Archive for the ‘World Lit’ Category

ALL OUR NAMES by Dinaw Mengestu

Mengestu’s third novel—another about the immigrant experience—is his most accomplished and soulful, in my opinion. He returns again to the pain of exile and the quest for identity, as well as the need for a foreigner from a poor and developing country to reinvent himself. In addition, he alternates the landscape of post-colonial Uganda with the racially tense Midwest of the 1970s, and demonstrates that the feeling of exile can also exist in an American living in her own hometown. The cultural contrast of both countries, with a narrative that alternates back and forth, intensifies the sense of tenuous hope mixed with shattered illusions.

March 13, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Reading Guide, US Mid-Atlantic, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE UNAMERICANS by Molly Antopol

A title such as THE UNAMERICANS begs this question: what is an American? Or more specifically, what is an American in Molly Antopol’s world? A traditional answer might be to have a personal sense of identity and to be unencumbered to pursue one’s most shining hopes and dreams in a land where anything is possible.

Molly Antopol’s characters are mostly Jewish and they are mostly alienated – from spouse or kids, from past ideology and beliefs, and often, from their most authentic selves. Each story is a little gem onto itself.

February 26, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 5 under 35, Short Stories, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

EUROPE IN SEPIA by Dubravka Ugresic

Dubravka Ugresic’s new collection of cultural essays deal, primarily, with “Nostalgia,” the title of her first piece.

Ms. Ugresice is a Croatian, formally a Yugoslavian, who now lives in Amsterdam.

Her essays delve into politics, history, popular US, Yugoslavian and European culture from the 1950′s to the 21st century, as well as her own thoughts and flights of fancy. She is branded a “Yugonostalgnic,” by many of her fellow countrymen and women. This is a derogatory term, a synonym for those who long for the days of the Yugoslavia of yore under the reign of Tito; dinosaurs who look back fondly to the slogan “brotherhood and unity.”

February 21, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Croatia, Europe, Non-fiction, Translated, World Lit, Yugoslavia

FOREIGN GODS, INC. by Okey Ndibe

FOREIGN GODS, INC. is one of those rare books that has you laughing and crying at different intervals. It is well-written, excellently characterized and the story line is near perfect. I enjoyed this reading experience immensely.

February 19, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Debut Novel, Humorous, New York City, World Lit

A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED by Dara Horn

The idea for writing a modern version of the biblical story of Joseph came apparently from the author’s husband. It is a brilliant one, even more brilliantly executed. First, because she uses it for resonance rather than prediction; you recognize the biblical parallels after they have occurred, but you never know when she is going to depart from the Genesis version, so her novel remains surprising to the end. Second, because the Egyptian setting grounds the book in aspects of Jewish history that are perhaps less well-known, but obviously relevant to the eternal geopolitical situation in the Middle East. And third, because the Torah reference provides the perfect opening to explore many issues in Jewish teaching and philosophy, most notably those concerning divine providence, accident, and free will. The title of her novel, actually, is borrowed from a treatise on these very questions written in Cairo by the twelfth century doctor and philosopher Maimonides. The result, in Horn’s hands, is a richly layered novel that is humane, exciting, informative, and thought-provoking, all at the same time.

February 18, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Family Matters, Literary, Middle East, Speculative (Beyond Reality), Theme driven, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

RADIANCE OF TOMORROW by Ishmael Beah

Mama Kadie cautiously enters the central path of her village, not sure what to expect, pondering on what has remained and who is still there or has come back like she does now. After the traumas, losses and devastation of the war she experiences profound emotions as she walks barefoot on the local soil, smells the scents of the land and watches and listens for every sound in the bushes. What will life have in store for her? The opening pages of Ishmael Beah’s debut novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, are achingly beautiful; his voice gentle and affecting, his deep emotional connection palpable with what he describes so colourfully. Having experienced international acclaim with his memoir, A Long Way Gone, which recounts the story of a child soldier in Sierra Leone, with his new book he returns to his homeland, sharing with his readers the demanding and difficult path that the local people have to follow in their recovery from the brutal war and its many losses in life and livelihood.

February 12, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Reading Guide, World Lit