Archive for the ‘Commonwealth Prize’ Category

GALORE by Michael Crummey

Michael Crummey opens his new novel with Judah, sitting in a “makeshift asylum cell, shut away with the profligate stink of fish that clung to him all his days.” Only Mary Tryphena Devine comes near him these days, urging him to take a little food – or, if he doesn’t want to eat – to just die. Judah’s story is the primary, yet not the only otherworldly theme that glides through this multigenerational family saga, touching everybody in its wake. The novel is set in one of Newfoundland’s wild and rough eastern coastal regions, and, more specifically, in two remote fishing villages, Paradise Deep and The Gut.

April 8, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Canada, Commonwealth Prize, Facing History, Speculative (Beyond Reality), World Lit, y Award Winning Author

SOLO by Rana Dasgupta

How do you write about failure?

Early in this book, its protagonist, Ulrich, a young Bulgarian man studying chemistry in Berlin, is walking down a corridor after Albert Einstein, who drops a sheaf of papers. When he picks them up and runs after the great man, Einstein thanks him by saying “I would be nothing without you.” Much later in life, after his own career has been a failure by all outward measures, and life has almost been crushed out of him by Soviet austerity, Ulrich comes to learn more about Einstein and his callousness to some of those closest to him, and realizes that genius feeds off the failure of others.

March 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Balkans, Commonwealth Prize, Literary, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE MEMORY OF LOVE by Aminatta Forna

Incalculable grief cleaves to profound love in this elaborate, helical tapestry of a besieged people in postwar Freetown, Sierra Leone. Interlacing two primary periods of violent upheaval, author Aminatta Forna renders a scarred nation of people with astonishing grace and poise–an unforgettable portrait of open wounds and closed mouths, of broken hearts and fractured spirits, woven into a stunning evocation of recurrence and redemption, loss and tender reconciliation. Forna mines a filament of hope from resigned fatalism, from the devastation of a civil war that claimed 50,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million people. Those that survived felt hollowed out, living with an uneasy peace.

February 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Africa, Commonwealth Prize, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

ROOM by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue is not afraid of making bold choices. Her first is the narrative voice she adapts in ROOM: that of five-year-old Jack, a young boy who was born and has lived his entire life in an 11-foot by 11-foot room. One might think the voice would eventually become cloying or overly precious or manipulative or downright tiring. But it never does.

September 18, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Commonwealth Prize, Contemporary, Unique Narrative, y Award Winning Author

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET by David Mitchell

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET is quite simply the best historical novel I have read in years, Tolstoyan in its scope and moral perception, yet finely focused on a very particular place and time. The place: Dejima, a Dutch trading post on a man-made island in Nagasaki harbor that was for two centuries Japan’s only window on the outside world. The time: a single year, 1799-1800, although here Mitchell takes the liberties of a novelist, compressing the events of a decade, including the decline of the Dutch East India Company and Napoleon’s annexation of Holland, into a mere twelve months. He plays smaller tricks with time throughout the novel, actually, alternating between the Japanese calendar and the Gregorian one, then jumping forwards and backwards between chapters. The effect is to heighten the picture of two hermetic worlds removed from the normal course of history.

August 28, 2010 · Judi Clark · 4 Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Commonwealth Prize, Facing History, Japan, Literary, y Award Winning Author

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET by David Mitchell

This is a modern, woolly mastodon of a book, a book with tusks and chewing teeth, a throwback to the most towering storytelling in literary history. But it is also a Seraph, a three-paired-winged novel that is full of zeal and respect, humility and ethereal beauty, an airborne creature that gave me five days in heaven. And, it is a sea serpent, because it lifted itself up like a column and it grabbed and swallowed me. Whole.

June 30, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Commonwealth Prize, Facing History, Japan, Literary, y Award Winning Author