Category: Literature

Mar 31 2018

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

This powerful book about a woman discovering her own agency through the lens of the Bangladeshi immigrant experience surprised me at how timeless it felt even though it’s set at the turn of the 21st century. It’s very much in the tradition of classics by Thomas Hardy and Willa Cather, documenting with a fine eye …

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Feb 26 2018

The Naive and Sentimental Novelist by Orhan Pamuk

If I had read The Naive and Sentimental Novelist before reading Orhan Pamuk’s novels, I probably would not have bothered with them. That would have been a pity because most of them are very good, and one, Snow, is among the best I have ever read. So there’s a considerable gap between this collection of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/02/26/the-naive-and-sentimental-novelist-by-orhan-pamuk/

Feb 10 2018

Kabale und Liebe by Friedrich Schiller

From the subtitle, “A Bourgeois Tragedy” to the Romeo and Juliet references that crop up in discussions of the play, it’s clear that Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love, although I am glad to see that at least some translators go with the better order of Love and Intrigue) is not going to end well …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/02/10/kabale-und-liebe-by-friedrich-schiller/

Jan 26 2018

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

Not all terrific books about Russian topics have to be gigantic. In The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes sketches the life of Dmitri Shostakovich in fewer than 200 pages, drawing mainly on three periods in the composer’s life while using those to look back on other times. In the first, it is 1937, the height …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/01/26/the-noise-of-time-by-julian-barnes/

Dec 23 2017

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan

I really liked this book, with one huge exception, which I’ll get to in a minute. It’s a very accurate depiction of life among the jetset in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, which I grew up lifestyle-adjacent to as an upper middle-class kid in Malaysia. Much has been written about how South and Southeast Asia …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/12/23/crazy-rich-asians-crazy-rich-asians-1-by-kevin-kwan/

Dec 06 2017

Premature Evaluation: Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

I first came to Vasily Grossman via excerpts in Ivan’s War, Catherine Merridale‘s amazing book about how ordinary Soviet soldiers experienced the Second World War. That prompted me to pick up A Writer at War, dispatches and stories that he wrote while working as a journalist near the front. I thought it was one of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/12/06/premature-evaluation-life-and-fate-by-vasily-grossman/

Nov 16 2017

Wilhelm Tell by Friedrich Schiller

Wilhelm Tell, a five-act drama in verse, was Friedrich Schiller’s last major work. It tells the story of the start of the Swiss Confederation as the people of four inner cantons — Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden and Luzern — joined forces, swearing an oath to drive out a Habsburg ruler who is intent on limiting traditional …

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Oct 22 2017

Sonnets from the Crimea by Adam Mickiewicz

When Tsar the Polish poet southward sent For stirring trouble and renewed dissent He took his pen — described the lands he crossed The steppes so vast, the palaces long lost Exiles who before Adam M. had gone And Muslims who so well had served their Khan Crimean shores, the mounts above them ranged The …

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Aug 07 2017

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (translated by Jessica Cohen)

Today I learned that there’s a difference between the Man Booker and the Man Booker International Prizes, doh. As with other Man Booker winners, this was eminently readable. But as also with far too many other Man Booker winners, this wasn’t as great as I’d expected. Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent so much time …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/08/07/a-horse-walks-into-a-bar-by-david-grossman-translated-by-jessica-cohen/

May 24 2017

Traveler of Worlds by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

The important information on this book’s cover is the subtitle, Conversations with Robert Silverberg. Traveler of Worlds is entirely a set of interviews with Silverberg, who recently passed 80 years of age. He’s one of the grand old men of science fiction; he has attended every Hugo award ceremony; he was incredibly prolific back in …

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