This year, I decided to watch and read things out of my comfort zone, like give the non-fiction genre a break, get into Marvel on Netflix and doling out short one liners about life.
Paul Theroux, ‘The Lower River’
Paul Theroux? I’m a big fan. I’ve read almost all his non fiction books and loved each and every single word. So for some fiction, I picked up the ‘The Lower River’. Oh boy, I couldn’t put it down.
If you didn’t read it, then get right into it! It’s heart rate elevating intense.
His descriptions of Africa are so on point and it only takes someone who’s been there to understand the nuances of village life. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from the protagonist’s trip is that it reinforces my opinion of some of the things people do to make themselves feel better. Live your own life.
Amin Maalouf, ‘Samarkand’
My dad was big on Persian poetry. Growing up, it blasted out of his old fashioned radio and then his Ipad. He’d often hear a woman reciting poetry against the background of someone playing Oud, a string instrument. Although I wasn’t an admirer, hearing it in the background was a relief that dad was around and in good spirits.
I recently read that if there’s anything that has been neglected with the death of the Titanic, is that Omar Khayyam’s Rubaaiyat sunk down with it. I never asked dad about poetry despite hearing him recite lines with his friends or to himself all the time. So, I picked up ‘Samarkand’…on a whim. Though it’s historical fiction, it brings to light the history of the Persian empire that flows with the bare facts of Khayyam and charming traditions of the East. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was …Samarkand was once the most beautiful city in the world, revered by poets and historians. The amazing thing about this book is that it’s set along the Silk Road brought to life by the author’s articulate illustrations. Imagination comes in handy. In the second half of the book, the fictional character travels the world in search for love; the Rubaaiyat. It mirrors Khayyam’s ‘autobiography’ in the first part of the book. The spirit of both parts remain the same; Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future. Genius right?
I would NOT forget this below..and no, it had nothing to do with it being in the first few pages of the book. 😉
“Time … has two dimensions, its length is measured by the rhythm of the sun but its depth by the rhythm of passion.”
Alain Mabanckou ‘ Broken Glass’
So I picked up this book in the African Literature section at Kinokuniya, Alain Mabanckou’s Broken Glass. It’s cynical funny, it took me a while to get used to his writing style, it lacked punctuation and it annoyed the hell out of me. I didn’t want to be a loser putting it down and no regrets. It’s pretty much the low down on what a bunch of alcoholics talk about in Congo. I’m sure there’s an element of truth. It’s funny especially when you discuss it with friends who’ve read it. If there’s anything I take from this book is to get over whatever you can’t change.
Franz Kafka ‘ Amerika’
I wanted to know what ‘Kafkaesque’ was all about so I picked up the least Kafkaesque of his books. HA HA! Anyway Amerika is an unfinished novel, I enjoyed it nevertheless. It ended with an eye brow raise ‘what? this is it?’ until I realized it was an unfinished novel published posthumously. I didn’t do my research, but whatever, I enjoyed the book and the translation. A young boy was sent to America for naughty reasons, a prelude to ensuing challenges he faced and how he handled each of them. I thought it was going to lead to something or find a link later in the book, but he just moved on. So for anyone who thinks the grass is always greener, it’s not. Figure yourself out first.
Jessica Jones – NETFLIX
And Finally Jessica Jones! Amazing, I recommend. What I’ve learnt is that Krysten Ritter rocks.