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Pakistani Literature

Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 4:53pm

While Pakistan's people live in turmoil, a cadre of the nation's best authors offers the world a taste of their culture.

Join us as we explore the first books of a powerful new literary tradition, including the works of Kamila Shamsie, Mohammed Hanif, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Nadeem Aslam, and Mohsin Hamid.

Categories: Literature

Book of the Day: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 10:12am

I'm going back a few years for today's Book of the Day. I just finished reading Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and it's one of the most moving books I've read in a long time. It's one of those books that's been recommended to me several times over the years and I'm glad I finally read it. One of the reasons I did read it is because BBC produced a movie version of Birdsong which aired recently in North America. Now I'm looking forward to watching that.

Birdsong tells the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, who in 1910 goes to Picardy, France, to learn the textile business. While there he plunges into a love affair with the young wife of his host, a passion so imperative and consuming that it changes him forever. Several years later, with the outbreak of World War I, he finds himself again in the fields of Picardy, this time as a soldier on the Western Front. A strange, occasionally bitter man, Stephen is possessed of an inexplicable will to survive. He struggles through the hideously bloody battles of the Marne, Verdun, and the Somme (in the last named, thirty thousand British soldiers were killed in the first half hour alone), camps for weeks at a time in the verminous trenches, and hunkers in underground tunnels as he watches many of the companions he has grown to love perish. In spite of everything, Stephen manages to find hope and meaning in the blasted world he inhabits.

Sixty years after war's end, his granddaughter discovers, and keeps, Stephen's promise to a dying man. Sebastian Faulks brings the anguish of love and war to vivid life, and leaves the reader's mind pulsating with images that are graphic and unforgettable. I highly recommend giving this one a try.

Categories: Literature, Book of the Day

Jon McGregor Wins Impac Dublin Award

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 5:22pm

British author Jon McGregor has beaten the Pulitzer prize-winning American writer Jennifer Egan to win the world's richest literary award for his novel Even the Dogs.

McGregor's third novel, the fractured story of an alcoholic who dies between Christmas and New Year, and the drug addicts and derelicts who knew him, was named winner of the 100,000 Euro International Impac Dublin Literary Award on Wednesday evening. Nominations for the prize are received from libraries around the world, with 147 books put forward this year, from Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad to Aminatta Forna's Commonwealth prize-winning novel The Memory of Love and Manitoba author David Bergen's The Matter with Morris.

The international judging panel called Even the Dogs "a fearless experiment" and a "masterpiece of narrative technique". "There is something bracingly generous about Even the Dogs. It credits readers with a willingness to engage with an experiment which requires us to roll up our sleeves and take authorship of the book as we piece together the lives of its characters," said the panel, which included the British novelist Tim Parks and the Trinidadian writer Elizabeth Nunez.

Categories: Awards, New Releases, Literature

Book of the Day: Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 7:49pm

Infamously referred to as the "Hungarian master of the apocalypse" by Susan Sontag, László Krasznahorkai's work has started to receive greater notice in North America over the last decade, both in print and on the screen. A collaborator of the acclaimed Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, Krasznahorkai has served as the director's trusted screenwriter for his past five films, two of which were lifted straight from the page. The basis of their brilliant 6 ˝ hour long second film together, and Krasznahorkai's first book, Sátántangó is now available in an impressive new translation from New Directions Publishing.

To date, Krasznahorkai's work in translation has encompassed the serpentine, paragraph free Melancholy of Resistance (the basis for Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies); the powerful and picaresque War & War; and the beautiful novella Animalinside, a feral howl of a collaboration with the painter Max Neumann. Those readers that have already wrestled with his coiled sentences might find themselves surprised by the relatively straightforward structure of Sátántangó, but not by its content.

The narrative of the bleak and alcohol-saturated Sátántangó rears up from the mud churned up by an endless country rain and the tango (or 'csaradas') that the remaining residents of a small town stumble through at the local inn. This dance, the core of the book, serves as the focal point of Krasznahorkai's ongoing obsessions: the backbiting, gossip, crime and infidelity common to any isolated area where hope is lost, escape is impossible and distraction, despair and dance are all that the residents can hope to use to escape the pitiless force of nature.

Those encountering Krasznahorkai for the first time will be thrilled by the voice of a true master. Those that have delved into his world before will encounter a monochrome despair, brought to unexpected life through the author's unsurpassed lyricism, his firm structural vision, and his biting sense of humour.

Categories: Reviews, New Releases, Literature, Book of the Day

Book of the Day: Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif

Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 12:15pm

$22.95 Add to Cart

A few years ago a book came along called A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif and the title alone made me want to read it. I discovered a wildly entertaining novel about the mystery of the downing of an airplane which just happened to be carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq. If you haven't read that one you really should treat yourself.

Now Hanif is back with Our Lady of Alice Bhatti and it sounds like it's equally subversive and funny. The patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments need a miracle, and Alice Bhatti may be just what they're looking for. She's the new junior nurse, but that's the only thing ordinary about her. Her father is a part-time healer in the French Colony, Karachi's Christian slum--and it seems she has inherited his part-time gift. With a bit of begrudging but inspired improvisation, Alice brings succour to the patients lining the hospital's corridors. Yet, a Christian in an Islamic world, she is ensnared in the red tape of hospital bureaucracy, trapped by the caste system, and torn between her duty to her patients, her father, and her husband--an apprentice to the nefarious "Gentlemen's Squad" of the police, and about to plunge them both into a situation so dangerous that perhaps not even a miracle can save them. But, of course, Alice Bhatti is no ordinary nurse...

Pick up Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, perfect for your next trip to the lake.

Categories: New Releases, Literature, Book of the Day
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