Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Books Read July 2018: 174-191

Pictured: July's 5-Star Reads

174. Farthing by Jo Walton **** (personal copy; my review)
175. And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier **** (Hoopla eBook; my review)
176. And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O'Connell  ***** (library book; my review)
177. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi *** (Audible audiobook; my review)
178. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
179. Passing by Nella Larsen **** (eARC from Edelweiss and library copy; my review)
180. If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
181. The Reservoir Tapes by Jon MacGregor **** (ARC from publisher; my review)
182. The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton **** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
183. Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks ***** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
184. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively ***** (Hoopla eBook; my review)
185. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli **** (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
186. Fall or Fly edited by Wendy Welch **** (interlibrary loan; my review)
187. Snap by Belinda Bauer **** (Hoopla eBook; my review)
188. Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco *** (eARC from NetGalley and author; my review)
189. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje **** (Audible audiobook; my review)
190. Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos **** (library book; my review)
191. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher  by Stephen D. Brookfield (personal copy; my review)

Total Books Read in July - 18
Pages Read - 4992
Man Booker Prize nominees or winners - 3
Review copies - 7
Print - 6
eBook - 9
Audio - 3
Authors who aren't white - 4
Science fiction/fantasy - 3
Western - 2
Crime - 1
YA - 2

Reading Envy Podcast 125: Strong Tea and Suspicious Penguins

Luke and Juliane are back to chat books, comedy, and library apps.  Everyone shares what they've been up to this summer, and we start accidentally sportscasting, and have to refocus on books. But we get there. Stay tuned to hear Jenny and Luke disagree about a book, and to hear Jenny talk about birds in Alaska. I admit I'm a bit out of practice with three people, so this episode is a bonus fifty percent longer than a normal episode. You're welcome.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 125: Strong Tea and Suspicious Penguins

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Books Discussed:

James Acaster's Classic Scrapes by James Acaster
The Kangaroo Chronicles by Marc-Uwe Kling
Farthing by Jo Walton
Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture by Ken Jennings
Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban

Other Mentions: 

James Acaster - Repertoire (Netflix special)
QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling (German language)
Ross without laugh track
Garfield Minus Garfield
Silence of the Lambs recut trailer
Among Others by Jo Walton
Connie Willis
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Omnibus podcast
Hannah Gadsby - Nanette (Netflix, but don't read the comments, people must be really threated by Hannah)
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
Prador Moon by Neil Asher
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
SFBRP episode on Aurora
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor 

Related Episodes:

Episode 017 - Homeric Radiation at Lake Inverness with guest Luke Burrage
Episode 032 - Her Smoke Rose Up Forever with Luke Burrage, crosspost with SFBRP podcast
Episode 037 - Breakdancing to Bach with Juliane Kunzendorf
Episode 044 - Of Survival and Memory with Luke Burrage
Episode 069 - Evil Librarian/SFBRP Crossover Episode with Luke Burrage and Juliane Kunzendorf

Stalk us online:

Juliane's Website
Juliane at Goodreads
Luke Burrage on Twitter
Luke's podcast/blog, Science Fiction Book Review Podcast
Luke at GoodReads
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Review: Warlight

Warlight Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the heels of Michael Ondaatje winning the Golden Man Booker Prize for his book The English Patient, his newest novel Warlight is now on the longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize. The English Patient, which won the Man Booker in 1992, is set in 1945 and follows a cast of characters after the end of World War II. Warlight, which is up for the Man Booker now, is set in 1945 and follows a brother and sister after the end of World War II. Oh wait, that's weird....

The book doesn't stay set in 1945. In that year, the siblings are left behind by their parents and when they run away from boarding school they are taken care of by a man who clearly has secrets. They end up meeting people who have code names, and help smuggle greyhounds among other items. That's the first half of the book. In the second half, the son Nathaniel is older and trying to make sense of everything after he thinks he sees his mother at a dance. The first half of the novel reads like a caper, to borrow a word I've seen used a lot with this book, and the second half is much slower as he tries to collect details and connect the dots.

I've seen some people saying this book is dense, but I would say compared with other Man Booker nominees it is a quick mover and was a delight in audio. I listened to the entire thing in between other stuff in two days, moving from 1.25 to 1.5 to 2x speed. The narrator does well. But listening did make me wish that the book had been assembled differently. I think the narrative could have gone back and forth in time with the older Nathaniel's thinking serving as the frame, and it would have felt more balanced and less like two novellas crammed together. I also think some of the details of the "solution" that occur near the end, including the explanation for the title, deserved more time inside the novel.

But I still enjoyed it and think it makes for a pleasant read.

View all my reviews

Recommended Reads for Women in Translation Month

It's been a while since I've done a Reading Envy Recommends post! (Previous posts include:
August is Women in Translation month, and honestly I don't know where that started. (If you know, please tell me as I hate not crediting someone with a good idea.)
ETA: Thanks to Tony Messenger (@messy_tony) in Twitter, I now know that it is Meytal from the Bibliobio blog who originated #WIT month. All hail! You may read an FAQ about Women in Translation Month over on her blog.

I will recommend titles for Women in Translation Month in three parts. Part 1 is the double dip, where both the author and translator are women. Part 2 is titles written by women but translated by men. Part 3 is titles I have on my TBR, so I'm not sure if I recommend them, but they were definitely books recommended to me or seemed to be books I'd like.

This isn't a comprehensive list by any means, and isn't even a list of all books that qualify that I've read. These are books I recommend from those smaller groups. 

Part 1: Double Dip (Written and Translated by Women)
  1. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
    Quirky character living a small life. A quick and recent read!
  2. August by Romina Paula, translated by Jennifer Croft
    I was most impressed by the believable youthful protagonist as she processes a return home and the death of a friend.
  3. Swallowing Mercury by Wjoletta Greg (Grzegorzewska), translated by Eliza Marciniak
    Short stories of a Polish childhood, vivid and strong incorporation of folk story and belief.
  4. Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, translated by Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon
    It's about feminism, women in film, the male gaze, and feels like non-fiction in its stylings.
  5. Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, translated by Sarah Moses and Carolina Orloff
    A perfect capture of the infinite loneliness of motherhood. As disturbing as it should be. Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2018.
  6. The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette
    A dystopian novel from an Arab spring perspective (actually predates those events, if I remember correctly.)
  7. The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
    Kang and Smith have worked on several books together but this is still my favorite. I feel like it's more subversive than it's given credit for, and that Kang is saying very important things about the expectations of women in Korean society. Plus it's bizarre and full of weirdness.
  8. Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated by Melanie L. Mauthner
    A novel about a girls school on the brink of what would be the Rwandan genocide. Mukasonga has a memoir about the massacre called Cockroaches, which I would recommend, but this one is slightly less devastating.
  9. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
    All the novels in the Neapolitan set are probably worth it, but I've only read 1 and 2 so far. I love the gritty tale of girlhood in this one, set in post-war Naples.

Part 2: Female author, male translator
  1. Body Music by Julie Maroh, translated by David Homel
    A graphic novel set in Montreal, about relationships and layers of intimacy.
  2. Land of Love and Ruins by Oddny Eir, translated by Philip Roughton
    Autobiographical novel told in journal entries, about nature and the self. This was a five-star read for me!
  3. The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Sam Taylor
    A boy dies and his heart goes to someone else. The novel examines all the little lives connected to his, with beautiful writing and wonderful introspection.
  4. Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman
    A difficult yet compelling read about four teens living in abject poverty in Mauritius. The writing is incredible, so the translation must be.
  5. Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler et al
    Vivid writing about a place that no longer exists, Russia on the brink of revolution, written by a well known woman who had to flee and never went back.
  6. The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane, translated by David Brookshaw
    The first novel from a female author in Mozambique, and also the first to be translated into English. A woman finds out her husband has taken another wife, and hijinks ensue. I will be eternally disappointed that my book club never voted for this book!

Part 3: On my TBR
  1.  Flights by Olga Tokarzcuk, translated by Jennifer Croft
    This won the Man Booker International Prize for 2018 but doesn't come out in the USA until 2019. I think I have a review copy, but the translator is the same for one of my favorite women in translation titles (August, in first list above.)
  2. Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky
    I actually started this before going on vacation, didn't bring it with me, and I need to rediscover it in my stacks.
  3. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang, translated by Chi-Young Kim
    This was recommended by my friend Lauren, whose reading tastes I never doubt!
  4. Penance by Kanae Minato, translated by Philip Gabriel
    I want to know if psychological thrillers translate!
  5. The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
    I always had an interest in this book based on the subject alone, but Pevear and Volokhonsky usually translate massive Russian novels to great success, so their work makes me interested.
  6. A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska, translated by Christina E. Kramer
    I've had this on my physical TBR shelf for at least a year, from when I subscribed to the Malaprops Paperback First service. I should probably give it a try.
  7. Trysting by Emmanuelle Pagano, translated by Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis
    Two Lines Press had a sale, and I bought books that would double dip in female authors and translators.
  8. A Working Woman by Elvira Navarro, translated by Christina MacSweeney
    Two Lines Press had a sale, and I bought books that would double dip in female authors and translators. 
  9. The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya, translated by Asa Yoneda
    I have a review copy of this book of short stories which comes out in November.
  10. Wanderer by Sarah Leon, translated by John Cullen
    Another review copy for a music-themed novel that comes out January 2019.
  So I have some reading to do. How about you? Will you be reading anything for Women in Translation month?