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

YOU DISAPPEAR by Christian Jungersen

In Christian Jungersen’s YOU DISAPPEAR, translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra, forty-two year old Mia Halling’s life will never be the same following a family vacation in Majorca. Mia notices that her husband, Frederik, who is at the wheel of their rental car, is speeding through hairpin turns like a madman. She implores him to slow down, to no avail. Although they crash, they manage to survive. What should have been a relaxing and enjoyable holiday nearly ends in tragedy.

February 4, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Denmark, Family Matters, Psychological Suspense, Translated, y Award Winning Author

THE TUNER OF SILENCES by Mia Couto

The above opening line pulled me immediately into Mia Couto’s novel, The Tuner of Silences; it raised questions for me from the beginning and these didn’t let me go until the end. Mwanito, the narrator, reflecting back on the early years of his life, recounts his experiences while living in the company of three men and his slightly older brother in a remote campside in a semi-desert. Couto, an award-winning Mozambican author, has written a novel that is part coming of age story, part family drama and part a kind of love story.

February 3, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Coming-of-Age, Family Matters, Neustadt Intl Prize, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

RENATO THE PAINTER by Eugene Mirabelli

Renato the Painter by Eugene Mirabelli is a fictional memoir about a contemporary painter living in the Boston area. The novel starts when Renato is just days old, a foundling, and continues to the present time, when he is in his 70’s. Renato is a man with a fierce pride in his art, unrepentant sexual appetites and strong personal loyalties. He is very dissatisfied with his status in the art world, feeling that the art world has left him behind. He hasn’t had a gallery show in some time and is getting depressed about his prospects. His family life is complicated.

January 19, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: End-of-Life, IPPY, Literary, Theme driven, y Award Winning Author

THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER SOUL by Bob Shacochis

This is a big book in every sense of the word: big in breadth, in ideas, in audacity. You will lose your heart to it and end up shaking your head in awe and admiration. And along the way, you will learn something about the shadowy world of politics and espionage, the hypocrisy of religion, and the lengths that the players go to keep their sense of identity – their very soul – from fragmenting.

January 3, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Facing History, Latin American/Caribbean