As the year is almost over, it’s time to share the books discovered this year that I have enjoyed the most. Thus, here it goes, in no particular order.
“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath.
A partially autobiographical novel about a talented girl, aspiring to become a writer, who undergoes a bout of madness. I loved the author’s brave and always witty protest about the situation of women in the 60s, her sense of humour and the sometimes unsettling ability to connect with the reader, making me identify with the protagonist even in her most awkward and complex moments.
“Stoner” by John Williams
Probably my favourite discovery of the year. Williams provides us with a detailed portrait of Stoner and his life, from his childhood in a countryside of Missouri, the “accidental” discovery of literature in the university, a failure of a marriage, becoming a professor, a father, a lover, to his old age and death. There is a simplicity in Williams’ style that I found just perfect and, at the same time, extraordinarily poignant.
“Another Country” by James Baldwin
“Giovanni’s Room”, my first book by Baldwin, had already introduced me to the complexity of his themes, and “Another Country” took this complexity to a whole new level. Colour, sexual identity, fear, discrimination, violence that breeds even more violence, hatred, uncertainty, social pressure, guilt, infidelity and love in all its dimensions are among the themes presented to us by Baldwin. Continue…
“The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Another amazing discovery of 2015. I found Nguyen’s debut novel about the fall of Saigon and the years after it absolutely genius. I raise my hat to the author’s intelligence, mastery of words and, especially to his capacity of being equally critical to all sides and forces involved in Vietnam War.
“If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things” by Jon McGregor
There is nothing remarkable about the characters of this book. They are ordinary neighbors of a run-down neighborhood, living their ordinary lives, going through their ordinary routines, talking about ordinary things. Yet Jon McGregor, the author of “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things” subtly shows us that the ordinary can be and is remarkable. Continue…
“Life Class” trilogy by Pat Barker
I was in love with Pat Barker’s style and unforgettable characters after her “Regeneration” trilogy on WWI, so I couldn’t miss another trilogy by her on the same topic, although from a completely different angle. The last book in this trilogy extends to WWII and covers some of the harrowing events during the London Blitz. You can read my full review of Toby’s Room, the second book in the trilogy HERE.
“Ship Fever” by Andrea Barrett
I must admit that I am not a fan of short stories, and this book got into my hands when my creative writing teacher recommended one of the stories from “Ship Fever” (it was actually called “Ship Fever” as well). What happened was that after finishing that story I just couldn’t put the book down and devoured it in a few days. As Boston Globe reviewers aptly said, it’s a collection of stories about the “love of science and the science of love” set mostly in the 19th century. A must read for all lovers of literature who are curious about science and the world.
“Missing Person” by Patrick Modiano
I am a bit ashamed to admit that I had not read anything by Modiano until he won the Nobel Prize of Literature, and to correct it I started with “Missing Person”. It’s one of those books you finish in one go, as it’s really difficult to put it down once you open it. “Missing Person” is a story of a man on the quest of discovering his past which he can’t remember. Although I wouldn’t call it a detective, it has this air of mystery that makes you look forward to opening the next page.
“Euphoria” by Lily King
“Euphoria”, is loosely based on the lives of three social anthropologists, Margaret Mead, her second husband, Reo Fortune, and her third husband, Gregory Bateson. Social anthropology and a possibility to get a little closer to Margaret Mead, even though fictional, were the factors that attracted me to “Euphoria” in the first place, especially because I studied social anthropology and Mead’s works myself in my university years. Continue…