Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Global Novel by Adam Kirsch

I requested this book as soon as I read the title. It sounded interesting, and I'm always keen on seeing what people think about novels. The Global Novel is a discussion on the subject of world literature. It starts pretty abruptly, plunging the reader straight into a discussion on the criticisms against the subject of world literature.
"The question of whether world literature can exist - in particular, whether the novel, the preeminent modern genre of exploration and explanation, can be "global" - is another way of asking whether a meaningfully global consciousness can exist."
In other words, the stakes are high. After the introductory chapter, the author goes on to discuss:

Snow, by Orhan Pamuk
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels.

I didn't quite get the sense of an overarching argument, but it was an interesting discussion. I haven't read many of the books (and I don't really feel like reading any of them other than Ferrante and Murakami after reading this), but I was able to follow the discussion along. Perhaps I didn't get as much depth as I would if I had read the books, but it did make me think. In fact, this line by Mizumura made me think:
"Bilinguals [will] start taking their own country's literature less seriously than literature written in English - especially the classics of English literature, which are evolving into the universal cannon." 
It did give me pause because I read primarily in English, even though I'm technically trilingual. I don't read in Chinese (not unless it's Chinese comics, and even that is rare and limited to my childhood) and now I'm wondering how much I've missed by neglecting one language.

This is probably aimed mainly at students of literature, but anyone curious about the world of literature might be interested in this.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom

Every time I finished a Matthew Shardlake book I'm like "I need to read more of this" but my TBR is making that very hard to do. Anyway, I decided to move this to the top of the list because I really, really wanted to read another one of the books after listening to the BBC radio adaptation of it.

The fire in Dark Fire refers to Greek Fire, which is this near weapon used by the Byzantine empire that could burn on water.

In this book, Lord Cromwell tasks Matthew Shardlake with discovering the formula to Greek Fire. In return, he gives Matthew a stay of execution for a girl that he's trying to defend. And while juggling two murder cases is not an easy feat for anyone, Matthew must do so knowing that if he fails, Cromwell falls (he doesn't like the guy but it's still going to make things worse for him).

Helping him for the first time is Barak, Cromwell's servant. I actually knew Barak as Matthew's assistant so it was a bit of a surprise to see them start on such rough footing. But the differences in their personalities made them an interesting pair and I liked seeing how their friendship (and how Barak stops judging Guy for being different) developed.

The mystery was fantastic and the historical setting even better. This may have been a really thick book, but I finished it faster than expected because each chapter was so short that I kept reading on.

I also thought the story was pretty well-balanced. Lord Cromwell's task is given precedence, but the other murder is investigated periodically, so I never felt like Matthew had forgotten about it.

If you're into historical mysteries, you need to pick up this series. If not now then yesterday because it is really good. I was actually not that enthused about the first book (although I loved the sixth, which was actually my introduction to the series), but I absolutely enjoyed this book and my expectations for the rest of the series just became higher.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Teaser Tuesday - The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

Hey everyone!

I've not been reading much - just here and there before and after work. But I have been trying to catch up on the weekends and because of that, I feel a mystery reading binge coming on! Right now, I'm reading The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham. It's a pretty fun read so far!

My teaser:
"They were getting on like a house o fire. He had begun with his nearest and dearest, and Meg Elginbrodde had been subjected to a catechism which had not only satisfied but scandalised the sergeant."
What about you? What are you reading now and how do you find it?

How to participate in Teaser Tuesday:  
•Grab your current read 
• Open to a random page 
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

Monday, May 22, 2017

From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell by Susan Rowland

This is one of the two books that I've managed to finish last week (at the rate I'm going, I'll have to take a hiatus from the blog/cut down on blogging dramatically because I will eventually run out of reviews :p)

Despite the unfortunate cover (sorry but I think it looks boring), I found this to be a fascinating read! It's an analysis of the works of 6 queens of crime:

Agatha Christie
Dorothy L. Sayers
Margery Allingham
Ngaio Marsh
P. D. James
Ruth Rendell (also writing as Barbara Vine)

The book opens with very short biographies of the six women and then it starts the analysis. Each chapter covers one topic and the topics are:

- Gender and the mystery genre
- Class issues
- England and its colonial legacy
- Psychoanalysis and the genre
- The influence of gothic literature
- "Spiritual detection" (actually I didn't really understand this chapter)
- Feminism and the genre (I really like the title of this chapter 'Feminism is Criminal')

I found the writing style to be a lot more accessible than the Christie book on her film adaptations (though still on the academic side) but you really should have read a majority of these women's works if you want to fully understand the book. I haven't read Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham so I couldn't appreciate a lot of the analysis of their works.

That said, this did renew my interest in reading their works because of how interesting the books sound! I feel like reading something from all of them, and the library has at least one of each lady's book in ebook format so I may go on a mystery binge after this!

I would recommend this book to fans of the mystery genre who are looking for a deeper appreciation of some of the mysteries they read! The chapters aren't connected so you can pick up the book and only read what interests you (plus the chapters are broken up into sections by authors + introduction so you don't even have to read the whole thing). If you're a fan of any one of these six authors, you should give the book a go!