Book review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro


The Buried GiantThe Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From BBC Radio 4 – Book at Bedtime:
David Suchet reads The Buried Giant, the powerful new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, author of Never Let Me Go and Remains of the Day.

“It’s queer the way the world’s forgetting people and things from only yesterday and the day before that. Like a sickness come over us all.”

The Romans have long since departed and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. In this desolate, uncultivated land of mist and rain, people find that their memories are slipping away from them. They live in an uneasy peace but memories of the wars that once ravaged the country are stirring.

In this time of forgetting, one elderly couple – Axl and Beatrice – are determined to hold onto memories of their life together.

Ishiguro’s first new novel in a decade is a moving, mysterious and deeply philosophical book about how societies remember and forget.

Read by David Suchet
Abridged by Sara Davies
Produced by Mair Bosworth.

Episodes:

1/10 In this time of forgetting, one elderly couple – Axl and Beatrice – are determined to hold onto memories of their life together.

2/10 Axl and Beatrice continue their journey to their’s son village.

3/10 On reaching the Saxon village, Axl and Beatrice find a community in turmoil.

4/10 Axl and Beatrice continue their quest, accompanied by the Saxon warrior Wistam and Edwin.

5/10 The travelers reach an isolated monastery , where the monks give them a reluctant welcome.

6/10 The group shelter an isolated monastery. Pursued by foes, can they trust their hosts?

7/10 After an attack on the monastery, Edwin slips back to find Wistam.

8/10 Axel and Beatrice’s quest takes a new purpose, but it’s taking its toll on Beatrice.

9/10 Axl and Beatrice hope to kill the dragon but begin to fear a time when memory returns.

10/10 With the she-dragon Querig slain and memory restored, the land faces a dark future.

3* Never Let Me Go
4* The Remains of the Day
5* When We Were Orphans
2* The Unconsoled
3* The Buried Giant
TR A Pale View of Hills
TR An Artist of the Floating World

By considering the books I’ve already read and the relevance of Ishiguro’s in the contemporary fiction, this book deserves to be read in its printed version in order to have a fair and comprehensive review.

Updates:

The Telegraph – an exclusive extract from Kazoo Ishiguro’s long awaited new novel

Review – NYTimes

In the Buried Giant Ishiguro revisits memory and denial

Review – NYTimes

Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction – 2015 Shortlist announced


The shortlist for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2015 has been announced, at a reception at 50 Albemarle Street, the London home of Walter Scott’s original publisher John Murray. The shortlist comprises seven titles, reflecting the astonishing breadth and diversity of books entered in a bumper year for the Prize.

The shortlist is:

THE ZONE OF INTEREST by Martin Amis (Jonathan Cape)

THE LIE by Helen Dunmore (Windmill)

VIPER WINE by Hermione Eyre (Jonathan Cape)

IN THE WOLF’S MOUTH by Adam Foulds (Jonathan Cape)

ARCTIC SUMMER by Damon Galgut (Atlantic)

A GOD IN EVERY STONE by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury)

THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS by John Spurling (Duckworth)

Announcing the shortlist, the Chair of Judges Alistair Moffat said:

“We had a record number of entries, our most extensive longlist and, as a result, our longest shortlist since the first Walter Scott Prize in 2010. This list of seven fantastic novels represents the diversity and breadth of style that the genre of historical fiction now encompasses – from the poetic to the experimental, and from satire to adventure, writing set in the past can challenge, excite and innovate in a hundred different ways.

“Our 2015 shortlist could easily have been longer, but we hope we have represented the vibrancy of historical writing published in this last year, as well as a broad range of global settings from colonial India to fourteenth century China, Europe during the two world wars, and seventeenth century England.”

The winner will be announced on 13th June 2015, at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival.

The Man Booker International Prize 2015 Finalists’ List Announced


Ten writers are on the judges’ list of finalists under serious consideration for the sixth Man Booker International Prize , the £60,000 award which recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction.

  • The authors come from ten countries with six new nationalities included on the list for the first time. They are from Libya, Mozambique, Guadeloupe, Hungary, South Africa and Congo
  • None of the writers has  appeared on a previous Man Booker International Prize list of finalists
  • The proportion of writers translated into English is greater than ever before at 80%

The finalists’ list is announced by the chair of judges, Professor Marina Warner, at a press conference hosted at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, today, Tuesday 24 March 2015.

The ten authors on the list are:

The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2015 consists of writer and academic, Professor Marina Warner (Chair); novelist Nadeem Aslam; novelist, critic and Professor of World Literature in English at Oxford University, Elleke Boehmer; Editorial Director of the New York Review Classics series, Edwin Frank, and Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London, Wen-chin Ouyang.

Book review: Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking


Travelling to Infinity: My Life with StephenTravelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This the kind of book which you either love or hate.

Certainly, if you watched the movie, you’ll love it, even if I haven’t done yet. All the romantics aspects would be some way exacerbated.

If you are a fan of memoir/biography books you will find a mixture of everything in this book, such as: their personal lives (yes!), mixed with some hints of physics (of course) and history of science (in a biography?).

In summary, even the idea of the author seems brilliant, she looses the main plot by trying to explain everything to us, poor readers.

If you really want to know more about Stephen Hawking, please read his book A Brief History of Time.

Update:

Daily Mail review.

Book review: The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton


The Winthrop WomanThe Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of Elizabeth Fones with a historical background of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Elizabeth was a nice of John Winthrop and she marries Harry Winthrop, her first cousin.

When the Winthrop family decides to move the New World, they become founding members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston.

The population of this colony was governed by the Puritanism and John Winthrop is elected as the Governor of this colony.

According to Wiki , “the word puritan is often used to describe someone who adheres to strict moral or religious principles.” In this context, John Winthrop and the other main leaders of emigration to New England in 1629 were non-separating Puritans. In other words, they were “puritans who were not satisfied with the Reformation of the Church of England, but who remained within the Church of England advocating further reforms.”


Engraving showing Winthrop’s arrival at Salem.

As soon as Elizabeth lands in Massachusetts, she learns that Henry had drowned in a boating accident – they travelled in different ships to America.

Elizabeth will marry twice until the end of the book. During her second marriage, she and her Indian servant Telaka are accused of being possessed by the devil. As consequence, Elizabeth’s family is banished from the colony and moved to Greenwich, which was governed by the Dutch law.

However, Elizabeth’s misfortunes doesn’t end there, on the contrary: by falling in love with her third husband, she is accused of adultery since “divorce” at that time was inadmissible within this Puritan society.

Some hints about the Pequot War is given during the narrative.

Since Anya Seton is one of the best historical fiction authors in my humble opinion. this book may be considered as another masterpiece written by this author.

Another unforgettable classic masterpiece about this subject is the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

 

4* Katherine
4* Green Darkness
5* Dragonwyck
5* Avalon
4* The Winthrop Woman
TR Devil Water

Book review: Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates


CarthageCarthage by Joyce Carol Oates

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of the Mayfield’s family: Zeno and his wife and two sisters, Juliet, who is engaged to Brett Kincaid, and Cressida, a misfit and possibly autistic girl.

After the tourists attack of 9/11, Juliet’s fiancee decides to enlist. However, he came home severely injured and baldly traumatized by Iraq war.

After the subtle Cressida’s disappearance in the wilds of Adirondacks, who was alleged raped and murdered by Bret Kincaid he confess the crime with his blurred memoirs of the war.

No body is found and Kincaid is accused go Cressida’s murder and he is sent to the death row.

But since nothing seems as it looks like, Cressida reappears alive but suffering with a grave case of pneumonia.

Another splendid book by Joyce Carol Oates.

3* Missing Mom
4* Carthage
TR Marya
TR Bellefleur
TR Jack of Spades
TR We Were the Mulvaneys
TR The Falls
TB Blonde
TR The Accursed
TR Black Water
TR The Virgin in the Rose Bower
TR A Garden of Earthly Delights

Book review: I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith


I Am LiviaI Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the first novel written by Phyllis Smith.

The plot describes Livia Drusilla’s life, being the daughter of Marcus Livius Drusus Claudianus by his wife Aufidia.

The book starts with the assassination of Julius Caesar. Her first marriage was with Tiberius Claudius Nero, her cousin of patrician status who was fighting with er father on the side of Julius Caesar’s assassins against Octavian. She had two children, namely Tiberius and Drusus.

But her true love was the emperor Augustus but she wasn’t able to produce an heir to his throne.

The book doesn’t bring anything new to the well-known Livia’s life: it depicts all facts which are described by Wikipedia.

Additionally, the writer doesn’t employ the ordinary historical fiction’s style of writing, on the contrary, this book is mostly a historical romance than anything else. For further details, please take a look at Twelvejan’s review.

Livia’s like was described in several other books such as: I Claudius, by Robert Graves and Antony and Cleopatra, the last novel in Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series.

A movie, written by Eric Lerner, was made based on Augustus’ life: Imperium: Augustus (2003), with Peter O’Toole, Charlotte Rampling, Vittoria Belvedere. This movie is available at YouTube.