Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 2015 Reads (week 2)

Skylight by José Saramago. translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Library book. An amazing first novel.

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, Nina Shevchuk-Murray (Translator)
This is a huge, sweeping novel told in  straight narrative, dreams, and flashbacks. It is long (750 pages) and intense. It took me three month to read it. The amazing thing was that although it is complicated and covers a vast swath of Ukrainian history and contemporary politics, I never got lost in the many times I put it aside. Every time I picked it up I knew exactly where I had left off, even when I had set it aside for more than a week and read 4 or 5 other books in the interim. 

An amazing, rewarding, and essential read.

Frog by Mo Yan, Howard Goldblatt (Translation)
Free ARC from publisher through Goodreads First Reads program.
I liked this novel about a Chinese midwife who is caught up in China's population control policies. Gugu not only delivers babies, she must provide birth control information, insert IUDs, and perform abortions. The major part of the novel is told by her grand-nephew in a series of long letters. The final portion is a play based on Gugu's life. I found the play section tedious and really a slog to read.

Although the subject matter is serious and the characters struggle with difficult moral choices and tragedies, there is a warmth, humor, and sympathy in the narration. Definitely worth reading.

The Wolf of Bordeaux  by Richard Lange a short story set in a French prison in 1899. Published online in The Summerset Review and included in his Sweet Nothing: Stories published this week by
Mulholland Books. Lange has links to two more of the stories on his website.

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