Alessandro Giuliani is listening to field guns being tested in Munich in 1914, the year before Italy entered the War against Germany and Austria. Although mostly interested in the visual arts, Alessandro should know about music and beauty of all kinds; as a Professor of Aesthetics, it is his metier. But he learns about it the hard way. When the war breaks out, he is just about to take his doctorate at the University of Bologna. He volunteers for the Italian navy in the hope of avoiding conscription into the trenches, but he ends up in some of the worst fighting of the war nonetheless, facing the Austrians across the river Isonzo.

November 6, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Literary, World Lit


I don’t know why I resisted Orhan Pamuk all of these years, but one thing’s for sure – I now can’t live without him. I remember the critical acclaim that followed Pamuk in 2005 after the release of Snow, but even with a Nobel Prize under his belt, I was hardly swayed. That may have had something to do with my obsessive relationship with Philip Roth during that time – after all, I’m a loyal gal. And this Pamuk guy was not going to take me away from the legendary Zuckermans and Kepeshes of modern Jewish fiction.

This was all before a few months ago when I stumbled across a review of Pamuk’s literary masterpiece, The Museum of Innocence. The premise of the novel immediately had me fixated: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy spends the next eight years of his life…sitting in a living room with girl, her husband, and her parents, watching Turkish serials and the evening news, night after night. Now that’s what hooked me: the utter devotion and sacrifice that boy made just to see his beloved, day after day, for eight torturous years, with hardly any affirmation from his object of affection.

October 7, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Literary, Middle East, Nobel Prize for Literature, Reading Guide, Translated, Turkey, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE ROOM AND THE CHAIR by Lorraine Adams

Once a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the Washington Post, Adams, revisits familiar terrain—international terrorism—in her latest novel, THE ROOM AND THE CHAIR. Set alternately in Washington D.C., Iran and the Afghan-Pakistan border, the novel looks at the interplay between the media and the government and how they work together to determine what information the public is really fed.

February 24, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Iran, Thriller/Spy/Caper, Washington, D.C.


On his arrival in New York for a UN speech on schooling in the refugee camps, Palestinian educator Omar Yussef goes straight to Brooklyn to see his son, Ala. But the door of the Bay Ridge apartment is open and the only occupant is a headless corpse about his son’s size.

His initial horror gives way to shocked concern when Ala appears, but is promptly arrested and taken off to a Brooklyn jail. Underdressed for the New York winter, disoriented by the hard-edged city, Yussef enlists the aid of his old partisan friend Khamis Zeydan, now the chain-smoking Bethlehem police chief, also in town for the UN meeting.

February 23, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: New York City, Sleuths Series, World Lit, y Award Winning Author


“Irresponsible, spoiled and bourgeois.” One of the characters in THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE, Orhan Pamuk’s new novel, uses these labels to describe a segment of Istanbul’s young adults. These same descriptors could specifically apply to 30-year-old Kemal, the novel’s protagonist. Kemal, part of Istanbul’s upper class, spends his time managing a portion of the family business. He has the privilege of an education in America and as the novel opens, is about to be engaged to Sibel, the daughter of another wealthy family in the city. It’s slated to be a marriage between equals.

December 14, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Middle East, Nobel Prize for Literature, Translated, Turkey, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

ZEITOUN by Dave Eggers

It’s been four years since one of the country’s deadliest natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina, hit New Orleans, yet the stories of those affected have been making their way out only slowly. Dave Eggers’ ZEITOUN is one such. Here too, as in his brilliant WHAT IS THE WHAT, Eggers does an expert job narrating non-fiction and making the story come alive.

September 19, 2009 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Humorous, New Orleans, Non-fiction