BookerTalk

Sunday Salon: Re-connecting to the world

It felt so good to get home yesterday after my two week trek around Asia. No matter how luxurious the hotel, how wonderful the restaurants and how memorable the experiences, there is absolutely nothing as delightful as spending the night in your own bed. It was however not as long an acquaintance as I would have liked – 4am saw me awake (if not particularly alert).

Still the early morning start did give me chance to re-connect with you all and with the world in general. China may be the world economic powerhouse but when it comes to letting its citizens and its visitors access info electronically, it is way behind many other nations. I already knew before I got to the country that media sites like the BBC are blocked and many social media channels like Facebook and Google are restricted. What I hadn’t anticipated was that WordPress was similarly blocked which meant I couldn’t get to my blog site and then something happened which prevented my email system working. Hooray for Korea and Japan where I had no such restrictions but still couldn’t get email to work. Hence why I haven’t been around much. So now I have a lot of catching up to do on all the blogs I follow.

Reading Update

It did mean however I was able to read quite a lot. On the spur of the moment I picked up the very hefty paperback of The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel from 2014. I knew I would be reading this at some point as part of my Booker project but I’d been debating whether to get the e-version rather than lug a really big book. But one look at the copy in the airport was enough to persuade me that only the real book would work if I wanted to keep track of all the characters. I’m not much good at keeping details in my head so find character lists helpful – with an e-reader, it’s too cumbersome to keep getting back to the beginning.

So Catton came with me and proved a good companion if not a particularly stellar one. I admire the achievement but am not convinced it really deserved to win the award. More on that another time when I get to write the review.

I don’t often read crime fiction but it just happened that I had an advance copy of the latest in the Chief Inspector Amand Gamache series by Louise Penny on the iPad. It was a delightful chance to re-visit the small community of Three Pines and meet many of the inhabitants again; Ruth the drunk, award-winning poet, Clara the famous painter, Olivier and his partner Gabri who run the bistro and of course, Gamache’s comrade in arms, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir. The Long Way Home will be published late August. If you’ve not read any of Louise Penny’s series so far I promise you are missing out on a treat.

Usually when I’m travelling I like to read something either by an author from the country I’m visiting or set in the country. I took Mo Yan’s Red Sorghum with me but hadn’t started it when a work colleague in Shanghai presented me with Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls. It seemed entirely appropriate to read that one given that my team is located in Shanghai and they’re all female. Although it wouldn’t be what I would class as ‘high literary fiction’ nevertheless i’m enjoying the story of two sisters forced to swap their party lifestyle in 1930s Shanghai for a life of drudgery and poverty in San Francisco.

So that’s all my news for now. What’s happening in your neck of the world??

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