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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
My Books Wish List This 2012
Wow, the last year has been simply superb. Met so many friends from all over the world who are born book lovers, met so many interesting people who have so much to share about books. Met so many wonderful authors who gave me the chance to read and review their books. And heard about many wonderful books that I hadn't heard about earlier, but was glad I cam across those titles.
For this year again, I have a list of books that I am looking forward to read. Sharing a little detail about each book here, would love it if you could let me know about any such books that you think are going to be an amazing read, maybe you have read already, would love to hear your recommendations.
Island Beneath The Sea by Isabel Allende: The story opens on the island of Saint-Domingue(now Haiti)in the late 18th century. Zarite(known as Tete) is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. As a young girl Tete is purchased by Violette, a mixed race courtesan, on behalf of Toulouse Valmorain, a Frenchman who has inherited his father's sugar plantation. Valmorain has big dreams of financial success and is somewhat ambivalent towards slavery. He views it as a means to an end, as he does most things. Upon Valmorain's marriage, Tete becomes his wife's personal slave. Valmorain's wife is fragile, beautiful, and slowly succumbs to madness. As Valmorain's wife goes mad, Valmorain forces Tete, now a teenager, into sexual servitude, which produces several illegitimate children. Spanning four decades, the narrative leaps between the social upheavals from the distant French Revolution to the Haitian slave rebellion in all its brutality and chaos, to a New Orleans fomenting with cultural change.
Some Monday For Sure by Nadine Gordimer: The story is narrated by a young man who lives with his sister and her husband. The husband's job is to sit on the end of the truck carrying dynamite to the mines, waving a flag to warn following drivers to keep their distance. The husband falls in with a plot to hijack the dynamite for the purposes of civil disobedience. Instead of talking about this heist on a country road, Gordimer turns her gaze upon the wife instead; a woman disempowered not only through being black and poor, but also by the men in her family.
Marley and Me by John Grogan: Told in first-person narrative, the book portrays Grogan and his family's life during the thirteen years that they lived with their dog Marley, and the relationships and lessons from this period. Marley, a yellow Labrador Retriever, is described as a high-strung, boisterous, and somewhat uncontrolled dog. He is strong, powerful, endlessly hungry, eager to be active, and often destructive of their property (but completely without malice). The strong contrast between the problems and tensions caused by his neuroses and behavior, and the undying devotion, love and trust shown towards the human family as they themselves have children and grow up to accept him for what he is, and their grief when he finally dies from a stomach torsion condition in old age, form the backdrop for the biographical material of the story.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey: The story, narrated by the gigantic but docile half-Native American inmate "Chief" Bromden, focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve out his prison sentence, for statutory rape, in the hospital. The head administrative nurse, Mildred Ratched, rules the ward with a mailed fist and with little medical oversight. Set in an Oregon asylum, the narrative serves as a study of the institutional process, society, and the human mind, as well as a critique of Behaviorism, society as a socializing agent, and a celebration of humanistic principles.
The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins: Set during World War II, the book makes use of the false document technique, and opens with Higgins describing his discovery of the grave of thirteen German paratroopers in an English graveyard. What follows was inspired by the real life rescue of Hitler's ally Benito Mussolini by Otto Skorzeny, a similar idea is considered by Hitler, with the strong support of Himmler. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr (German military intelligence), is ordered to make a feasibility study of the seemingly impossible task of capturing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and bringing him to the Reich.
American Jihad by Steven Emerson: Are al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden our only threats when it comes to the war on terror? Not according to author Steve Emerson. He says the United States has become home to hundreds and probably thousands of terrorists, and it has become a central node in their international network. Steven Emerson, hailed as "USA's leading expert on Islamist terrorism," has been working full-time since 1993 to track the spread of terrorist networks to US shores, even at great personal risk.
Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua: In her book, Chua describes her efforts to give her children what she describes as a traditional, strict “Chinese” upbringing. She has stated that the book was not a "how-to" manual but a self-mocking memoir. She defines “Chinese mother” loosely to include parents of other ethnicities who practice traditional, strict child-rearing, while also acknowledging that “Western parents come in all varieties,” and not all ethnically Chinese parents practice strict child-rearing.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje: The historical backdrop for this novel is the Second World War in Northern Africa and Italy. he story deals with the gradually revealed histories of a critically burned English accented Hungarian man, his Canadian nurse, a Canadian-Italian thief, and an Indian sapper in the British Army as they live out the end of World War II in an Italian villa.
The Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai: The novel follows the journey of Biju, an illegal immigrant in the US who is trying to make a new life; and Sai, an Anglicised Indian girl living with her grandfather in India. The novel shows the internal conflict in India between Muslim groups, and Buddhist groups, whilst showing a conflict between past and present. There is the rejection and yet awe of the English way of life, the opportunities for money in the US, and the squalor of living in India.
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman: The book is set against the backdrop of explosive juvenile bravado and working-class desperation. The story opens with the tenants of an apartment complex reacting to the death of one of their residents, a popular, athletic teen boy who was killed for no apparent reason. Harrison (Harri) Opoku, an 11-year-old newly arrived from Ghana, with age-appropriate brio, quickly resolves to solve the murder.At the book’s outset, Harri is still very much an innocent boy who thrills in subway rides and letting raindrops fall on his face. But during his investigation, he navigates through that slippery passage between child and adult: finding his way through cliques and peer pressure, exchanging first kisses and learning to take a stand, even if the consequences may be deadly.
Heat And Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala: The events of the story take place in India, during the periods of the British Raj in the 1920s and the present day of the novel (the 1970s). A young English woman searches for the truth about her great aunt Olivia (1920s).
The narrator discovers that Olivia was a woman smothered by the social restrictions placed upon her by British society. She fell in love with a Nawab and became pregnant with his child. Her decision to abort the baby resulted in a scandal. In discovering the truth about these events, the narrator also comes to fall in love with an Indian man, understand herself better and develops an interest in India.
The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst: In 1983 London, the privileged, gay, and apparently sexually irresistible 25 year old protagonist Will saves the life of an elderly aristocrat having a heart-attack in a public lavatory. This chance meeting sets in process a chain of events that will ultimately require the highly intelligent but essentially carefree Will to substantially re-evaluate his sense of the past and of his family's history.
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst: Set in Britain in the early to mid-1980s, the story surrounds the the young gay protagonist, Nick Guest, who has come down from Oxford with a first in English and is to begin graduate studies at the University of Central London. he book explores the tension between Nick's intimate relationship with the Feddens, in whose parties and holidays he participates, and the realities of his sexuality and gay life, which the Feddens accept only to the extent of never mentioning it. It explores themes of hypocrisy, homosexuality, madness and wealth, with the emerging AIDS crisis forming a backdrop to the book's conclusion.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett: The story is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s. It is told primarily from the first-person perspectives of three women: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen is an African-American maid who cleans houses and cares for the young children of various white families. Minny is Aibileen's confrontational friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them, resulting in having being fired from nineteen jobs. Skeeter is the daughter of a prominent white family whose cotton farm employs many African-Americans in the fields, as well as in the household.
All That I Am by Anna Funder: All That I Am is inspired by fact – drawn from interviews, memoirs and autobiographies detailing the lives of a group of (mostly) Jewish Germans who resisted Hitler in the 1930s. The group's central figures were Blatt, her cousin Dora Fabian and the playwright Ernst Toller.
The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor: The book is a satirical novel, a fictional work that takes the story of the Mahabharata, the epic of Hindu mythology, and recasts and resets it in the context of the Indian Independence Movement and the first three decades post-independence. Figures from Indian history are transformed into characters from mythology, and the mythical story of India is retold as a history of Indian independence and subsequent history, up through the 1980s. The work includes numerous puns and allusions to famous works about India, such as those by Rudyard Kipling, Paul Scott, and E. M. Forster.
Ravan And Eddie by Kiran Nagarkar: This one is touted as one of the original Mumbai books, set in a chawl and revolving around the lives of two boys - Ravan and Eddie, and their trials and tribulations through their growing up stage. The sequel to the same is just round the corner - The Extras - in which the boys are grown up.
- Debolina Raja Gupta