My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar (Iraq)
- Brilliantly researched and wonderfully written. Loved the snippets of History he had sprinkled throughout the book. This book is totally engrossing and made me put it down each time with a really heavy heart. It did make me realize that casteism manifests itself throughout the world, in some way or the other...In the way European Jews looked down on the Middle-Eastern Jews or mocked their language. PICK IT UP!
Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee
- Young adult novel. No points for guessing why I picked it up :) It did turn out to be a really sweet book. There were a couple of stereotypes, like Maya's cousin who visits Manitoba from Calcutta or the 'cool' dude liking the 'nerd' girl part. Liked the twist and the resolution. Good book to read between some heavy clunkers :) But I guess my best moment with the book was when Mayalou picked it up and said, "Lie-berry book. Chaami!" and she would proceed to touch the picture of Ganesh on the cover and press her hands to her eyes...sigh! I kept renewing the book just to see her do that :)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (Ireland)
- Poignant, heart-wrenching story of a young German boy whose father is sent by the fuehrer to take charge of Auchswitz concentration camp. The story is told from the point of view of 9 year old Bruno, who pulls us in with his innocence and then breaks us apart as he sets out on his one big adventure before leaving camp. Somehow, the horror of Holocaust as told by a child is even more scathing and unbearable, especially when you realize those tender hearts are just incapable of recognizing Evil. Finished it in one setting and then cried more rivers watching the movie.
The Scent of Sake by Joyce Lebra (Japan)
- Well-researched book on the Japanese sake brewing families. Their traditions, how business and family are one and the same unit, the role of women in business - every single nuance including how cooking rice is an art is brought to us through the character of Rie...the head of the Omura household. Simple narrative. Somehow I feel, if 'Toss of a Lemon' by Padma Viswanathan was a few hundred pages shorter I might've given it a shot. Coz between the two, the only reason I finished this book was because it was smaller. Otherwise they deal with the same kind of non-plot : the life of the matriarch of a family, how she affects those around her directly or indirectly. Plus I guess I was courious about Japanese culture and not so much about Indian caste system.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
- I don't think I have a right to review this since I did not complete it. I couldn't go beyond half the novel. Can't really put my finger on why. Maybe because I didn't gel with the precocious 13 year old Briony Tallis, the style of writing(which I later read used metafiction and such like of which I haven't really heard of before) was making it really, really hard for me to concentrate on the story. twice I started the book, dropped it on page 23 or some such and then tried to pick it up again after a week. Finally gave up. Still can't understand why it was shortlisted for Booker?!
But yeah, found out many interesting books using the literary device metafiction from wiki. I've seen the movie 'Everything is illuminated' and I liked it. So maybe, it isn't metafiction but Atonement I dislike :)
The No:1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
- Awesome Dawesome book. Hilarious, unputtdownable and Mma Rawotse is just too darn wonderful :) Light reading but it is in no means 'fluff'. Throughout the book, you get to know Africa, Bostwana in particular, and what keeps the fire alive in every African. This is the first book in the series and I can't wait to read all the ten.
Challenges covered: New Author, Orbis terrarum, WWII.
(Note to self: Check challenge blogs to find out if the challenge is still on or it's over and done with)