labfs39's Literary Peregrinations: Chapter 6

É uma continuação do tópico labfs39's Literary Peregrinations: Chapter 5.

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labfs39's Literary Peregrinations: Chapter 6

Editado: Nov 26, 8:49 am

Currently Reading

Ten Years of the Caine Prize for African Writing

Ursula K. LeGuin: Conversations on Writing

Serial Reader:

The Captain's Daughter by Alexander Pushkin


Apeirogon by Colum McCann, read by the author

Editado: Nov 3, 4:10 pm

Books Read in 2023

1. The Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai, translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud (TF, ebook, 4*)
2. Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky, translated from the Russian by various poets (TF, 3*)
3. No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel (NF, 4*)
4. So Vast the Prison by Assia Djebar, translated from the French by Betsy Wing (TF, 3*)
5. A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa, translated from the Japanese by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown (TNF, 4*)
6. The Double Helix by James D. Watson (NF, audiobook, 3.5*)
7. Love's Shadow by Ada Leverson (F, 3.5*)
8. Hiroshima Diary by Michihiko Hachiya, translated from the Japanese by Warner Wells (TNF, 4.5*)
9. Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld (GF, 3.5*)
10. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf, translated from the Swedish by Velma Swanston Howard (TF, ebook, 4*)


11. The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salustio, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar (TF, 4*)
12. The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar (TF, 4*)
13. The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw (TF, 4*)
14. Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer, translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton (TNF, 3.5*)
15. Native Dance: An African Story by Gervasio Kaiser (F, ebook, 2.5*)
16. The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw (TF, 4*)
17. Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories by Lily King (F, 3*)
18. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (F, 4*)

19. An Altered Light by Jens Christian Grøndahl, translated from the Danish by Anne Born (TF, 3*)
20. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F, 4.5*)
21. Cherry Ames, Student Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3.5*)
22. Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3*)
23. Cherry Ames, Army Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3*)
24. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta (F, 3.5*)
25. Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3.5*)
26. Moon in Full by Marpheen Chan (NF, 4*)
27. Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse by Helen Wells (F, 3.5*)
28. Cherry Ames, Veterans' Nurse by Helen Wells (F, ebook, 3*)
29. Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story by Ooka Shohei, translated from the Japanese and edited by Wayne P. Lammers (TNF, 4*)

Editado: Nov 3, 4:11 pm

Books Read in 2023


30. Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste (F, 5*)
31. Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran (NF, 4*)
32. Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed (F, 3.5*)
33. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (F, 3.5*)
34. The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason (F, 4*)
35. Wherever You Need Me by Anna Urda Busby (NF, 3*)
36. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (F, 4.5*)
37. Ru by Kim Thúy, translated from the French by Sheila Fischman (TF, 4*)
38. Paws of Courage by Nancy Furstinger (NF, 4*)


39. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, translated from the Persian (TF, 4*)
40. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray (F, 3.5*)
41. Persuasion by Jane Austen (F, 4*)
42. Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel (TF, 3.5*)
43. Foster by Claire Keegan (F, 3.5*)

44. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (F, 3*)
45. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (F, 3.5*)
46. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (F, 2.5*)

47. In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (F, 3*)
48. Come Tumbling Down by by Seanan McGuire (F, 3.5*)
49. First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (F, 4*)

50. Middlemarch by George Eliot (F, 4*)
51. Fallout : the Hiroshima cover-up and the reporter who revealed it to the world by Lesley M.M. Blume (NF, 4.5*)
52. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (NF, 4*)
53. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi, translated from the Arabic by Sherif Hetata (F, 4*)

Editado: Nov 25, 3:43 pm

Books read in 2023

54. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (F, 3.5*)
55. The Color of Water by James McBride (NF, audiobook, 4*)
56. The Exploded View by Ivan Vladislavić (F, 4*)
57. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (F, 3.5*)
58. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwama and Bryan Mealer (NF, 4.5*)
59. This Other Eden by Paul Harding (F, 4.5*)
60. Akin by Emma Donoghue (F, 4*)
61. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (F, 2.5*)

62. The Polish Boxer by Eduardo Halfon translated from the Polish by a group (TF, 3.5*)
63. Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated from the French by Melanie L. Mauthner (TF, 3.5*)
64. Horse by Geraldine Brooks (F, audiobook, 3.5*)
65. Capitaine Rosalie by Timothée de Fombelle (French, 5*)
66. Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky (NF, 4*)

67. My Brother's Voice: How a Young Hungarian Boy Survived the Holocaust by Stephen Nasser and Sherry Rosenthal (NF, 4*)
68. Half a Cup of Sand and Sky by Nadine Bjursten (NF, 3*)
69. New Kid by Jerry Craft (GN, 4*)
70. Five Bells by Gail Jones (F, 3.5*)
71. The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber (F, 4*)
72. I'll Take Your Questions Now by Stephanie Grisham (NF, 3*)

Editado: Ontem, 8:57 pm


January - North Africa: Saharan Sands (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco)
1. The Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai* (Tunisia)
2. So Vast the Prison by Assia Djebar* (Algeria)
3. Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region* (Tunisia and Algeria)
4. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal el Saadawi (Egypt)

February - Lusophone Africa (Mozambique, Cabo Verde, São Tomé & Príncipe, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola)
1. The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salustio* (Cabo Verde)
2. The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila* (Guinea Bissau)
3. The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto* (Mozambique)
4. Native Dance: An African Story by Gervasio Kaiser (São Tomé and Príncipe)
5. The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane* (Mozambique)

March - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Buchi Emecheta
1. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)
2. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta (Nigeria)

April - The Horn of Africa (Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea)
1. Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia)
2. Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia)
3. "The Museum" by Leila Aboulela (Sudan)

May - African Nobel Winners (Simon, Soyinka, Camus, Mahfouz, Gordimer, Le Clezio, Coetzee, Gurnah)
1. "The Ultimate Safari" by Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
2. "Nietverloren" by J.M. Coetzee (South Africa)

June - East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros)
1. The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Uganda)
2. The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber (Kenya)

July - Chinua Achebe or Ben Okri
1. "Incidents at the Shrine" by Ben Okri (Nigeria)

August - Francophone Africa

September - Southern Africa (South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mauritius)
1. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)
2. The Exploded View by Ivan Vladislavić (South Africa)
3. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwama (Malawi)

October - Scholastique Mukasonga or Ngugi Wa Thiong'o
1. Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda)

November - African Thrillers / Crime Writers

December - West Africa

* means translated

Editado: Ontem, 8:40 pm

The Baltic Sea theme read
1. Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky
2. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf
3. Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer
4. An Altered Light by Jens Christian Grøndahl

Graphic Stories
1. Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld
2. New Kid by Jerry Craft

Holocaust Literature
1. No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel
2. My Brother's Voice by Stephen Nasser

Nobel Laureates
1. Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky
2. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf
3. Memories Look at Me: A Memoir by Tomas Tranströmer
4. "The Ultimate Safari" by Nadine Gordimer

In French
1. Capitaine Rosalie by Timothée de Fombelle

Book Club
January: The Double Helix by James Watson
February: Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories by Lily King
March: Moon in Full by Marpheen Chan
April: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
May: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict
June: The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
July: Beach Read by Emily Henry
August: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
September: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
October: Horse by Geraldine Brooks
November: I’ll Take Your Questions Now by Stephanie Grisham
December: Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Editado: Nov 26, 9:31 am

Reading Globally

Books I've read in 2023 by nationality of author (a tricky business):

Algerian: 1
American: 26 (10 in series)
Australian: 1
Australian-American: 1
Bissau Guinean: 1
Bulgarian: 1
Cambodian American: 1
Canadian: 1
Cape Verdean: 1
Danish: 1
Egyptian: 1
English: 5
Ethiopian: 1
French: 1
Guatemalan: 1
Hungarian: 1
Iranian: 1
Irish: 2
Irish Canadian (Northern Ireland): 1
Japanese: 2
Kenyan: 1
Korean Japanese: 1
Malawian: 1
Mozambican: 2
Nigerian: 2
Polish: 1
Russian: 1
Rwandan: 1
São Tomé and Príncipe: 1
Scottish: 1
Somali: 1
South African: 1
Swedish: 2
Swedish American: 1
Tunisian: 1
Ugandan: 1
Vietnamese American: 1
Vietnamese Canadian: 1
Zimbabwean: 1

Check out my Global Challenge thread, labfs39 reads around the world, for a look at a cumulative list since around 2010. And I've broken out the US by state in my labfs39 tackles the states thread.

Editado: Nov 25, 3:44 pm

Book stats for 2023:

I am trying to promote diversity in my reading and, for the lack of a more refined method, am tracking the following:

books total: 72

34 countries
19 (27%) translations
1 (1%) in French

55 (76%) fiction (10 in 2 series)
17 (24%) nonfiction

43 (60%) by women
28 (40%) by men
1 both

28 (39%) nonwhite and/or non-European/US/British Commonwealth

Nov 3, 4:08 pm

My last thread was over 250 messages, so I thought I should start a new one, even though there are only two months left in the year. Thank you to everyone who has been following my reading journey this year. We are in the homestretch!

Nov 3, 6:49 pm

My sister lent this book to me last week, and I immediately read it so that I could return it. Once again the cover is railroad tracks, one of two covers seemingly ubiquitous on Holocaust books (the other being the Auschwitz sign).

My Brother's Voice: How a Young Hungarian Boy Survived the Holocaust by Stephen Nasser and Sherry Rosenthal
Published 2003, 232 p.

Stephen "Pista" Nasser was 13-years-old when he and the rest of his family was taken from a Budapest ghetto to Auschwitz. He and his older brother, Andris, soon seize an opportunity to sneak into a work detail headed for a labor camp in Bavaria. They are transported to Muhldorf Concentration Camp, part of the larger Dachau complex. There they are forced to work building a huge bunker that was intended to become a factory to produce Messerschmitt jet fighters. Despite three brutal beatings, typhus, pneumonia, and starvation, Pista survives and returns to Budapest and high school. Fearing the encroaching Communist takeover, Pista applies for immigration to Canada and eventually makes his way to the US.

Stephen delayed writing about his experience until his Uncle Karoly passed away for Stephen knew the tragic fate of his uncle's wife and baby and did not want him learning the details.

Despite the horrible events of Stephen's youth, he remains a positive and optimistic person. He begins his story at the end, telling of his rescue and rehabilitation. At first he uses the construct of telling a nurse what had happened to him, in bits and pieces, but then transitions into a straightforward narrative, which worked better for me. His story is written in the first person present tense, which immersed me in the story, but does make it less history and more narrative. I found his experiences after the war —returning to Budapest and school, reconnecting with family—members, to be interesting and am glad he continued his story until the point he leaves for Canada.

My Brother's Voice is another important story in Holocaust literature and reminds us of the impact of war on children.

Nov 3, 8:01 pm

>10 labfs39: This sounds similar in story to Fatelessness by Imre Kertés.

Nov 3, 8:42 pm

>11 kjuliff: Perhaps a bit in plotline, although this was a memoir, but the style is completely different. Pista is never unclear about his hatred of Nazism and the brutality of the camps. He does draw a distinction between SS officers and Wehrmacht soldiers, who he sees as not wanting to be there either, but that's as far as it goes.

Nov 4, 10:02 am

A few recent acquisitions:

Half a Cup of Sand and Sky by Nadine Bjursten
I received this one as an Early Reviewer giveaway. The author is American, lives in Sweden, and was editor-in-chief for the Bolivian Times for a couple of years. This novel was a finalist for the Pen/Bellwether Prize and is set in Iran.

The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin
This was given to me for my Little Free Library, but I snagged it to read first. It's about the 1888 blizzard in the upper Midwest in which many children died on their way home from school. I have read the excellent nonfiction account by David Laskin with the same title.

Buffalo for the Broken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch
by Dan O'Brien
My mom picked this one up somewhere and it sounded interesting, although very different from my usual fare.

Nov 4, 10:41 am

>13 labfs39: ooh, I’ve had half an eye on The Children’s Blizzard for a while. Look forward to seeing what you think.

Nov 4, 10:50 am

>14 rachbxl: I've heard others say that it's a disappointment if you've read Laskin's book, because his is so good. But the back cover of this novel says that the author did a lot of research, especially with oral accounts, so I have hopes.

Nov 4, 11:53 am

It's time to catch up on October reviews. Usually I write them right away while everything is fresh, but not this month.

The Polish Boxer by Eduardo Halfon
Published 2012, 188 p.

The first novel by Eduarado Halfon to be published in English, it is the third novel by him that I have read. Like Monastery and Canción, the book is a series of interconnected stories that take place all over the world and are the experiences of a semi-autobiographical narrator also named Eduardo Halfon. (Fittingly the epigraph is: "I have moved the typewriter into the next room where I can see myself in the mirror as I write."—Henry Miller.)

The novel opens with the story of Eduardo teaching literature to college students (the author attended college in the US, but returned to Guatemala to teach literature for eight years). Although most of the students are mediocre, one stands out as exceptional. This was my favorite section of the book.

The next chapter is about the author's experience attending a conference (a common theme in his books), this time on Mark Twain in Durham, North Carolina. I love this passage:

Look, how tragic, Lewis said, pointing to a dead deer on the road. Real common said the driver, to see deer run over around these parts. It occurred to me then, as a limousine carrying a Guatemalan and a Mormon rumbled past deer carcasses toward an academic conference on Mark Twain, that I was in the wrong place. Sometimes, just briefly, I forget who I am.

Several of the chapters feature Milan Rakić, a Serbian pianist who wants to reconnect with his Gypsy roots. The title story is from a conversation Eduardo had with his grandfather, the first time he told him about his experience in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Although each story is seemingly separate, they are held together by the common narrator and themes such as identity in a global world, a search for meaning, and, as Eduardo says, the fact that "there's always more than one truth to everything."

I love Halfon's writing, which is personal yet universal, and often with a sardonic humor. I will happily read anything else by Halfon that is translated into English.

Nov 4, 12:22 pm

>15 labfs39: I haven’t read Laskin’s book so no danger of being disappointed on that score!

>16 labfs39: Nice review. I read this years ago and have intended to read more of Halfon’s ever since.

Nov 4, 12:25 pm

>16 labfs39: Sometimes, just briefly, I forget who I am. resonates with me.

That’s what I hate about having a surprise party given to me. I tend to have disparate groups of friends from all walks of life, with little overlap. I don’t know how to be when faced with them all together. Which Kate am I?

Nov 5, 10:04 am

>17 rachbxl: I know you don't read a lot of nonfiction, but it was quite good though I imagine more so for an American audience.

I would strongly recommend Canción, Halfon's most recently translated book. I thought it was his best.

>18 kjuliff: That's an interesting observation. I have never had a surprise party, but it made me think of the different Lisa's that have existed over the years with different groups of people. In particular, the difference between my family of origin and my career in Seattle is striking.

Nov 5, 10:27 am

>19 labfs39: it’s quite disconcerting seeing the people from different groups/parts of your life, talking together. And if you have to give a speach…

Nov 5, 10:49 am

Thanks to mom for this book, which she purchased at the Tenement Museum in New York City's Lower East Side.

Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky
Published 2016, 387 p.

Mention the word "Bellevue" and most Americans think of a derelict, frightening mental asylum, made notorious by Nellie Bly's exposé in 1887. In truth, Bellevue Hospital's history is long and often revolutionary. In this history, David Oshinsky weaves together the history of a hospital, a city, and medicine itself.

Bellevue Hospital began as an almshouse infirmary in the 1790s. From the very beginning, it never turned away patients, no matter their ability to pay, their religion, or ethnicity (a very unusual stance for the time). Soon it became a dumping ground where other hospitals sent their incurables so as to maintain high cure rates. Whenever epidemics swept through NYC, Bellevue took the brunt of it. Because of the large number of immigrants passing through its doors, Bellevue treated a wide variety of disease and illness, and soon doctors were eager to do a stint at Bellevue in order to gain experience. As apprenticeship gave way to medical schools, Bellevue teamed up with New York University, Columbia, and Cornell to become a premier teaching hospital. Despite its reputation as the hospital for the poor, it's emergency and trauma centers became first-class and if celebrities or visiting dignitaries had a medical emergency, they often chose to go to Bellevue.

Bellevue was often on the cutting edge of medical research and practice as well. The first American civilian ambulance service began here, medical photography was developed, and in 1956 two of its physicians won the Nobel Prize for their groundbreaking work in cardiac catherization. The first doctor to reach Lincoln in Ford's theatre was a Bellevue physician as was the doctor in charge of President Garfield's gunshot wound (unfortunately that doctor was not a subscriber to germ theory and probably unwittingly abetted his death). In the 1980s, Bellevue was at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic, both in terms of research and treatment. Although there was never enough funding for a hospital of its size and mandate to treat the indigent, Bellevue achieved remarkable things.

Oshinsky doesn't shy away from the dark side of Bellevue either, such as the murder in 1989 of a pregnant doctor in her office by a squatter, or the use of electric shock therapy on children, but he does put these events into perspective.

I enjoyed reading Bellevue and learned a lot about the history of NYC and of American medicine, as well as of this storied hospital. Oshinsky has a knack for describing the personalities and quirks of those who impacted Bellevue, from politicians at Tammany Hall to the doctors and nurses who worked on the wards to the researchers in its famous pathology labs and morgue. A fantastic piece of narrative nonfiction, I would recommend it to anyone interested in NYC and/or medicine. (Jerry and Darryl, I'm looking at you!)

Nov 5, 11:03 am

>21 labfs39: living in NYC the name Bellevue always give me the horrors.

Nov 5, 11:13 am

>21 labfs39: Great review - enjoyed learning about Bellevue.

Nov 5, 11:59 am

>20 kjuliff: I got a chance to see that in action at my retirement party; along with my colleagues and family, were many of my friends of various background. They managed to all mesh rather well, surprisingly

Nov 5, 12:18 pm

>24 cindydavid4: I think mine did too. It was me who was weird. I didn’t know how to blend my various persona into a speech.

Nov 5, 7:55 pm

i dunno, i figured everyone there knew me pretty well so I had no trouble putting it togehter. There were certainly stories I told that not everyone knew about which was humourous. I kinda focused on my career and who in the audience was a major player at the time. It was fun and really not stressful for me, but then I figured I wa in a safe place that I couold be at ease

Editado: Nov 5, 8:35 pm

>26 cindydavid4: I think I’m just neurotic. My work persona was nothing like my personal one. Plus there were different ex-lovers there. It was a bit like having Margaret Mead’s lovers and tribes all in attendance. Plus my mother!

Nov 5, 8:38 pm

>27 kjuliff: Plus there were different ex-lovers there

Oh wow! that I cant imagine!

Nov 5, 9:58 pm

>27 kjuliff: I understand. My mother gave me a surprise 25th birthday party in the Philadelphia row house I grew up in. The guests included people from the hippie commune I used to live in, Philly poets and radical feminists. I was in the kitchen drinking shots with my father.

Editado: Nov 5, 11:20 pm

>28 cindydavid4: I could see them talking to each other, and tried to surreptitiously sidle up next to them to listen. One didn’t know the others were ex-lovers. And my work colleagues were people who would never have even thought I had ex-lovers. I could hear people at they party saying with looks of puzzlement to other people, “And how do you know Kate?”

An evening to be remembered, and forgotten.

Editado: Nov 5, 11:18 pm

>29 dianeham: Yes. It was sort of like a gathering of representatives of decades for me. It was interesting to see so many people had not moved on or changed at all. Sort of what they say it’s like if you are in a bad car accident, and think you are going to die, and see your whole life passing before you.

Have you read Kinflicks?

Nov 6, 9:36 am

>13 labfs39: Nice variety of new acquisitions, Lisa.

The Halfon sounds really good. I need to read him; your description makes it sound like something I would like.

Nov 6, 9:09 pm

>32 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. Two were happenstance, but look interesting

Halfon's books are short, so it's not too much of a time investment to try him. Interestingly, some of the books have been pushed in other countries with the chapters in different orders, or even with different chapters in different books. I would like to know if the Bloomsbury editions that I read are in Halfon's intended order, as I do think it makes a difference.

Nov 6, 10:41 pm

>31 kjuliff: no haven’t read it.

Editado: Nov 7, 12:07 am

>34 dianeham: Its a very funny and poignant book about a woman trying to find her identity.
From Goodreads age. Bouncing from one identity to the other , Ginny adopts the values, politics, lifestyles and even sexual orientation of each new partner she finds. In this wise, funny and ultimately heartbreaking story, Lisa Alther explores the limited roles offered to women in this period (1975-85) - from cheerleader to motorcycle moll, bulldyke to madonna

Unfortunately despite the promising start to her writing career Lisa Alther didn’t have any other books as successful as Kinflicks (1975). She was a friend of Doris Lessing who she met when she moved to London from the US.

Nov 7, 12:54 pm

>33 labfs39: That is fascinating about the order, Lisa. I might look for them in Spanish and compare them with the English.

Nov 9, 8:04 am

>36 BLBera: It is, Beth. I talk about it a bit in my review of Canción. One publisher has even published all four books as one work. Granted, they are all of a style and theme, but some parts do seem more cohesive. Or is that a case of the reader imposing meaning not intended by the author?

Nov 9, 8:06 am

Well, it has begun. It is snowing like mad at the moment, and the ground is white. Although it is supposed to turn to (freezing) rain later and melt away, it definitely feels like autumn is over. I guess it's time to start up the snowblower and make sure it's in good running order. Sigh.

Nov 9, 8:47 am

Has winter come too soon?

Enjoyed your review of Halfon and I was quite fascinated by your review of Bellevue.

Nov 9, 8:24 pm

I woke up to snow on Halloween, but since then it has been in the 50s mainly, which is good for my garage construction.

Nov 10, 7:30 am

>39 dchaikin: It does seem a bit early for snow, Dan. I remember it being uncommon to have snow for Halloween or for Passover, but now it seems to be hitting both. That's a long winter.

I have one more Halfon book to look forward to, Mourning, and then I'll need to wait for Bellevue Press to translate some more. I'm glad my review of Bellevue appealed. It was a fascinating account.

>40 BLBera: Hooray for garage construction! It was one of the boxes I was really glad to check when I was house-hunting. Not only does it mean no more shoveling out the car, or running through the rain to get to it, but it protects my car from acorns. I never knew acorns were so mean-spirited. I left my car out one day, and an acorn cracked my windshield. $250 later, I was really wishing I had parked inside. ;-/

It will remain in the 40s all week, but no more snow for the foreseeable future. The snowman I made with Wren yesterday is only a foot high now.

Editado: Nov 10, 9:22 am

>21 labfs39: Your review got me interested in the history of Belleview. It has such a bad vibe in NYC and is for some reason viewed as a psychiatric hospital. I had no idea of the AID’s research or the other cutting edge research. I’m not a great non fiction reader but it seems the type of book I could read concurrently with fiction.

I checked it out and it is available on audio so will put it on my TBR.

I’m finding everything I read now pales in relation to Study for Obedience which is the best book I’ve read in a long time.

Nov 10, 9:06 am

I also was interested: like you i assumed it was a psych hospital, had not idea it was so much more (wonder if people conflat Bellevue with London's Bedlam) will put that book on the list

Nov 11, 4:51 pm

>42 kjuliff: That's how I thought of it too, Kate. I had no idea it had some a long history or the mission of being there for those who have no where else to go, be they typhoid patients, Irish Catholics, AIDS patients, or the homeless.

I think it would be an easy book to dip in and out of, as each chapter is rather independent, though chronological. For instance, one chapter might by the impact of the Civil War, the next the development of the first civilian ambulances. Some themes run through the entire book, such as Bellevue's relationship with the city and other hospitals, funding problems, and the problem of providing a safety net with limited funds but unlimited demand.

Your review of Study for Obedience made me add it to my wishlist.

>43 cindydavid4: I think most people think of it as a psychiatric hospital first, which although important, was not central. Much of the time it wasn't even co-located with the hospital. I think Nellie Bly's expose had much to do with it's long-lasting impact on public opinion. That's how I knew of "Bellevue".

For those of you who won't read the book, but might be interested, here is a list of firsts (more are listed on Wikipedia):

first maternity ward in US
it's doctors promoted "The Bone Bill" which legalized dissection of cadavers and did wonders for the development of medical science
popularized the use of hypodermic syringe
drs at Bellevue instrumental in developing NYC's sanitation code (no pigs in streets, etc!)
first commissioner of health for NYC was a Bellevue doc, he promoted vaccinations
civilian ambulance service
first to report TB was preventable
Wechsler intelligence test
first immunization for HepB
developed the "triple cocktail" treatment for AIDS
cured an Ebola patient in US

I already mentioned the Nobel for work on cardiac catherization. Tons of advances in pathology, including criminal forensics. Medical photography. As you can tell, I am quite amazed.

Nov 11, 5:38 pm

I received a copy of this book through the Early Reviewer program. I think the cover is quite pretty. It was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction prior to publication.

Half a Cup of Sand and Sky by Nadine Bjursten
Published 2023, 389 p.

Nadine Bjursten's debut novel tells the story of one woman's life against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution and the anti-nuclear movement. At first the two seem like strange bedfellows, but in her postscript, Bjursten talks about hearing Iran continually referred to as the axis of evil while working as the managing editor of Arms Control Today. Her own background had made her familiar with the poets of Persia, and she was uncomfortable with painting Iran with the broad brushstroke of religious extremism.

A single story cements our perception of the other. It is devastating, not just because it makes the step to war so much easier, but because it increases misunderstanding and hate. It is this that I hoped to counter when I wrote Half a Cup of Sand and Sky.

The novel opens with Amineh, a literature major, struggling to find her place in the anti-Shah movements in Tehran in 1977. She's always on the edges and is flattered when an older man, a physicist and head of an international anti-nuclear group, takes an interest in her. They are soon married, and with the Revolution as a distant echo in the background, we follow her through twenty years of marriage, child-rearing, and love for another man. Through Amineh, we are given a glimpse into the progression of the anti-nuclear movement, although she remains on the periphery.

The writing is quite good, and I was carried swiftly along through the first third of the book. I particularly enjoyed the details of everyday life: the elaborate dishes she makes with herbs from her garden, the rhythms of family life, and the minutiae that make up a marriage. I became confused, however, at how little Amineh is impacted by the Revolution and its subsequent bearing on the lives of women in Iran. She travels abroad with her husband whenever she wishes, is employed or not at her own whim, and doesn't seem bothered by the restrictions that most Iranian women faced. Being interested in history, I found this lack of historical context to be unsatisfying. Bjursten's descriptions of Sweden (where the author now makes her home) create a lovely sense place that ground the last part of the book.

A quiet book, I would recommend it for those interested in the anti-nuclear movement and in descriptions of domestic life.

Editado: Nov 11, 6:58 pm

>44 labfs39: Sarah Bernstein is such a talented and intriguing writer. It’s hard to believe she’s only in her mid-30s. Born in Montreal and living in Scotland. I’m intrigued by her.

Study for Obedience is still with me. I’m glad you are going to read it Lisa.

I don’t know why, perhaps it’s a generational thing, but so many readers of SoO seem bemused by this timely novel. I will be interested in your thoughts.

Nov 12, 1:19 am

>45 labfs39: interesting about the revolution. A lacuna? Was she avoiding making controversy? Or maybe she really wasn’t that impacted.

Nov 12, 8:12 am

>46 kjuliff: I'm not sure when I'll get to it, Katie, but your review intrigued me as it had a different impression than other reviews I've read. I am looking forward to seeing for myself.

>47 dchaikin: I think it would have been impossible for an educated young woman to not be impacted by the Iranian Revolution. At first it seemed as though the author had avoided doing her research. But after reading her afterword, I thought maybe she was trying so hard to avoid the religious extremism label, that she avoided the revolution's impact altogether. She never mentioned having to wear the veil, for instance. Or the morality squads. And from the nonfiction I have read, both her travel and employment would have been impacted. In the book, Amineh's world contracted to her home and garden, her family and one friend, yet the author never tied this to the revolution at all. It just sort of happened without context.

Nov 12, 11:01 am

interesting, how could it not have? unless she was trying to save her life, which is certainly reasonable.but then why write the book

Nov 12, 11:27 am

>48 labfs39: I am shocked that so many press reviews seem to have missed the underlining theme of this book and given lukewarm or negative reviews . They must have little knowledge of the first third of last century, or to expect everything to be spelled out to them in simple terms.

Subtely eludes many of them. And even those who “get it” spend their review on pondering what country the MC’s fled from. It doesn’t matter. It’s not a fictionalized account of an event.

Some reviews get the subtlety and power, but not the underlying reason for the foreboding and menace that emanate throughout Study of Obedience. Given different backgrounds this is understandable.

I liked RidgewayGirl’s review and we both intend to read the book again. Note our reviews are very different.

Nov 12, 11:46 am

>50 kjuliff: Just my two cents: While I enjoyed the beautifully haunting writing of Study for Obedience, my issue (and this is obviously a personal one) is that I just couldn't get past how much of a doormat she was. I know that her reaction to everything going on was an integral part of the overall plot, but I think I saw too much of myself in her and it made me really uncomfortable. It's a testament to the power of her writing that she was able to invoke such a reaction in me, however it also coloured my enjoyment and appreciation of it.

Editado: Nov 12, 7:54 pm

>51 Yells: That’s a really interesting comment. I too saw that and saw it as the narrator trying to make herself invisible. I also saw it as a bit of sarcasm. “If that’s what they want, that’s how I’ll be”.

From my review -
Her whole life has been one of servitude and submission. It’s as if she’s trying to be invisible. She spends much of her time on menial housework duties and making artifacts using crafts of her ancestors who were “put into pits”. She believes herself unworthy, taking her low self-esteem to the level of the absurd.

A pity your experience of reading was spoiled by you relating to MC’s doormat attitude. Somehow she really got to me personally and emotionally, but in a different way.

Nov 12, 12:34 pm

>49 cindydavid4: Note that the author was born in New York state and now lives in Sweden. There is no indication that she ever lived in Iran.

Nov 12, 12:36 pm

>50 kjuliff: >51 Yells: >52 kjuliff: Interesting that this book has generated so many differing reactions. I have requested it as an ILL from the library.

Nov 12, 4:51 pm

>53 labfs39: Oh! wow ok, Im sure she did tons of research but not sure Ill bite. Glad >52 kjuliff: is championing tho!

Nov 12, 7:24 pm

>55 cindydavid4: Cindy, I’m confused. I’m not championing the book about Iran.

Nov 12, 9:13 pm

>56 kjuliff: oh! no, I said that because you said you were enjoying it. I should have used another word, my bad

Editado: Nov 12, 10:09 pm

>57 cindydavid4: I am not even reading it. Have never seen that Iran book. How could I enjoy a book I know nothing of. I looked back and think you are referring to a book Lisa reviewed . You are confused. Using another word won’t do the trick.

Nov 12, 9:44 pm

>57 cindydavid4: >58 kjuliff: I think the thread is maybe just easy to confuse, with posts about Study for Obedience mixed in with posts about Half a Cup of Sand and Sky. I got confused, anyway.

Editado: Nov 12, 10:11 pm

>59 dchaikin: My post that cindydavid4 referenced was >52 kjuliff: which was responding to yell >51 Yells: all about Study for Obedience. It’s not about a woman in Iran. Apparently Cindy thinks I’ve read the Iran book because Lisa recently reviewed Half a Cup of Sand and Sky.

So to be clear - I know knowing about the book Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
I reviewed Study for Obedience which can be seen on my post here.

Editado: Nov 13, 6:23 am

>60 kjuliff: Um, sorry? I do admit to be confused at times. Didnt mean to offend or cause anger. Ill go back and delete if youd like . Carry on

Nov 13, 8:14 am

We're all good here.

Yesterday I wanted to read something different, and so I picked up a graphic novel that I had acquired this summer. Only my second graphic work of the year.

New Kid by Jerry Craft
Published 2019, 250 p.

Jordan is going into the seventh grade, and his parents have decided that he should attend a top-notch school rather than his neighborhood school in Washington Heights. Jordan would rather go to an art school, but his mother is concerned that he learn the rules of making it in a white world.

On the first day of school, Jordan is picked up by a classmate and his father in an expensive car. The classmate, Liam, has been assigned to show him around and get him acclimated. At first Riverdale Academy Day School seems to be a stereotypical nightmare for a black kid: affluent white kids who tease him and teachers who either overcompensate or are unwittingly racist. But Jordan learns that in becoming the new kid at school, he can become a new kid inside, one who seems shades of grey and not just black and white.

I enjoyed this book about fitting in, that doesn't shy away from issues of race and class, but is ultimately hopeful. One of my favorite parts is when the kids go to a book fair, and there are two kinds of books: mainstream books with colorful covers and stories full of hope, and African American books with a depressingly realistic photo on the cover and protagonists who live in the 'hood in broken homes, and with blurbs like "A gritty, urban reminder of the grit of today's urban grittiness."

The artwork alternates between full color spreads and black and white ones. The pages depicting Jordan's drawings have simple pencil artwork. The text is funny, allowing the reader to laugh, but at the same time is bittersweet about the difficulties of being the new kid. The author wrote two more books in this series.

Nov 13, 9:13 am

>62 labfs39: I might get New Kid for my 12 year-old grandson. I’ve been on the lookout for a book he could identify with. Would it be suitable for his age?

Nov 13, 4:18 pm

>63 kjuliff: I think it would be perfect for a tween-ager.

Nov 13, 7:08 pm

>64 labfs39: Excellent. I bought a copy online at my favorite Melbourne book store. Seth should get it next week. He’s moving schools from a private elementary school to a state high school.

Nov 13, 9:48 pm

>65 kjuliff: I hope he enjoys it. I found that I could relate to it (even at my advanced age!) with memories of my own transition from a rural podunk high school to an ivy-adorned college.

Nov 14, 1:16 am

I thought you might be interested in these poetry books for children.

Children's Books Top Tens / John Agard's top 10 poetry books for children.

Nov 14, 7:24 am

>67 dianeham: Thanks, Diane. This is a great list that I have copied into my tickler file for the kids. Since we are doing so much with geography, I was happy to see poets from Jamaica, Africa, and Guyana. My most recent poetry book purchase for them was the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry. It is a collection of poems by both famous and not so famous poets and fantastic photographs.

Nov 14, 1:13 pm

>68 labfs39: that sounds good. It has a LT rating of 4.42 - that’s high praise.

Nov 18, 10:23 am

This is a book I had borrowed from a friend and wanted to read so I can return it when I see her next. I think this cover is much better than the yellow sunset one, as the setting is so important to the book. The only other book by Jones that I have read (twice) is Sorry.

Five Bells by Gail Jones
Published 2011, 218 p.

A quay, a day, and
Four people who intersect
In surprising ways.

It's a bright sunny Saturday in Australia, and crowds of people converge on the Circular Quay in Sydney, with its views of the landmark Opera House and bridge. Among them are four people who interpret what they see in very different ways due to their histories and circumstances. First is Ellie, a transplant from the countryside, who is meeting up with her former childhood lover for the first time in years. James is eager to meet Ellie, hoping that connecting with her can help him heal from a traumatic event which he cannot overcome on his own. Catherine has just moved to Australia from Ireland and is only starting to recover from the grief of losing her brother. Pei Xing suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution in China and emigrated to Australia hoping to start a new life, but finding a fragment of her old.

Each character's backstory is complicated and messy, as are most people's, and Jones does an excellent job at threading the stories together. Commonalities pop up in unexpected places—Doctor Zhivago, the ferries, a missing child—yet each character is unique and fully formed. Small acts of kindness among strangers are impactful for all four characters, and the interconnected nature of social interaction is a major theme. Sydney, and the Circular Quay in particular, is like another character, influencing each of the four in different ways, and being interpreted by each of the four in different ways, sometimes differently in the same day. For instance, one person thinks the Opera House resembles a body bent in a graceful curve, another a hooded eye. What one person can see as beautiful and containing hope, another sees as foreboding.

I thought I knew where the book was going, led in part by the jacket flap description, but the ending was a surprise and darker than I anticipated. But the plot is beside the point. The real beauty of the book lies in the character descriptions and the setting and atmosphere. The author reminds us that we are all of us connected in a myriad of ways, if only we could see it.

Nov 18, 12:21 pm

>70 labfs39: i really loved the prose in Sorry. Enjoyed your review.

Editado: Nov 18, 12:47 pm

Duplicate Post. Sorry!

Nov 18, 12:45 pm

>70 labfs39: I really liked Sorry, but didn't really connect with Five Bells, not that I think it is a bad book. I can't really remember why I didn't particularly care for it.

Was it on your thread that I heard about A Day in the Life of Abed Salama? I am reading it now and it is excellent.

Nov 18, 3:24 pm

>70 labfs39: Thank you for your review of Five Bells. I was quite excited when I saw it was written by an Australian. Shows how long I’ve been away. I’ve not heard of Gail Jones. I checked out my audio sources and can’t find any book by her. So I’m disappointed. I can only hope she’ll eventually be published in audio, as your review piqued my interest.

I am quite out of touch with the Australian literary scene and really must get back in touch with it.

Nov 18, 3:28 pm

>71 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan. Sorry was excellent, and it's one of the few books I've read twice.

>73 arubabookwoman: Hi Deborah! I liked Sorry better than Five Bells, for sure. I tend to like novels more than short stories, and this felt like four interwoven stories. Even though the interconnectedness was the point, I still would have preferred hearing one story in more depth, especially Pei Xing's.

Nov 18, 3:34 pm

Boy, I'm having trouble with double posts on LT today too. It's glitchy.

>73 arubabookwoman: No, I haven't read Day in the Life of Abed Salama, although someone else may have mentioned it here. I'll look forward to your review. It looks interesting. I'm currently listening to Apeirogon, which is an excellent story, but I'm finding the ultrashort chapters hard to listen to on audio.

>74 kjuliff: I'm surprised you can't find anything by Gail Jones on audio, Kate. Too bad. Sorry was impressive, and I'm eager to read Salonika Burning too. Jones has a talent for creating atmosphere and a sense of place. I would be curious to know if it rings true to an Aussie.

Nov 18, 4:08 pm

I liked Five Bells more than Sorry, but I read Five Bells first and fell in love with how Jones writes. My favorite of hers is A Guide to Berlin, which I read on the train to and from Berlin. Basically, the order in which I encounter an author's books, as well as the circumstances in which I read those books influenced me greatly.

Editado: Nov 18, 5:01 pm

>76 labfs39: I’ve messaged a friend in Melbourne who is a serious reader. I’ll let you know what she says, if she’s read it.

I checked my former local bookshop in Melbourne, and see it won a number of Australian literary prizes.
Winner of the Kibble Literary Award,
Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Fiction,
the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature,
The ALS Gold Medal,
the Barbara Jefferiss Prize and the Indies Award.

Editado: Nov 18, 6:00 pm

>76 labfs39: After my last post on Five Bells I did a bit more digging and discovered more about the book. It’s named after a poem that was based on a real event, and the book is popular in Australia. But Meanjin a an academic-leaning literary magazine gives a critical review.

I am a great believer in putting information into context, so before I begin I should mention that Five Bells is being hailed as ‘exquisite and moving’, ‘magnificent’ and ‘brilliant’. Clearly it has struck a chord with a large segment of Australian society. I wish I could say that I was among the faithful, but for me, the adulation is slightly puzzling. Five Bells isn’t a bad book. But it’s not a very satisfying one either. - Jessica Auck Nicholls

Nov 18, 7:06 pm

Five Bells sounds wonderful, Lisa. I will look for it.

Nov 19, 3:11 am

>73 arubabookwoman: I'm currently reading A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, although I haven't done anything more than post the cover on my thread so I'm not sure you would have seen it there!

Nov 19, 7:47 am

I've had Sorry on my shelves for ages, after LT raves. I really need to get to it!

Nov 19, 10:04 am

I just finished reading through the past couple of dozen posts here. Interesting conversations about interesting books. Thanks!

>78 kjuliff: I have to admit that I was tickled that there is a Kibble Literary Award. I can only assume that "Kibble" has a different connotation in Australia than it does for our German Shepherd, Rosie, here in the U.S. (It's probably the name of a famous person I should know all about.)

Nov 19, 10:22 am

>77 RidgewayGirl: That's interesting, Kay. I'm now wondering if I too, tend to like the first book I read by an author best. As for the circumstances of where I am when I'm reading a book influencing my feeling about the book, I don't think I read in enough interesting situations to tell! I'm usually holding down my recliner, and, as for the books I read in the past when I did travel, I simply don't remember sadly. I am more likely to remember where I bought a book.

>78 kjuliff: I do like Jones' writing, and I can see her winning awards. Looking at her wikipedia page, it seems that every book she has written has received awards and been shortlisted, etc. I definitely want to read more of her works.

>79 kjuliff: I think I would agree with the critic that Five Bells isn’t a bad book. But it’s not a very satisfying one either. I'm not sure what the critic found wanting, but for me it was that I wanted to stay with one character for an entire novel, especially Pei Xing, but also James. As I said in my review, I chalk that up to my personal preference for longer works, and I definitely see what the author was doing with the interweaving of four stories. It would be hard to convey her theme of social interconnectedness with only one protagonist. I can also see how some readers might dislike the ending. There was nothing pat or neatly wrapped up about it. I didn't mind that personally. It was a pleasure not to end up where I thought we were going.

>80 BLBera: I'll be curious as to your take if/when you get to it, Beth. Have you read anything else by Jones?

>81 ursula: Aha! We scour your thread, Ursula, didn't you feel our eyes upon you? Lol.

>82 japaul22: It's not a long book, Jennifer, and this is what I wrote in my review:

What does it mean to say you are sorry? That you regret what happened, whether for the distress it caused yourself or others? That you wished it had never happened? That you wish there were a way to atone? Perhaps it is said as a summation, a closing ritual, either expected or received in surprise, unaware of the silent emotions of the sorry one. Can you know the meaning of another's sorry-ness, of another's sorrow? If saying you are sorry is open to interpretation, how much more so then, the failure to say you are sorry. The expectant pause in the story, the silent internal debate, perhaps an ignorant obliviousness or a nonchalant callousness. What is gained or lost with sorry being said or left unsaid?

A whisper: sssshh. The thinnest vehicle of breath.

This is a story that can only be told in a whisper...

'Don't tell them," she said. That was all:
Don't tell them.

...And when for comfort we held hands, overlapping, as girls do, in riddled ways, in secret understandings and unspoken allegiances, the sticky stuff of my father's life bound us like sisters.

So begins the first page of this devastatingly beautiful novel about Perdita, her family, and the ways in which speech and silence can each be a salve and a torment.

Perdita's parents met in England and married with the air of Well, that's done. Neither Stella or Nicholas was looking for romance, and their sterile togetherness reflects their egocentric emptiness. Stella lives in a Shakespearian world that only she can navigate, reciting long passages from the tragedies as her way of interpreting and interacting with the world around her. Nicholas, too, is lost in his own world, composed of imagined academic success as an anthropologist and later of manly posturings overlaying his deep sense of impotence at not being able to join up in WWII. Completely self-absorbed and living in isolated fantasies, the couple has a child shortly after leaving England to live in the West Australian outback, where Nicholas can make his name as the translator of the Aborigines.

Perdita is left to flourish or not in this wrack of a family. When Stella enters a deep post-natal depression, fueled by the emotional extremes of Shakespearian tragedy, Perdita is nursed by two Aborigine servants. Growing up, Perdita exists on the edges of two worlds, the one inhabited by her parents, and the one shown her by the Aborigine people who live on the fringes of that world. When she is ten, Nicholas takes Stella to the clinic in town where she rests, off and on, for much of Perdita's childhood. On the way home, he stops at a convent and takes on Mary, a sixteen year old Aborigine orphan, as a cook and tutor for his daughter. Instantly, Mary and Perdita are bound by a love based on sisterhood, shared hardship, and need. Together with Billy, the deaf-mute neighbor boy, they find and share the affection and community that each lacks.

War intensifies the ugliness of Stella and Nicholas's declines, and then something horrific happens, and the children are torn apart. Perdita is cast into silence and withdraws into herself, until she feels as hardened and dead as an ammonite. Her struggle to find herself and regain her voice is a story that tears at the heart. What secrets does her silence hold, and will she herself ever know?

Evocative of the fears and determination of the war years and eloquent on the beauty of the outback and the generous kinship of the Aborigine, Sorry is a novel rooted in wartime Australia. Yet the story stretches beyond the particular into the nature of introspection and the use of language to create and maintain identity. The language is beautiful, the story heartbreaking, and the ideas thought provoking. Read this novel. You won't be sorry.

Nov 19, 11:04 am

I haven't read anything by Jones, Lisa, but I will be looking for books by her after your comments.

Nov 19, 3:26 pm

>84 labfs39: Great review!

Editado: Nov 19, 6:47 pm

>83 rocketjk: I’ve never heard of the dog food, Kibble. A well-known dog food in Australia is “Meals for Mutts”

The Kibble Literary Awards recognizes the work of established Australian female writers. Nita Kibble (1879–1962) was the first woman to be a librarian with the State Library of New South Wales. She was Principal Research Librarian from 1919 until her retirement in 1943, and was a founding member of the Australian Institute of Librarians.

You can see a list of past recipients HERE

Jones has received many other awards, and was notable nominated for the prestigious Australian Miles Franklin Award.

On googling I see all Gail Jones’books have all been published since I lived in America.

Nov 19, 6:44 pm

>84 labfs39: It seems I’ve missed out on a lot of Australian novels. I still read Australian books but tend to read authors I already know about such as Tim Winton, Christos Tsiolkas and Richard Flanagan.

The problem for me is that the newer Australian writers have not yet been published on audio. I just have to wait.

Nov 19, 7:48 pm

You've convinced me - I just started Sorry.

Nov 20, 9:06 am

>87 kjuliff: Thanks for that, and also for tolerating both my lame joke and my laziness in not looking up the history of the award's name myself. I assumed the award was named after someone admirable. Again, sincere thanks for the info, and I have put Jones on my radar as someone to look out for next time I'm in a bookstore. All the best.

Nov 20, 2:48 pm

>70 labfs39: Very nice review of the Gail Jones; an a nice re-visit for me (pssst, I know someone who has possibly 8 of her books:-)

Nov 20, 6:15 pm

>91 avaland: Now I’m getting really jealous. There aren’t any on audio here in the US. Possibly a copyright thing. I’ve read about her books and they all sound like books I’d really like.

Nov 21, 7:31 am

>85 BLBera: I'm looking forward to reading more by her as well, Beth.

>86 japaul22: Thanks, Jennifer!

>88 kjuliff: I am woefully ignorant of Australian authors, Kate. Maybe this coming year I can try and read more Aussie authors. I have five unread books on my shelves, including ones by Flanagan and Winton, and several more on my wishlist, including Salonika Burning and Black Mirror by Gail Jones. I'm astonished that not more Australian lit is available on audio. Are you able to borrow e-books from an Australian library somehow?

>89 japaul22: Lol, let me know what you think! I hope all this talk about it hasn't overhyped it.

>91 avaland: Ha, ha, Lois. Maybe when I return Five Bells, you'll let me borrow some more!

>92 kjuliff: :-(

Nov 21, 7:40 am

A special shoutout to friends who have winged a couple of books my way:

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan


State of Emergency by Jeremy Tiang

Thank y'all!

Editado: Nov 21, 9:11 am

>94 labfs39: Re - So late in the Day - I was disappointed that at least two of the three stories in this collection have been published before in Clare Keegan’s other collections. See my review here .

Nov 21, 12:19 pm

>95 kjuliff: Since all I've read by Keegan is Foster, it will all be new to me. :-)

Editado: Nov 21, 12:45 pm

>96 labfs39: I understand. But I think better to go with Antarctica for a short story collection as there are more than three stories and the stories offer you a range of her work. My gripe with So Late in the Day was at least two of the three were reprints from other books.

Nov 21, 2:32 pm

>94 labfs39: Did the book already arrive?

Nov 21, 4:36 pm

>97 kjuliff: I think interest in Keegan is high right now, so publishers are bundling old stuff with new to keep churning out the books.

>98 RidgewayGirl: It did, thank you!

Nov 21, 5:18 pm

>99 labfs39: Yes, definitely the publishers. The real creators in the arts have little say nowadays as to how their products are marketed. And with Christmas coming it’s economically advantageous to bundle a few stories together.

See if you can listen to Keegan read the title story. I think I posted the link in my review on my post of so Late in the Day. I think you can listen to a set number of New Yorker audios without signing up.

Nov 22, 7:30 am

It warmed up enough overnight to snow. Yesterday morning it was 18F and didn't get to freezing all day. Overnight it warmed up and snowed 3". Sigh. I guess winter is really here.

Do you like to read wintry books when it snows (or hot, sandy reads in summer)? Yesterday the protagonist in the book I was reading was in an icy seascape, and it just made me feel colder.

>200 I'll make a note and stick it in the book to try the audio. Thanks for the suggestions, Kate.

Nov 22, 10:54 am

>101 labfs39: Re SLitD. it’s a pretty short story, but has that edgy feel so many of Keegan’s stories have.

No snow here in NYC. I love the look of NYC immediately after a decent snowfall in New York, before it turns black. Last winter there was no real snow at all. Even though I’ve been in NY for over 20 years I still get excited when it snows. Meanwhile in Australia everyone is getting ready for beach holidays.

Nov 22, 2:43 pm

>101 labfs39: I like the weather in my books to be opposite of what I'm experiencing. Accounts of polar exploration should be read on the beach or on the back porch during a heat wave. Novels set in the tropics read best when I'm wearing wool socks. Hoping you're warm and cozy inside, Lisa.

Nov 22, 7:47 pm

>103 RidgewayGirl: I agree! I hate the D.C. summers - they are so hot and humid and I work outside. So I love to read a polar exploration book or something set in a cold climate during the summer. Since I enjoy winter, I usually don't seek out summery books in winter.

Nov 23, 10:10 am

>102 kjuliff: I don't think I've ever seen NYC with fresh snow. Whenever I've been, and when my MIL was alive that was fairly often, the snow was always dirty and in the way. The snow that fell here Tuesday night did not melt, despite the steady rain yesterday (how is that possible?) and is now a treacherous, frozen mess. That's what I get for trusting in rain and not shoveling.

>103 RidgewayGirl: Perhaps I need to read Desert next. It's as opposite as I can find at the moment. Unless I reread The Inferno.

>104 japaul22: That hot, humid weather has been creeping northward. I'm with you, Jennifer, I much prefer the cold of winter over the swelter of summer.

Nov 23, 10:18 am

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who partake. I am off to my sister's in a bit for some turkey. I don't think I'll have time to write my review of House of Rust before I leave, but I did finish it this morning. I had planned to read it in June for the African challenge, but didn't read much over the summer. Thanks to Ardene/markon for bringing the book to my attention, I really enjoyed it.

Nov 23, 10:26 am

I was brushing up on the history of the American Thanksgiving holiday and was interested to learn that the Wampanoag, who graciously aided the Pilgrims and helped them survive (to the the Wampanoag's ultimate detriment), celebrated thanksgiving every month (in addition to their usual prayers of thanksgiving). I was particularly interested in the thanks given to the first tapping of maple trees each year and to the cranberry harvest.

Editado: Nov 23, 3:10 pm

>105 labfs39: Lisa you can see my condo’s little park in Manhattan.
HERE. This was taken a few years ago.

Nov 23, 3:04 pm

>108 kjuliff: Pretty! It's in the 40s today, so it's finally melting here. This morning my driveway was Slick.

Nov 23, 4:56 pm

I like this cover, designed by Rachel Holscher.

The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber
Published 2021, 258 p.

Every day people are dying and being born, only men can leave those who depend on them behind and still be called brave. A woman is not praised when she suffers, she is praised for suffering in silence.

This debut novel by Kenyan author Khadija Abdalla Bajaber is a fascinating blend of allegory, fable, and coming of age, set in the author's hometown of Mombasa. Here Islamic faith abuts African myth, traditional storytelling has a rich history, and the sea is omnipresent and both watches and bears watching.

Aisha is the only child of Ali, a fisherman who is at sea more than at home, drawn by a compulsion to go beyond the boundaries even other fisherman are careful not to cross. Her mother having died when she was young, Aisha is allowed at first to accompany her father, but she fails some unspoken test and is thereafter relegated to shore and her grandmother's company. This is an uneasy pairing, as her grandmother wants her to be a docile, obedient girl eager for marriage, none of which are things that Aisha can be. When Ali fails to return from one of his fishing trips, his mother gives him five days in which to reappear or she will have him declared dead. Aisha, however, is determined to find him and bring him back.

The first half of the book is about Aisha's quest on a boat made of bones conjured by a talking cat. She faces three trials which comprise a sort of rite of passage. The novel could have ended at this point with a tidy, if fantastical, coming of age story, but instead the author explores Aisha's life after her adventure. Although Aisha was always regarded as unusual, now she has been changed in ways that make even the local wildlife wary of her. How does one live after such an adventure? What does one owe one's family and village, and what must one do to be true to oneself?

I enjoyed this unusual novel, and with the exception of a transition period between the two halves of the book, I thought the writing was interesting and fresh. The author uses local words and phrases which reinforces the sense of place. I became invested in the characters and part of me hopes the author writes a sequel so that we may learn more about Hamza and the mysterious House of Rust and Aisha's journey's out into the wider world. A promising debut novel.

The House of Rust was the inaugural winner of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize. Awarded to a manuscript by an author residing primarily in Africa, the award was founded "to facilitate direct access to publishing in the United States for a new generation of African writers."

Nov 23, 4:56 pm

Another quote: Aisha forced the wound her rage and fear had slashed to knit itself; practiced little hands stitched back her composure efficiently, as they had done thousands of times before. Then, shutting the door of her heart closed, she sat down again.

Nov 24, 8:12 am

Happy Friday, Lisa. Thanks for dropping by my thread. I somehow unstarred your thread, so you have been off my radar. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. How is Apeirogon? I have had that one on my TBR for ages and I really like McCann too. I also have the latest Keegan on my TBR.

I am currently immersed in Prophet Song, which I highly recommend.

Nov 24, 8:30 am

>110 labfs39: how interesting. Great review

Nov 24, 8:35 am

>112 msf59: can’t wait till The Prophet Song comes out in audio. Looking forward tío your review. Stuck u\in a hiatus now. Feel like reading something with a storyline like House of Doors. Usually this time of year I goo through the Booker long list. Anything you can recommend there? I’ve. Read Old Gods Time.

Apeirogon is brilliant.

Nov 25, 3:42 pm

>112 msf59: Hi Mark, I think Apeirogon was the wrong book for me to try on audio. It has a lot of very short chapters (sometimes only one sentence), and I find it choppy to listen to. But I'm not a very experienced audiobook consumer, so others may not have that problem.

>113 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan.

>114 kjuliff: I haven't been in the car alone, which is when I play my audiobook, for a while, so I need to get going again. I may try to borrow a copy of the book from the library, as I think that may work better for me with this particular book.

Nov 25, 3:53 pm

>115 labfs39: Yes Apeirogon was a good read on audio. It’s easy to break into short reads. I look forward to your review.

Nov 25, 4:08 pm

I never read political memoirs, so I wasn't particularly looking forward to this book club selection. In addition, I am easily overwhelmed by the negativity of our current political situation in the US, to which I see no solutions, at least not in the short term. So I started the book thinking that I would read just enough to be able to participate at book club on Monday.

I'll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House by Stephanie Grisham
Published 2021, 329 p.

Stephanie Grisham joined the Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2016 as a junior press wrangler, responsible for getting the press in and out of briefings and meetings. Over the next five years she would rise through the ranks as the First Ladies' communication director, White House communications director and press secretary, and then the First Ladies' Chief of Staff. In an administration with very high turnover, her tenure is quite remarkable. On January 6, 2021, she resigned amidst the chaos of the riots at the Capitol, the first, but not only one to do so. In her book, Grisham walks through some of the pivotal issues and scandals that plagued the administration in a chatty way, telling some funny stories, giving some context to a few incidents she was involved in, and explaining why she served the Trump family so long and why she ultimately left.

I have not read a lot of political memoirs and tend to avoid them, but was pleasantly surprised at not being able to put this one down. Whether it was the informal tone, often humorous, or the fact that the times she describes is like, as she writes, "a clown car on fire running at full speed into a warehouse full of fireworks." There is no easy way to verify the accuracy of her account, and I was a bit annoyed at her habit of inserting quotes, such as at the beginning of chapters, without attribution. She is, after all, an expert at political communications, so who knows the degree of spin being used. Still, it was an entertaining read, if not particularly revelatory.

Nov 25, 6:00 pm

>117 labfs39: man, I struggle to fight the need to yell at these people, "how you expect anyone to take you seriously after you made that choice to support that thing." But this sounds entertaining. Appreciate your review and wish you a great discussion.

I see your fighting Apeirogon a bit. Good luck. I had some issues with it (the book, not the nonfiction story it tells, which is powerful)

Nov 26, 8:51 am

>118 dchaikin: I was pleasantly surprised by the book. The fact that is was happening in the past helped. Things like the Thanksgiving message are harder to find hear without grinding my teeth.

Nov 26, 8:58 am

Last night I started my first work on Serial Reader, a free app that allows you to read a public domain work on your phone in 20 minute sections a day. Others on LT have used it to tackle longer works that they never seem to get to, but I started with a short piece to see how I like it. There was a surprising number of works to choose from, and I selected The Captain's Daughter by Pushkin. My daughter paid the $2.50 one-time fee to support the person who does this as a labor of love, and she can read on if she chooses. I just get the 20 minute section. I was able to adjust the font size and background color for optimal reading in bed. So far, so good!

Editado: Ontem, 8:40 pm

Tonight's discussion of I'll Take Your Questions Now was fairly predictable as everyone there was on the same side of the political divide. Most agreed that it was surprisingly entertaining, but with no smoking guns or deep insights.

ETA: Our book for December will be Dictionary of Lost Words, which I'm much more excited about reading.

Editado: Ontem, 9:27 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Editado: Ontem, 9:28 pm

I do hope they like it better than my group did. BTW she has a new book the book binder of Jericho which Im eager to get to (not sure why the touchstone isnt working...)