This post should really have been titled The Seven Year Glitch, for the continuous lack of anything worthwhile that this blog had to share for this reading year. But if it isn’t titled that way, it is because just as I was contemplating this year’s “Gone By” post, snowflakes were falling outside my window, and there was a book that was warming me up. Hope was springing.
But first, here is the small list of the books I read, or attempted to read this year:
The Walk by Robert Walser: Though barely 90 short pages long in a pocket sized edition I haven’t reached the halfway mark yet. The style is familiar, and though it isn’t as tepid as The Robber that I read last year, it is yet to give the same feel The Assistant with its exquisite prose.
The Dream of the Celt by Llosa, Mario Vargas. This book makes it to the maiden review at this blog in 2012 though I must add that it is because of the blogger’s devotion to Mario Vargas Llosa rather than the quality of the book.
Fima is the name of an eccentric character in Israel’s most famous writer Amos Oz’s novel by the same name Fima. The character is representative of a generation of liberal minded Israeli intellectuals who are unable to act and put their non- Zionist vision for the militarized country. The novel is not without its literary merits but is exhausting for the reader as one follows the twists and turns in Fima’s life. After a while, just the literary momentum is unable to sustain interest. I would be still looking out to read another work by the same author.
The Apple in the Dark by Clarice Lispector: Having heard so much about Brazil’s Ukranian- born woman novelist Clarice Lispector, this work was a disappointment. An existential foray, I have been stuck at page 99 forever. Some existentialist predicament, I hope, and not lethargy is preventing me from moving forward.
I hate to give a poor rating to anything by McLeod, who has made a rich and lifelong contribution to the study of Sikh religion. However, Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion by WH McLeod is disappointing. The style is archaic and overly academic to the point of being unreadable. The reason is that it is practically a rehash of the author’s PhD thesis in 1968. Much more information and analysis has been done on the subject since then, including by McLeod himself, to make this book redundant.
A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul was yet another novel that happened to be located in Africa, like The Dream of the Celt. I am still mid- way and though the book did not make me turn pages like The Dream… it sure makes one respect VS Naipaul as a great writer of fiction, whatever be his political views.
Initially put off by Herta Muller’s response to Mo Yan getting the Nobel Prize last year, but since I picked up You’ll do anything for a Laugh, Shifu, I I have been captivated by Mo Yan’s short stories in this collection titled after the first one. Each story is sharp, the words tightly woven together and the collection is sweeping in its expanse, touching on life in China since the days of the Cultural Revolution.
For this blog in its seven year glitch, with the blogger having read exactly two books cover to cover and just one reviewed here, this book came something as a relief as it goads me forward to read more of Mo Yan in this Chinese Year of the Black Snake.