking back at my previous reviews of some of this series… what happened to ‘Savidge suggests some perfect prose partners’ do you think I should bring that back again?

10 Comments

Filed under Hodder & Stoughton, Review, Sophie Hannah

Four Metres of Penguin Classics…

As I mentioned recently, one of my friends did an art installation involving books for a local hospital and this meant buying 4 metres of Penguin classics, from a charity shop warehouse – so the a good cause benefitted too, with the odd additional book mixed in. As they ended up only needing just over three metres of these gems I was asked if I might like to have a few for myself. Well how could I say no? The only problem was choosing which ones to take out of quite a selection…

Which went on and on…

I can’t pretend I wasn’t like a kid in a sweet shop. However after some whittling down, because literally I could have ended up taking away about 30+ of the books, and I am aware I have a lot of books already, I decided that I had to be strict. There were a few books that I simply had to have as soon as I saw them. I also allowed myself to pick a few books that just took my fancy; the only rule was that they had to be short. There was then some more whittling from the rather large amount I had picked up/pulled off the shelves…

And I ended up with just the ten copies, though four of them weren’t for me so actually just the six…

  • Noblesse Oblige edited by Nancy Mitford – this one I grabbed the second I saw it, it’s a fortune on Amazon so I was thrilled to get this with my Mitford obsession.
  • The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen – I have read no Bowen and after seeing Rachel’s raving about her I think it’s high time.
  • My Memories of Six Reigns by Princess Marie Louise – I have a copy of this already but I love this one’s simplicity more, Neil Bartlett recommended it to Savidge Reads and its readers last year. I am debating what to do with the spare.
  • Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan – I haven’t read much Fench fiction, and this seemed short and a little dark and possibly tragic. Maybe I am wrong?
  • A World of Strangers by Nadine Gordimer – This I picked up for Kimbofo (who won’t know it yet, surprise) as I thought she might like it – she’s probably read it but it’s a fabulous edition.
  • Where Angels Fear To Tread by E.M. Forster – I read Forster for A-Level English and the teacher put me off completely. I have heard lots about this so it could end up being the next one I try.
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark – I was very tempted to keep this one for myself but Polly of Novel Insights introduced me to Spark and I thought she would like this one.
  • Castle Gay by John Buchan – Again a present for Polly, I know she likes and adventure, and yes – the title made me snigger too.
  • The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh – who also writes in ‘Noblesse Oblige’ interestingly, though the cover doesn’t say so, I read this a while back and LOVED it so now I have two, my other one might have to find a new home.
  • Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford – with my Mitford-mania you might expect this to be another one for my never ending Mitford collection. In actual fact this if for my lovely friend Dom (again, surprise) who introduced me to the wondair clan.

I think I was quite restrained, though I have been thinking of finding out the number of the charity that sell 4 metres of Penguin classics for £20 (seriously that’s all it cost) though that would be dangerous wouldn’t it. Oh and I found one more gem of a book, that one (and what I found inside it) needs a special mention all of its own. What Penguin Classic would you most love to own? Why is it that those orange covers are so appealing? What do you make of my collection and choices?

30 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Penguin Books, Penguin Classics

Books as Art…

What are people’s thoughts on books as art? I ask this as recently one of my mancunian ‘arty’ friends recently made an installation in a Liverpool hospital featuring books encased on sealed shelves in the colonoscopy ward waiting room…

20110626-100722.jpg

I have to admit I was thinking ‘but why not have the books able to be read by everyone instead of endless out of date issues of Heat and The Lady?’ Well apparently, both because they might get taken and some NHS rule about books, that’s just the way it is. So between the books are screens showing things you can learn while your waiting in the waiting room. I like the idea.

20110626-115130.jpg

So what do you think? Should books be used as art or should they just be for reading? I have to admit I was pacified more by this whole venture when my friend said after getting 4 metres of old penguin classics they had too many and would I like to riffle through and take some? More on that haul soon…

22 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

The TV Book Club Summer Reads 2011

I realised I haven’t mentioned either the Richard and Judy Summer Reads or the TV Book Clubs summer selections. I did comment on Jackie of Farmlanebooks post about them saying if they had merged the two then it would be an ideal selection of books for me. Then a mystery parcel arrived…

20110625-111350.jpg

I admit I was hoping it was a huge contract offering me the opportunity of a lifetime to host a new tv show all about books, well it wasn’t but it was a bit if a book delight…

20110625-111658.jpg

Well… My initial reaction, on thinking ‘well I am going to have to read them all now aren’t I?’, was ‘phew, I’ve read two’. I loved Emma Henderson’s and, erm, really didn’t love Jennifer Egan’s. I’m wondering if that will be my reaction to the selection as a whole, maybe a 50/50 divide?

I’m excited by Matt Haig, unsure if starting with Camilla Lackbergs fifth book in a series is a good idea even though I’ve been wanting to read her a while, and am intrigued by Michelle Lovric because of the title ‘The Book of Human Skin’.

I can’t decide if Deborah Lawrenson’s book ‘The Lantern’, which they are discussing tomorrow (as it only came out this week they must think the audience has nothing to do but read swiftly), sounds very much like a retelling of ‘Rebecca’ which I think will either delight me or make me really cross! We will see. The other two I know little about, well apart from that the cover of Kristin Hannah’s looks nice, and the Lehane cover doesn’t compel me to read it at all. But I’ll try them all!

What are your thoughts on the selection? Would you have liked any other books featured? What about the R&J selection? Oh and keep your eyes peeled for another Summer Reading club that I will be announcing very soon, am bit overexcited!

21 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts

Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

‘Purple Hibiscus’, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s debut novel, is one I have been meaning to read ever since I was completely blown away by her Orange Prize Winning ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. That book really took me by surprise, I knew nothing of Biafra and the war there, I knew nothing of the author and the book (which has since become a favourite and was the title I gave away for World Book Night) before it became a choice for a book group I was in. I couldn’t put it down; it was an amazing reading experience. So funny then that it was a book group that made me finally pick up ‘Purple Hibiscus’.

With her debut novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie takes us into the heart of a family in Nigeria not long after its colonisation, though this not the focus that the book takes, though it’s always bubbling away in the background. Instead Adichie tells us a story of religion as we follow Kambili a fifteen year old girl whose father is an extremist catholic. As the book opens Kambili witnesses her brother Jaja’s defiance of her father as he refuses to take communion in church, something utterly unthinkable, enraging her father and changing the dynamics of the house hold forever.

I did think after the first initial sixteen pages that make part one of the book ‘where is the story here, we’ve got the climax of it all at the beginning haven’t we?’ Well Adichie then proceeded to remind me that to every momentous moment there is a something that triggers it off. In the case of ‘Purple Hibiscus’ Adichie hints in the opening pages that things are pretty fragile for Kambili, Jaja, and their mother, what she does in part two is take us to how things have gotten to that point. For we all know that there is a lead up to every momentous moment. In this case it is their father’s sister Aunty Ifeoma.

The household that Kambili grows up in is, for the reader, an oppressive and claustrophobic one, dominated by a father so obsessed with god and the workings of the devil that he becomes abusive at any turn. Even small things like Kambili coming second in her class leads to some form of abuse based punishment, not sexual but often painful and humiliating. For Kambili this is simply life, its as normal as the schedule, which allows for a few toilet breaks, that her daily life must follow that is until she and Jaja go and stay in her Aunties house. Only this house, whilst with a catholic belief, is one of encouragement, progression and freedom. While they may be poor compared to Kambili’s fathers mass of wealth, they are richer in many other ways. Once Kambili and Jaja have their minds opened and allowed to roam free they begin to question things and so starts unravellings of powers and beliefs.

“I lay in bed after Mama left and let my mind rake through the past, through the years when Jaja and Mama and I spoke more with our spirits than with our lips. Until Nsukka. Nsukka started it all; Aunty Ifeoma’s little garden next to the verandah of her flat in Nsukka began to lift the silence. Jaja’s defiance seemed to me now like Aunty Ifeoma’s experimental purple hibiscus: rare, fragrant with undertones of freedom, a different kind of freedom from the one the crowds waving green leaves chanted at Government Square after the coup. A freedom to be, to do.
But my memories did not start at Nsukka. They started before, when all the hibiscuses in our front yard were a startling red.”

What I found startling, and probably the most effective part of Adichie’s writing and aspect of the book which hit me the hardest, was Kambili’s acceptance of the situation at home. Yet the more I thought about it the more I realised of course she would be, she had been groomed that her fathers form of godliness and the punishment that comes if you don’t come up to those standards are the norm.

“We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know.”

It also proves an effective device by Adichie, the initial distance she places between the reactions of Kambili and the reaction of a reader gives a reader the room to put there own emotions, shock and horror in there, while this young girl just goes on accepting it. This rather reminded me of the way Margaret Atwood writes Cat’s Eye’ actually, getting the reader to put their emotion into a void purposefully left. Will Kambili go on accepting her fathers ways for good, well of course you will have to find out, you will also have to read on to see that the climatic event you think the book will end with doesn’t at all.

‘Purple Hibiscus’ isn’t a perfect book, it could have either done with being a little shorter and some of the small tangent tales cutting out, or having those tales developed further and been much longer and more epic, the latter I think I would have loved as Adichie is immensely readable. In fact how she fitted all of this and its themes into just over 300 pages is impressive. It is a book that makes you think and one that will leave its narrator with you for some time after. 8.5/10

This is a book I have had in Mount TBR for ages.

It was hard for me not to compare this book to ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ though I did try my hardest. I was worried I had been harder on it slightly because of my subconscious comparisons. This is where reading it for a book group was great because there were other readers who had read them in the same order as me and felt the same, and people for who ‘Purple Hibiscus’ was their first Adichie novel. The latter also felt the same, everyone seemed to like it a lot, yet they sort of wanted either less or more which I found really interesting. It proved a great book for discussion. What are your thoughts have you read ‘Purple Hibiscus’ or ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’? Who has read her short stories?

12 Comments

Filed under Book Group, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Harper Collins, Review

Cambridge, Books & Women’s Words

Well it’s just under 48 hours until I head to off to Lucy Cavendish College for ‘Women’s Word 2011’. I mentioned this a while ago to you all when I posted ‘Why Men Don’t Read Books By Women?’ a while ago (how many of the books in that picture did I get around to reading, erm,  five with a stab at a sixth – though I have read lots of other books by women since then including the Orange longlist). Well the weekend is now almost upon us and I do hope that some of you will be popping by to see me and a very lovely panel discussing that very thing on Sunday. I will also be reporting back from all the other events that are taking place over the weekend which I am very excited about too. In the meantime though I thought I would ask you a book based question involving the very city that’s hosting this event…

…Cambridge! You see as I am going to be staying in this wonderful city I was if any of you knew of any books set in there? I have only been to Cambridge once, years ago, so I am looking forward to getting to walk the streets finding bookshops in between seeing the various talks and author events. So I wondered if you knew of any novels with Cambridge as a setting as it might add to the magic of the weekend. Can you think of any?

I also wondered if you could recommend any tomes that I might have in my TBR that should be taken as I have two 4 hour train journeys which make for some perfect reading time. So tomes and books about Cambridge would be lovely, and feel free to add any further comments to the ‘why don’t men read books by women’ debate here too. Oh and of course let me know if I will be seeing you! Thanking you in advance.

12 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

There But For The – Ali Smith

I have had an interesting relationship with Ali Smith before leading up to reading ‘There But For The’. I really liked her last novel ‘The Accidental’ (pre-blogging days) though was also delightfully puzzled by it, I loved ‘Girl Meets Boy’ and thought The First Person and Other Stories’ was a lovely collection. However I really didn’t get on with ‘Hotel World’, to the point where I didn’t finish it and one of her other short story collection I simply didn’t get. So I was intrigued to see which way my experience with ‘There But For The’ would go, I admit I was rather worried that the title might mean it was going to be a little experimental.

Penguin Books, hardback, 2011, fiction, 384 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

The premise of ‘There But For The’ is a rather simple one. Imagine throwing a dinner party and having one of your guests vanishing after the starter to lock themselves in your spare room for months. This is the very position that Jen and Eric (can you see what Smith has done there?) find themselves in after they invite Mark, a ‘homosexual’ they hardly know, who brings Mike along with him as his plus one even though he isn’t and he barely knows him. It is Mike that disappears and starts the lock in, with no seeming cause as to why.

What I really liked about how Smith wrote this was that she tells the story through people who know Miles and not through him himself. Most of them hardly know him that well at all, or have for certain small parts of his life up to the dinner party. I won’t say anything about them as it might give some of the joy of the ‘discovery’ aspect of the book away. This provides little insights and a certain distance which rather than alienate the reader actually creates intrigue and a little bit of mystery. I wanted to read on. It was a risk but its one that I thought Ali Smith pulled off successfully and it certainly kept me reaching for the book at any opportunity. I think I ended up reading this in about five sittings.

The other master stroke, which I know other people have questioned a little (and you can see in the comments of John Self’s post on ‘There But For The’ we have had a discussion about it), was the characters of Jen and Eric ‘The Hosts’. I don’t know if it was intentional, I can’t speak for Smith on this one, but it was like she poured everything that’s horrible about those smug middle class people  who have dinner parties and invite diverse people (sexuality and religion wise) they don’t know simply to almost see what happens, like they are an addition to the nights entertainment. I found this really comic and it added to the book’s fun feel.

As soon as you mention the word ‘fun’ in a novel people will mark it as not having enough literary merit. Not that I am saying that’s what I search for in books. I would heartily disagree with this, and in fact use ‘There But For The’ as a prime example of a book that is fun and is full of literary merit. Smith plays with words and the formation of language (typesetting etc), you can’t get more ‘literary’ than that, and has fun with it, the reader is made to engage with different forms of prose  you might be reading a newspaper cutting about Mike and then when Mark’s dead mother speaks in his head, brilliant character quirk, it is always in a rhyme.

Her characters are also very quirky and fully formed. One of the highlights of the book is where over about 40+ pages we are at the dinner party with all the guests on the evening everything happened.. This could have been really dull because it’s full of random conversation pieces, bits of politics, buts of ‘world issues’, drunken embarrassing over sharing and accidental stereotyping. It’s entertaining, its maddening, its funny, its sad, most of all its insightful – especially in how much is said by what’s unsaid. I had a feeling of ‘uh-oh’ when it started but I utterly loved it. I don’t think I have read anything quite like it. It’s a piece of writing that some authors would have given their writing arm to, well, write. It’s intricate.

“Out of nowhere Caroline starts crying and laughing at the same time. She says she wants to make a confession. Her confession is that she’s frightened of flying in aeroplanes. Hannah reaches across the table, knocks over an empty water glass and pats her hand. Jen starts shouting about CBT. Six sessions of CBT will sort you out, she says, only she shouts it, like a mad person, and she shouts it over and over, she has said it about six times, Mark thinks, either that or he is very drunk himself, which can’t be possible since he’s only had one glass and it was only half full. Hannah is shouting too, about how she has rights, and that one of her fundamental rights is the right to be able to take cheap flights, because her parents didn’t have that right, and that flying doesn’t harm the environment nearly as much as they claim. At this point, Hugo and Richard start free-associating a fantasy – Mark watches them slip into cahoots as if they’d not been being the least bit acrid with each other all night, as if cahoots is exactly the same as loggerhead”

I think ‘There But For The’ is a great novel and so far it’s my favourite of Ali Smith’s works to date that I have read. She has taken bits of her earlier work; great characters, observations, comedy, unusual narratives, prose and pacing and put them all together. It’s a tour-de-force as opposed to a hotch-potch. I don’t want to say this is her most accessible book, even though in many ways it is, because that makes it sound like its not experimental and it is. It’s just honed down, controlled and done without ego. I am very excited to see what she will come up with next. 9.5/10

This book was kindly sent by the publisher.

It’s interesting looking at ratings of her other books that she gets a full variation of opinion from great to not so. Who else is a fan of Ali Smith’s novels? Who isn’t? Why?

27 Comments

Filed under Ali Smith, Books of 2011, Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books, Review

Bookmarked… A New Northern Literary Salon

While I have been in and out, and in and out, and in and out of hospital, I have been planning and plotting, planning and plotting, and planning and plotting. One of the things that I noticed they didn’t really have up in the Manchester way books wise, apart from enough book shops (no independents at all in town), was that there didn’t seem to be a literary salon. Well what’s one to do except start one?

So I have been liaising with a colleague and friend of mine, Adam Lowe, and we are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a new northern literary salon in Manchester from August called ‘Bookmarked’, the venue is 88% booked, the co-hosts – that’s Adam and I – are really excited, and we have a lovely logo (thanks to the very kind Gav Reads)…

So what the heck is the plan going to be? Well after having seen all your responses to your thoughts on what a Literary Salon should be maybe we have gone down the wrong route? The idea overall is an entertaining and enlightening evening of bookish chit-chat. We will have two authors and an audience. The latter will have hopefully read one or both of the specific titles we have chosen to discuss (and hopefully the audience will have read). Think of it as a slightly edgy twisted version of Richard and Judy only with two male hosts. The authors will read, we will interrogate and share our thought before handing over to the live audience and their questions. With an interval and refreshments between each author and their book, like an ad-break but with some booze and nibbles hopefully. There will also be readings and signings… and a chance to buy books.

It is all kicking off in August, with dates and authors to be announced (I can tell you that September looks like it is going to be a crime cracker – I will say no more for now) in due course. I will have high hopes that you will be visiting at some point if you can? We are thinking of doing vodcasts and podcasts if we can get some helping hands from anyone who knows how to do such things, anyone?

Oh and you can add us on twitter @BookmarkedSalon

So maybe I should ask that question again, because your advice and thoughts are always wanted here, but what would be your ideal literary salon, or literary night in this kind of format? Which authors would you love to see talking (feel free to give us a wish list) about their books? What has been the best literary event you have been to and why?

17 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Bookmarked, Random Savidgeness

The Upright Piano Player – David Abbott

Well, it seems like if you hanker after some great debut fiction then the list of ‘The Culture Show’s 12 Debut Novelists’ is pretty much the ideal place to go because so far, apart from one which maybe I should try again, every one of them I have tried has been a book I have really enjoyed, or been enthralled with. That includes the latest one I decided to try which was David Abbott’s ‘The Upright Piano Player’, as it shot up the TBR pile after hearing it raved about by Ann Kingman on ‘Books on the Nightstand’ a few weeks ago.

‘The Upright Piano Player’ has possibly one of the most gripping, horrifying and gut wrenching opening chapters I think I have come across in a long time. One that isn’t reflective of the book general style, though that doesn’t mean you will lose interest swiftly from then on, it’s a book that hooks you into someone’s life only rather near the end of the tale instead of the beginning. When we first meet Henry Cage in May 2004, we are taken with him to a funeral, of whose I will not say though you know by the end of the first chapter and it’s rather upsetting, especially as we are lead to the event of the death of said person in a flashback.

“He had chased after them screaming himself, God knows what – not words he thought, just a scream, a never-ending scream. He ran until his knee gave way. They found him crawling along the side of the road.”

Interesting then, and it had me wondering which is always good, why we are then taken back to November 1999. What Abbott does is to get us to know the background to the event that happens. Not in a ‘this is why it happened’ way, though there is some of that in part, rather in a way that we get to know just how fragile Henry’s world is, and indeed the world of those around him, in the five years from that point. There is forced retirement, estranged children and bitter whilst rather balmy ex-wives. Initially you think that Henry Cage has it all, the company, the flashy car, the nice property. As we read on we realise this is a lonely man on the edge of unravelling one that is sparked further by an act of random violence on New Year’s Eve, one which comes to haunt him again and again and leads to an unravelling.

What’s fascinating is how we watch Henry unravel whilst everyone else think things are fine. We see his reaction when he is kicked out of the very company he founded, he takes it gracefully outwardly and then we see him weeping in the toilets when no one else is around. He tells the police he is fine, and then can’t sleep for fear. In fact it’s the one of the master strokes in Abbott’s story, we are often given insights into the person Henry is via other people. We might join them for a chapter at a certain point in their life when Henry may only meet them for the briefest of moments, for example when he takes a chance on Maude Singer when no one else wants to employ her, though saying that she does appear again. I liked this strange style of personal and impersonal moments. I also thought Abbott summed up the ‘London’ attitude of forgetting people the moment they leave a company or the city.

“He’s bored probably – and unhappy, too, I would guess. Have you seen him since he left?”
“Afraid not – miserable people make me miserable too, so I avoid them.”

Things move forward due to his ex-wife, who summons him to her home in Florida. She has a her reasons, and those of course you would have to read the book to discover. It adds a certain twist to the book, another interesting strand and Abbott does do this at regular intervals, lost of things are happening in the background all the time. Are they pointers to what’s to come or merely just how life is? I did find the break up scene between Henry and Nessa rather emotional and added to the turmoil of all that’s to come, has gone, and is going on.

“She left the room on tiptoe, as if in the presence of the sick. She closed the door quietly behind her and he heard the clatter of her accelerated feet on the staircase. She could not wait to be gone. The real nastiness would start later.”

I didn’t think initially I would warm to Henry. I was worried he was going to be the stereotypical late fifties uncaring bastard what-sit and initially I was slightly proved right. He is a little arrogant, but he is also incredibly fragile and a bit of a home body, which is something he and I had in common, along with his love of books (in fact books become a theme). He’s human, he has his foibles yet at the same time he is a man prepared to admit when he’s wrong and fight passionately for what he believes in when he needs too. I enjoyed spending time with him, even if occasionally (after I had finished laughing at something awful he had done) I wanted to tell him to get a grip. He is also rather lonely and rather vulnerable, if also rather difficult. I liked him.

“His suitcase held few clothes, but was heavy with books. His great fear was of being stranded with nothing to read – so along with recent novels, he took bankers – books he knew he would enjoy reading again should the new titles disappoint. Light Years by James Salter always travelled with him and he invariably packed William Maxwell’s The Chateau. Thus insured, even Christmas could be endured.”

So were there any faults to the book? I would say there were two small ones, and yet they are going to sound bonkers because they are also strengths. Abbott creates characters which are fully formed people. So fully formed that sometimes he adds strands to them you want to learn more about, an example – if slightly selfish one – is of his son and daughter-in-laws book shop which I could have read lots and lots more about, he then closes the door on them either for good or for a while. It feels like some of the strands he starts off don’t quite get finished. He also tells the story in a very random order. One minute we are in 2004, then back to 1999 but not following a straight chronological trajectory as we get varying flashbacks along the way. It’s well done, it’s an interesting style, yet I would imagine it could confuse or put people off. For me it worked, I just put the effort in and read a paragraph or two once or twice to place them.

Overall, I really, really liked ‘The Upright Piano Player’. I am quite cross with David Abbott for not writing something sooner, he waited until he retired, but then I wonder if this book is just so good because its been fermenting in his brain for so long? I am hoping that we get another one soon as this is my sort of book, and I wasn’t really expecting it which makes it all the better. 9.5/10

This book was kindly sent by the publisher.

Has anyone else read this novel, if so what did you think? There have been, not by me, some comparisons to Ian McEwan with David Abbott’s debut. I can in part see where those are coming from, mainly in terms of the violent or bizarre moments that change someones life and outlook. If you love McEwan then you will probably love this. Yet if you loathe McEwan don’t avoid reading this book, David Abbott is also an author in his own right and a different one, yet one who definitely deserves to shift as many copies as McEwan’s latest did.

21 Comments

Filed under Books of 2011, David Abbott, Maclehose Publishing, Quercus Publishing, Review

Look At Me – Anita Brookner

You may remember that Thomas of ‘My Porch’ and myself are having a special day celebrating all things Anita Brookner. I decided I should get a few read in the lead up, and the first of those was ‘Look At Me’. It’s always interesting when you have decided you are going to do a challenge, and the same applies to some Daphne Du Maurier reading I will be doing for another venture, you become rather worried that the next book you read by that author will put you off, especially when all the ones you have read so far have been a real joy.

Well, I admit that after a great first paragraph, with the brilliant first sentence ‘once a thing is known, it can never be unknown’, I was actually seriously worried that I was going to loathe ‘Look At Me’ from its first five or so pages. The term wading through treacle springs to mind, endless paragraphs on depression, melancholy, death and lunacy. It wasn’t looking good. Thank heavens then that I decided I would give it a first chapter then, because in a single page I was rewarded by some of the types of prose and characters that I have experienced and loved in Brookner’s work before.

‘That’, says Mrs Halloran heavily, after every other one of Nick’s disruptive visits to the Library, ‘is one hell of a man’, at which point Olivia asks her to be quiet and observe the rule of silence, and Mrs Halloran says, ‘Miss Benedict, why don’t you get a hold of that sodding offprint I’ve been asking for every day for the last month instead of telling me what to do? I don’t tell you what to do, do I?’
 ‘You just have’, says Olivia, who is never less than totally composed , and after that they subside for an hour or two, until dissension breaks out again over the matter of whether Mrs Halloran gets a cup of tea or not. Oddly enough, Olivia quite likes her, although I suspect that she finds her life in the Library rather painful at times. But she never says anything. How could she? Apart from her unspoken love for Nick, there is her unspoken dislike of his behaviour. Neither, of course, will ever register with him. It is when I think about this that I congratulate myself on not being in love with anyone. I am not in love with Nick. I am not in love with Dr Leventhal (difficult to imagine) or Dr Simek (even more difficult) or even with James Anstey, even though he is tall and ferocious-looking and presentable and not married and undoubtedly what Mrs Halloran would call a bit of a handful.’    

So what is the subject of ‘Look At Me’? It is interesting that the initial part of the book that bored me with the descriptions of depression and melancholy are in a way what this book is about. In fact I think the best way to describe, our narrator, Frances Hinton’s life is a solitary one, and one that Brookner can do so well. Frances admits that her life is one lived very much alone, where she lives is ‘for old people’, and really for the main the most interaction she has is with her colleagues and that’s how she befriends Nick and his beautiful wife Alix and then becomes adopted as their ‘pet project’.

That’s all I am going to give you in terms of plot because really with a slim volume of 192 pages, if I said too much I would give everything away and you wouldn’t then be put through the emotional (both high and low) wringer that Brookner has in store for you and that would very much be to the detriment of ‘Look At Me’. It’s a book you need to read in order to actually experience it.

I don’t know if that’s enough to satisfy you and ponder giving it a read but I do advise that you do. Brookner is on fine form (well after the initial hurdle) in this book and everything after the awkward start makes up for it without question. Frances is one of Brookner’s wonderful heroines who starts out a little acidic and brittle and yet slowly wins you over. It’s also interesting to watch a character like that unfold, and possibly even unravel.  I don’t know why but I think the fact that she is writer made me like Frances all the more. I did wonder if there was an autobiographical note to this book, maybe that’s just clutching at straws though. I also loved Nancy, Francis’ maid, who it seems loved Francis’ mother, who hired her, and far more than Francis did and won’t let her forget it. The background characters are always vivid and fully formed another thing I love about Brookner.

I know it’s not the longest review, but its not the longest of books – which makes it even more of an ideal read for giving Brookner a try if you haven’t already, or to take a tentative step. I am trying to think of the last time I started a book thinking ‘oh I don’t want to read this’ and ending up thinking ‘oh I don’t want this to end’. That is exactly the effect that ‘Look At Me’ had on this reader. It is such a shame it is out of print. I am only hoping that my further reading of Anita Brookner carries on in the same way. 9/10

This book is one I bought second hand many moons ago.

I am hoping that has wet your appetite, or wet it further for ‘International Anita Brookner Day’ which is now mere weeks away. If the selection of her prose above wasn’t enough, pop to the post below and you will see that there are some other incentives to read-a-long on July 16th! There is of course the possiblility you have read this, if so what did you think? Can any of you recommend which direction I go next with Brookner? I am sure it will be a joy whichever path it takes me down. Oh and who is joining in with International Anita Brookner Day, do let me know.

11 Comments

Filed under Anita Brookner, International Anita Brookner Day, Penguin Books, Review

Fancy Winning Some Brookner Books?

We are just slightly under a month away from International Anita Brookner Day on July 16th. If you are wondering just what it is, then pop here. For those of you who have yet to begin the very, very easy challenge of participating in IABD, this is meant to be a kick in the pants. Remember all you have to do is read one novel by Anita Brookner by July 16th and then post about it on your blog or send me your thoughts/reviews and I will post them on the official IABD website.

All winners will get the paperback of their choice from the huge selection at The Book Depository.

Remember, you don’t have to have a blog to participate and win. One prize will be given for each category:

Best Review

Best Brookner Related Musing (non-review)

Best Picture of your pet reading Anita Brookner (this can be interpreted loosely)

Participation Prize (random draw from those who didn’t win any of the other awards)

The fine print;

  • Prizes will only be considered for those who submit their writing/picture or link to their blog post to my email address: onmyporch [at] hotmail [dot] com or savidgereads [at] gmail [dot] com. This is the only way we can ensure that everyone who wants to be included is.
  • You must notify us no later than 11:00 PM U.S. Eastern Daylight Savings Time in order to be eligible.
  • All entries will be posted on the official IABD website.
  • Thomas of My Porch and I will be the judges.

***SPECIAL REQUEST: If you are a blogger submitting, please when you submit the link to your review/music post via email, can you also copy and paste the HTML draft of your review/musing in its entirety in the body of your email. I know in Blogger when you are editing a post you can click on the “Edit HTML” tab and then copy every single bit of info there and past it into the body of your email. Hopefully other blog platforms allow you to do likewise. This will greatly help streamline getting your post up on the IABD website.***

1 Comment

Filed under Book Thoughts, International Anita Brookner Day

Savidge Reads Grills… Sofi Oksanen

Someone was asking me the other day how I choose the authors for my ‘Savidge Reads Grills…’ and my response is that because this is a blog that’s about my personal reading life I only want the authors whose books have meant a lot to me in some way to be those that I grill. ‘Purge’ by Sofi Oksanen was a book I read last year and raved about. I thought it was incredible and wanted everyone I knew to read it, its one of those books you by for everyone you know and then realise you might have bought someone it twice. ‘Purge’ is still a book that I think about a lot, it’s never quite let me go, so naturally I wanted to Grill the mind that created it. As luck would have it I managed to catch up with its author over a virtual coffee in an airport…

Picture by Toni Härkönen

Can you explain the story of ‘Purge’ in a single sentence without giving anything too much away?

Not really, sorry 🙂 What is most important theme in the book depends on the reader and their personal background… For some it’s a book about betrayal or obsession, for some about the envy between sisters, for others it’s a book about repression in general or about the history of Estonia. Or history of any occupied country.

How did the story come about? Was it a series of subjects you had always wanted to write about? Where did you create Aliide and Zara from or did they just create themselves?

Well there were several different reasons on the background. I wanted to write about passive resistance by women – as a child I had heard lots of legends about forest brothers, the members of the resistance movement in occupied Estonia, but they wouldn’t have managed without the help of women and children and I wanted to write about what it meant for women and children, the helping.

Then there was another story in the family, about a girl who was taken to be questioned and she did came back home and looked like she was physically ok, but she never spoke since. So I started to thinking, what does it take to make someone that silent? I had just read books by Slavenca Drakulic, a Croation author I value highly – she has written about the Balkan war and it was shocking and appalling to realize there were rape concentration camps practically in the middle of Europe in 90s. It’s something that doesn´t really fit with the image we have about modern Europe. But it did happen. So how can we be sure it won´t happen again? Rape wasn´t defined as a war crime until lately (by European Union). So there´s lots of work to be done.

And another point: Soviet narrative has been defining the Eastern European countries for decades – also in the West. So there are plenty of Eastern European stories and voices who deserve to have their own voice.

‘Purge’ is a book that has really haunted me ever since I read it, how did you work out how to put the reader through all that without making it clichéd or emotionally manipulative?

Well this is quite difficult question – I just try to write as well as possible 🙂

I also think its one of those rare books that you live through with the characters; you really experience it which can be quite hard to read. How hard was it to write a book that so emotive and harrowing, how did you stop yourself from becoming an emotional wreck?

Writing is easy, always 🙂 I’m afraid it would be more difficult for me not to write.

‘Purge’ has been turned into a play in America, how did that come about and how involved were you? Will it be coming to the UK? Are there plans for a film?

Purge is just about to have its premier in Washington DC; the first production in US was in New York City. I haven’t yet heard about confirmed productions in UK, but hopefully the play will be staged in UK as well. The rights for the film have been sold, but I don’t know when the film is coming out.

I’m pretty busy with all the translations coming out all over the world and that means lots of travelling as well so I don’t have really time to get involved with the stage productions as well. I trust the professionals know what to do 🙂

The success of ‘Purge’ has been phenomenal; you’ve won awards and been read by hundreds and thousands of people. Does that put pressure on you for the next book, or are you just enjoying this all at the moment and not thinking down that route?

Well I’m afraid I don’t really have to think about this success, there’s so much work to do and so many productions on the way.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? How long have you been writing for?

I started writing when I learned to write and that was at the age of six.

Which books and authors inspired you?

Marguerite Duras, Anna Ahmatova, Sylvia Plath, Arto Salminen, Asko Sahlberg, the Brontë-sisters, Aleksandr Solzenitsyn. As a child I really loved adventures of Angelique, by Serge Anne Golon.

Are there any Finnish authors that you really wish were translated into English but haven’t been yet?

Plenty! Let’s say Arto Salminen and Asko Sahlberg. Rosa Liksom and Aino Kallas are Finnish authors I rate but there are translations in English available.

Describe your typical writing routine, do you have any writers quirks or any writing rituals?

Not really. My daily routine is so irregular nowadays and has been since I published my first novel. I can write everywhere, but prefer solitude, and let’s say it’s always good to have a cup of coffee and a cigarette.

How relevant do you think book blogging is to the publishing industry? Do you ever pop and see what people have thought of your book or is it something you avoid at all costs?

Well book blogging is not too active in Finland, but it’s very important for example in Lithuania where people don’t trust media (too much corruption), but they trust bloggers 🙂 And I guess the influence of book blogging is especially essential in the countries with limited freedom of speech and corrupted media.

In Finland book bloggers can push the attention to books that are ‘old’ or marginal and besides it diminishes the influence of big papers, or their critics, and that is a good thing. New, fresh voices are always a good thing. However due to my profession I make my personal reading list on the basis of the catalogues publishers are sending me 🙂 And also on the basis of my work in process.

You have two other novels prior to ‘Purge’ please say these are soon to be translated into English?

Depends on the publisher 🙂

Which contemporary authors do you rate at the moment?

Oh, there are plenty of them! So I cannot pick up just one. But my favourites from the past few years are books by Kazuo Ishiguro, Sarah Waters and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.

Which book, apart from your own, would you demand Savidge Reads and readers run out and buy right this instant, a book you would call your favourite?

My all time favourites are for example Nightwood by Djuna Barnes and L´Amant by Marguerite Duras. And very important is also The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Soltzenitsyn. I just bought the Finnish rights for the book (for my company) and I’m publishing it in Finland 2012-2013. It will be the first time when the book will be completely published in Finland – for example the first volume was published in Finnish in 70s, but in Sweden… Finnish publishers didn’t want to risk their business with Soviets so they didn’t dare to take the book.

What is next for Sofi Oksanen?

The new novel coming out in Finland 2012 fall. It’s the third part of the Quartet, 4-novel serious about separation of the Europe and its consequences. And this fall there’s also coming out a book including my lyrics. And plenty of translations.

A big thank you to Sofi for taking time out to be grilled, you can find her website here. You can also win a copy of ‘Purge’ in the post below.

13 Comments

Filed under Savidge Reads Grills..., Sofi Oksanen