Sample Sunday Scrutinises Unread Books: Ds

Sample Sunday is an opportunity to check all the books on my shelves and decide what to keep

I’m moving through my shelves of unread books to decide which to keep, this week landing on a few whose author’s name begins with the letter D.

Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor

Bitter Fruit is a 2004 Booker-prize shortlisted novel set in a post-apartheid South Africa presided over by Nelson Mandela. The narrative explores the damaging legacy of the country’s political past through the lives of one family: a high ranking civil servant, his wife and their only son. The wife was the victim of a racially-motivated rape by a white policeman twenty years earlier. They’ve never talked about that attack, not to each other or to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But news that the policeman is now seeking amnesty for that crime, awakens all the memories of the past and threatens to de-stabilise their marriage.

The Verdict: I’m thinking this is one to keep. I do enjoy novels set in South Africa, particularly ones that focus on the issues raised by the apartheid policy.

The Silver Pigs by Lindsay Davis

The first title in a crime fiction series set in ancient Rome, this novel introduces Marcus Didius Falco, in the role of the “detective”. He’s a low-life informer whose normal working day consists of spying on adulterous husbands for jealous wives. But in this plot he goes to the aid of a pretty young girl who is fleeing for her life, and ends up uncovering a ring of conspirators who want to destroy the Roman Empire.

The Verdict: I bought this on a whim in a library sale thinking it might be fun – a bit like the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. But I’ve never felt drawn to read it so I’m going to let it go. I have more than enough crime fiction among my stack of unread books.

The Diary Of A Provincial Woman by E M Delafield

A fictional journal detailing how a middle class woman tries to “keep up appearances” while struggling with the privations of the Great Depression. doesn’t sound all that enticing. But I know this is considered a minor “classic” so I did a little research to help inform my decision on whether to keep the book. An article in The Guardian by Kathryn Hughes tipped the balance. She describes it as the “funniest, smartest and most lovable book I have ever read” although she accepts that the title and the appearance of “comedy servants” could be off-putting. But she urges readers to persevere because “if you settle down to read you will find a book that is all about how to accept limitations – your own as well as other peoples’ – with as much good humour and fellow feeling as possible. “

The Verdict: Ok, I’m persuaded to keep this one. It’s out of copyright so there are plenty of editions available. Mine is a lovely green Virago Modern Classic. There is a rather special Persephone edition available which contains the original illustrations.

Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read.What do you think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.

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