A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki

How do a century-old modern-thinking Buddhist nun, a WW II kamikaze pilot, a bullied 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl on the verge of suicide, her suicidal father, a struggling memoirist on a remote island of British Columbia, Time, Being, Proust, language, philosophy, global warming, and the 2011 Japanese tsunami connect?

In this brilliantly plotted and absorbing, layered novel, one can find the theme in a quote from Proust, quoted by Ozeki:

“In reality, every reader, while he is reading, is the reader of his own self.”

January 27, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, 2013 Man Booker Shortlist, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Japan, Literary, Unique Narrative

PIG’S FOOT by Carlos Acosta

Oscar Kortico might be living in the slums of Havana now but the story he narrates is one of voluptuous plenty — populated by a vast array of colorful characters in a seemingly idyllic setting. “In the 1800s Pata de Puerco was just one small corner of a sweeping plain with a few scattered shacks between the Sierra Maestra mountains of Santiago de Cuba and the copper mines of El Cobre,” Kortico says, as he describes the Cuban village where his grandparents settled.

December 29, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Cuba, Debut Novel, Latin American/Caribbean, World Lit

QUEEN OF AMERICA by Luis Alberto Urrea

Like its predecessor, THE HUMMINGBIRD’S DAUGHTER, Urrea’s sequel, QUEEN OF AMERICA is a panoramic, picaresque, sprawling, sweeping novel that dazzles us with epic destiny, perilous twists, and high romance, set primarily in Industrial era America (and six years in the author’s undertaking). Based on Urrea’s real ancestry, this historical fiction combines family folklore with magical realism and Western adventure at the turn of the twentieth century.

November 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: California, Facing History, italy, Latin American/Caribbean, Mexico, NE & New York, New Orleans, New York City, Texas, United Kingdom, US Southwest, Washington, D.C., Wild West

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

THE UNCOUPLING by Meg Wolitzer

Once upon a time…no. On a dark and stormy night…wait–there was no storm. Long ago and far away…but, it was only a few years ago, and not far if you live in suburban New Jersey. So, one dark and December night in the safe and tidy suburb of Stellar Plains, New Jersey, an arctic chill seeped under doors, a frigid blast blew through windows, and a glacial nipping swirled between the sheets of spouses and lovers. And, just as suddenly, the woman turned from their men, and stopped having sex.

April 5, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Humorous, Reading Guide

SING THEM HOME by Stephanie Kallos

This is a saga, a sweeping family story that lodges in your marrow, the kind of story that makes you smile, laugh, weep, snort, chortle, sing, spread your arms wide and lay your heart wide open.

With flavors tender, ribald, ironical, farcical, tragic, magical, and wondrous, Sing Them Home narrates an epic story of a family emotionally disrupted by the disappearance of their mother (and wife), Hope, in a Nebraska tornado of 1978. Hope was swept up, along with her Singer sewing machine and a Steinway piano, but she never came down. Due to the absence of her remains, all that stands in the graveyard is her cenotaph.

March 27, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, Reading Guide, US Midwest