Writing the Seasons with Books: Autumn

This year, instead of recommending books that some people may deem appropriate to read during a specific season, I’m writing the four seasons with books. I take a look at my shelves and select books with titles beginning with the letters of the name of the season that is just starting. And the time has come to welcome autumn! Temperatures have started to slowly drop. The leaves of the trees are getting ready to fall.

 

Autumn by Ali Smith

This was the first book that I read by Ali Smith. It’s not easy to describe what Autumn is about, as it mixes a couple of elements. Not only does it compile recollections about how 101-year-old Daniel Gluck, who lives in a care home, influenced Elisabeth Demand’s life, it also alludes to a variety of current events. Brexit, the plight of refugees and various economic issues connect this novel to the time of its writing.

 

Uma Casa na Escuridão by José Luís Peixoto

The Portuguese author José Luís Peixoto penned a hugely implausible story that doesn’t aim to be anything else. The plot of this novel, which hasn’t been translated into English yet as far as I know, is merely used as a way to convey feelings – love, jealousy, fear, suffering and solitude. Although I struggled to finish it, I truly cared for the characters and enjoyed the poetic prose. Continue reading

‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colson Whitehead

My rating: 4 stars

In the Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead tells the story of a slave, Cora, who managed to escape a cotton plantation in 19th century America, while raising stimulating questions about racism, the true meaning of freedom and the importance of education to genuinely achieve liberty. Additionally, wrapped up in these issues, there is a reflection on motherhood from the point of view of a daughter who felt abandoned.

Cora was a slave at the Randall plantation in Georgia when the newly arrived Caesar approached her about running North via the underground railroad – a boxcar pulled by a steam locomotive moving on rails through a tunnel heading to the free states and Canada. In real life, though, the Underground Railroad was a network of safehouses, secret routes and abolitionists who aided escaped slaves. This difference added a pinch of magical realism to a historical fiction novel without overpowering it.

Although Cora is the main character in this novel, we are first introduced to her grandmother, Ajarry, who believed that it was impossible to escape the plantation. It didn’t feel at all illogical to start the book with an overview of Ajarry’s story, seeing that Cora’s first answer to Caesar’s proposal was influenced by her – she refused to flee. Three weeks later, however, she changed her mind. At the time of her first response, she was thinking as her grandmother, while afterwards she was assessing the situation from the point of view of her mother. Continue reading

Book Haul – November / December 2017

I don’t know if you remember, but I was trying not to buy any more books until the end of the year. Obviously, I was unsuccessful! I blame Black Friday and other random discounts. I probably won’t even manage to get to some of the books mentioned below during the following twelve months or so, thanks to a reading plan I have for next year (I’ll reveal it on a future post about my bookish resolutions for 2018). But it’s really hard to resist a bargain.

So, without further ado (and pointless excuses), these are my most recent acquisitions:

 

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is one of the authors I plan to read a book by every year. So, I needed to buy a new one for 2018. It was quite easy to choose Alias Grace, because I’m rather curious about the TV series adaptation and don’t want to watch it before reading the book. Inspired by the 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Upper Canada, it delves into the story of Grace Marks through a “tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery”. Continue reading

2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist: To Read or Not to Read

I usually don’t pay much attention to literary prizes and don’t read a book just because it was nominated or won an award. However, after the announcement of the 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist, I realised that I was already familiar with many of the titles. So, I thought it would be interesting to see which ones I plan to read, not just because they were nominated, but because I truly believe I may really like them.

I don’t mean to necessarily pick up the books I choose to read before the winner is announced or even this year. I will probably read them throughout the following years, without establishing a deadline.

 

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster

“On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives.” Continue reading