‘Sulphuric Acid’ by Amélie Nothomb

My rating: 4 stars

Full of impactful moments of dark humour, Sulphuric Acid by Amélie Nothomb is a satire on reality TV which questions why people choose to watch it even when it involves nothing but suffering. It highlights how easily viewers forget that the people whom they are watching are fellow human beings and emphasises the importance of holding on to what makes us an individual person, such as our names.

Another reality-TV show was about to begin. It would have been just more of the same had it not been set in a death camp and called Concentration (the Nazi imagery is prevalent throughout the book). Anyone could be a participant, or more precisely a prisoner. People, young and old, were picked at random on the streets and then piled into a cattle-truck. Pannonique was “selected” while strolling around the Jardin des Plantes.

More care was taken when choosing the guards. Zdena, who was given the post of Kapo, had to fill in a questionnaire and prove that she could beat and insult people. None of the principles of the show shocked her. While at the camp, she developed an obsession with Pannonique. She beat her regularly and wanted to know her real name, since prisoners at the camp were only known by numbers and letters. Pannonique, who soon became a star thanks to her beauty and the assured way in which she behaved, was the prisoner CKZ 114. Continue reading

Book Haul – December 2020

A long time has passed since I wrote my previous book haul. I bought some books between then and now but never in bulk. As I was reading them almost immediately after buying them, I didn’t feel like sharing them with you on a post before reviewing them. This month, though, I decided to order seven books from the UK (before the Brexit transition period ends to avoid them potentially ending up in Customs next year) and they all arrived at the same time!

 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries is one of the four massive books that I plan to read during the first half of 2021. Set in the 19th century, it has as main character Walter Moody, who decided to try to make his fortune in the goldfields of New Zealand. He becomes involved in the mystery surrounding various unsolved crimes. Although I wasn’t impressed by the TV adaptation, I decided to give the novel by Eleanor Catton a whirl.

 

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

It is decided! The first book that I’ll read next year is the colossal War and Peace! Now that I’ve finally bought it (in a stunning Vintage Classic Russians edition, which sadly arrived damaged), I can’t delay picking it up anymore. As Napoleon’s army marches on Russia, the lives of a group of young people change forever. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy it as much as Anna Karenina. Continue reading

The Translated Literature Book Tag

I’ve only done a couple of tags since starting this blog around three years ago. For no particular reason other than most of the times I can’t come up with answers to the questions, it’s usually not the type of content that I write. But when I was tagged by Callum to do the Translated Literature Book Tag, created by Diana, for once many books started to spring to mind to answer almost all of the queries.

In the context of this tag, I think it’s important to mention that I can read fluently in Portuguese and English. So, I now only read translations of books originally written in other languages besides those two. But, without further ado, let’s get into the questions.

 

  1. A translated novel you would recommend to everyone

No book can please everyone, so I can’t promise that you will all like my pick for this question. However, as Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch (translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett) mixes a crime story with musings on writing and fiction, I believe that it’s a book that readers of a wide variety of genres may appreciate. A murder is used to justify why reality and fiction have to differ. The story is told from various perspectives, and certain elements are introduced at specific moments to surprise the readers. Continue reading

‘EU Still 28’ Authors to Continue Reading

Throughout 2018 I read one book by an author from each of the present-day 28 EU members states. I called this project ‘EU still 28’. Some of the books that I read were written by authors whose work I was already familiar with. Others, on the other hand, were penned by writers whom I had never read a book by before.

My first time reading certain authors left me eager to know more about their work. Taking into consideration not only my enjoyment of the books that I read but also my interest in the other ones that are currently available in a language that I can read fluently (Portuguese and English), in the future I will certainly read more books by the eight authors listed below.

 

Robert Seethaler

To represent Austria, I read The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Having as main character Franz Huchel, it’s a story about sexual awakening set at the time of the rise of Nazism. I now want to read A Whole Life, which is about the return of a soldier to his village in the Alps after the Second World War. Continue reading

Favourite Book Covers IV

As you can infer from the Roman numeral on the title, I love beautiful covers and like to share them with you. When it comes to books, there is just one thing more thrilling than a bookcase filled with them – a bookcase full of books with beautiful covers!

The fourth instalment of my favourite book covers features one book that I’m currently reading, two I’ve already read and one that I probably won’t start delving into for a few months. The title of the two books that are now safe on my read shelves link to the respective reviews, in case you want to know more about them. You can also see my other favourite book covers here.

 

Uma Vida à Sua Frente by Romain Gary

Cover design: Henrique Cayatte Atelier

Publisher: Sextante Editora Continue reading

‘The Life of Hunger’ by Amélie Nothomb

My rating: 4 stars

Amélie Nothomb is not merely the author of The Life of Hunger, she is also its narrator and main character. Nevertheless, this is not a non-fiction book. It is a fictional memoir which introduces a girl and a young woman permanently hungry, not only for food but for almost everything life can provide. As the daughter of a Belgian diplomat, she experienced various forms of hunger in different cities – Japan, Peking, New York, Bangladesh.

At the beginning of the book, Amélie remembers the moment when she received a parcel from a gentleman national of Vanuatu, a small and remote island, where the population has never known hunger. They’ve always had plenty of natural resources, more than enough for the short number of inhabitants. In this context, she defends that in the West we have the habit of overeating, because we see hunger in the streets. Also, we have a “keen” appetite, as we work in order to have money to buy things.

But the hunger Nothomb writes about is also connected with the aspiration of constantly having something present, and with the endless existence of something to do and to pursue. Since she was really young, she has always wanted more from games, books, toys, stories. She aspired to infinity, including from sugary things, although her mother tried to thwart her. Continue reading

Book Haul – January 2018

I decided to celebrate the arrival of 2018 by buying more books! And, more importantly, I badly needed three of them for my ‘EU still 28’ reading project. Two of the four books I recently acquired were written by authors I haven’t read before, while the other two are by an author whose work I’m already familiar with and that I tend to really enjoy.

The four newest additions to my shelves are:

 

The Life of Hunger by Amélie Nothomb

The Life of Hunger is the book I chose to read by a Belgian writer for the ‘EU still 28’ project. It’s a fictional memoir about the formative journeys of Nothomb’s youth, during which she suffered from acute anorexia. Continue reading