LIBRARY TOUR: PART 3

Hi. At some point or other, I’m going to integrate this, my literacy blog, with my writing blog over at garantseraph.blogspot.jp.  But for now, I thought I would take you back on my virtual tour through the bookshelves at the Nagoya International Centre.  I wrote a massive post on world literature and classics that got lost, so I guess, I’ll have to go back to doing that.  Well, actually, in this life there are very few things that you HAVE TO do.  I choose to do this, because its a worthwhile and interesting project.  I might let you guys in on a little secret.  Are you listening.  Come a little closer.  Are you ready.  I’m not gay.  No just kidding.  There would be absolutely nothing wrong with that in my opinion at least.  I want to stay as far away as possible from controversy.  Att least on one blog.  I do have some interesting things to say on Garantseraph recently.  This is basically my all ages blog or intended to be.  My secret is this (and I do have one): I’m really struggling to read right now.  I don’t know why.  I just am.  So I’m reviewing some of the books I have read previously.

GENRE 7: World Literature

Writers of the commonwealth.

The Man Booker prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in world literature.  The winner may be from any country of the old British Empire, so long as the novel’s author has written the book in English.  Thus, Canada, South Africca and Australia feature heavily.  The International centre has books by Yann Martel, Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood, Alex Miller, Christos Tsolkias, JM Coetzee, Shirley Hazard, Timothy Findley and Thomas Kenneally.  Coetze is okay, but I find his prose style a little dry.  Carey can be good, and I would recommend the Secret History of the Kelly Gang as an interesting read.  I love dystopic science fiction so from Margaret Atwood I would have to pick the Handmaid’s Tale.  Life of Pi is an excellent novel.  Its a meditation aor parable on the nature of faith in my opinion.  I have heard excellent things about the Canadian novellist Timothy Findley.  There is writer too called Austen Clarke whose books like quite interesting.  I didn’t really enjoy Geraldine Brooks, although others loved her novels.  Shirley Hazard has written a novel about the Great Fire of London that is highly regarded.  Oh yeah.  Everyone should read Schindler’s List by Thomas Kennealy.  He and Peter Carey are probably regarded as Australia’s greatest writers.  Alex Miller and Christos Tsolkias are less famous but probably worth a read.  The Slap tends to polarise people, though.  It seems to be a love it or hate it, take it or leave it kind of book.  My friend was really into it.  He also greatly enjoyed Paulina Simmons, although I found it hard to get past all of the italics.

No Grant, you are missing the point, my friend would have said to me, I think

I have no idea why, but I found that technique so distracting. Finally, I want to make mention of my favorite Australian novel, My Brother Jack by George Johnson.  I read this when I was 16, and found it about the most honestly, self-revealing, truthful novel about brothers, fate or destiny, success and self-interest.  Forget the fact it starts slowly, and you too may find yourself mesmerised.  For Australian readers, Garth Nix writes excellent young adult fantasy, the Book Thief is another fine book, and Peter Temple writes decent Australian crime.  Shooting Star was okay but I got sick of the other one.  He has won a lot of major prizes, though.

Other world literature.

This libray has an extensive array of novels from other countries.  You can read about South America through Isabel Allende (Chile) or Gabriel Marcia Marquez (Columbia); China through Beijing Coma or Soul Mountain or Miss Chopsticks.  Most of Umberto Eco is there if you like ppost-modernism.  I like Italo Calvino although the library doesn’t have my favorite books of his.  There are two or three books by Milan Kundera, a writer who should have already won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He really is great.  I recommend you start your journey where I did 15 years ago with Immortality.  I love that novel so much.  There is one story within it that I will never forget.  An old man is on board a ship very much like the Titanic, but he chooses not to evacuate simply because he doesn’t like all of the pushing and shoving.  He would rather go down with the ship than behave in an undigified manner.  Roberto Bolano is now there, and the press for his two bookas the Savage Detectives and 2066 is simply astounding.  Right now, Dr Seuss is more my speed.  But that’s okay.  Please try and see if you can read Jose Saramago and tell me whjat happened at the end of each sentence.  I love his books, but I can only read about 80 pages before I get sick of the level of attention needed to follow his sentences.  I do think he has some of the most amazing writing in the world.  Try Blindness.  It’s a little sparser.  Gunter Grass is another difficult but justly celebrated Nobel Prize winning author.  Try the Tin Drum or just watch the film.  It’s pretty amazing summation of life as a German under Hitler.  The Pianist and Hotel Francaise are also worth checking out for reflections on Jewish experience.  If they still have the Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi also read that.  There isn’t a lot of writing about the Korean experience and so if you would like to check out a writer callled Chang Rae Lee.  Other books which can be recommended are Independent People by Halldor Laxness and the Shadow of the Wind by a young Spanish talent.

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