Sunday salon: New acquisitions

garden readingSunday greetings from one very hot reader. Here in the UK we’re going through a very hot spell and unusually this one is sticking around for a while.  Even though my garden is in desperate need of some attention it’s far too hot to do anything much beyond pruning the rose bushes and deadheading some border plants. On a day like this there really is only one thing in the garden I want to do and that’s to sit in it with a good book and a glass of something cold.

  • Which makes it fortuitous that I stocked up my reading shelves yesterday. I can hear you saying “I thought you weren’t buying any books till you’d cleared that TBR collection???” I have indeed been doing well on that front – more on that another time – but I had gone to the library to pick up The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan which had finally become available and then found the library was having a book sale. I couldn’t resist taking a look as you might expect and found some titles that will be good additions for my world literature reading project.

So now I’m set up for a lovely few hours of reading. And all I have to decide is which of these to open first.

  • An Elergy for Easterly which is  a collection of short stories by the Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah
  • The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki. This was long listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction (now renamed the Baileys Prize) in 2012. This is the fifth novel by Farooki,  who was born Pakistan to a literary family but now lives in London. It’s about a somewhat shady character who travels around the world adopting a different persona in each country.
  • A book by another Pakistani author caught my eye. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2009. It’s a noel about the shared histories of two families, moving from the final days of the second world war in Japan, and India on the brink of partition in 1947, to Pakistan in the early 1980s, New York in the aftermath of September 11 and Afghanistan in the wake of the resulting US bombing campaign.
  • I’ve never read anything by Mario  Vargas Llosa, the 2010 Nobel Prize winner for literature , nor have I read anything by a Peruvian author so when I spotted Llosa’s The Dream of the Celt, it seemed an opportunity too good to miss. It actually isn’t set in South America but in Ireland where a hero of Irish Nationalism awaits the hangman’s noose having been convicted of treason.

I would have been happy with just those four but the library was offering a discount if you bought five so onto my pile went one book that has nothing to do with world literature: Jennifer Egan’s Look at Me. I have A Visit from the Goon Squad but have yet to open it so I have no idea whether I will like her style. This one predates Goon Squad by 10 years. It’s about a model who is trying to return to life after a catastrophic car accident which so badly impacted her face, she needed 80 screws to fix the back in place. Unrecognisable and unable to return to her former work, she drifts into drink and despair.

If these were your new acquisitions which would you read first?

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on July 20, 2014, in Pakistani authors, South & Central American authors, Sunday Salon, world literature and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Gave in to the library book sale! Those things are irresistible aren’t they? I hope you had a nice day of reading and I hope it has cooled off!

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  2. Oooh, Karen, I would’ve had trouble resisting those books, too! Such is the life of bibliophiles *sigh* lol

    Not sure on the books, though. Some sound like very deep, sad subjects and me, with my long TBR, too, I’d probably be drawn to the short stories. I was thinking that inviting chair and garden would be even more inviting had it been in the shade! I hope you enjoyed your reading 🙂

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  3. I’d recommend The Goon Squad, but I might be inclined to steer you towards The Flying Man, because I’m curious about that one. But read the book that calls you most; if you listen you’ll know …

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  4. I enjoyed Egan’s Look at Me, but not the Goon Squad. But lots of people did love it. Hope you do, too.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  5. I really enjoyed dream of the Celt he is always fun to read as he hasn’t for me written a bad book

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  6. An Elegy for Easterly is brilliant – short stories of the finest kind. I can recommend them highly. Happy reading 🙂

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  7. These all look like great reads to me. Here is Wisconsin we have had an unusual summer. I haven’t turned the air conditioner yet. Now after writing that we will probably have a heat wave.

    Happy Reading!!

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  8. All of these sound great! I too have Look at Me. Bought on Kindle for a very cheap price. Will probably read it before I get back to France. While I’m vacationing on the States I will be exclusively reading on my iPad and trying not to acquire too many books. 😁

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  9. I don’t know. I think I’d probably read The Flying Man, just because of taking on different personas sounds sort of cool :).

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  10. A friend sent me a Visit from the Goon Squad, but I, too, have yet to read it. My choice would be the Egan first, but that’s mostly due to what I’ve been reading lately (murder and mayhem)

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  11. I would start with “An Elergy..” based on the fact it’s a set of short stories, so you should be able to pick up and put down between the other books whilst feeling you’ve achieved something

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  12. Looks like you’ve got some really interesting reads! Burnt Shadows sounds fascinating. I don’t remember liking Look at Me as much as Egan’s other two books (loved Goon Squad). How was The Luminaries? Need to put that one on my list.

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