I am really enjoying vacation. I have not been to work in one week, and have six days until I have to be back, which is completely and totally lovely. I have not done as much reading as I should have, but I have done plenty of relaxing and spending time with family.
This afternoon I finished a collection of short stories by Alifa Rifaat, Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories. It’s relatively short, but took me a while to get through due to traveling, preparing for the holiday, and wrapping things up for 2016. Alifa Rifaat was an Eqyptian writer. The stories in this book focus on what everyday life looked like in Rifaat’s Egypt. Her writing focuses on familial relationships, and the routines of everyday life, including the five daily prayers. Rifaat describes a society that is male-dominated, but her writing reveals some flaws in such a culture.
My favorite story in this collection is Badriyya and Her Husband. This story is about a young woman who lives with her mother. Her mother does not approve of Badriyya’s husband, a man who has just been released from jail for stealing. He comes back, but their problems do not end just because he has come home. All of Rifaat’s stories have a punch in their final line, but the final line of this story broke my heart in addition to punching me in the gut. It’s really lovely writing/translation.
I am the only person who has ever checked this book out from the library at the university where I work! There are only 56 reviews of it on Goodreads, so I am assuming it is not a widely known book. I encourage you to pick it up!
I only read 18 books this year. Hopefully I can read one or two more before the new year, as my goal was 55 books! Oops. Did anyone else fail miserably with their reading goal this year?
If you follow me on Instagram (theworldishersforthereading) you know that there is a new addition to my family. Remi arrived a few days ago, and I am completely in love with her. She gets up way to early, but that means I can get some reading done.
This morning, I was able to finish The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. When I was working on my M.A. in Literautre I took a post modern literature course that had a focus on Indian literature, but it was all focused on the partition of India. It was nice to read something current.
The Namesake is about a young man named Gogol, the son of Indian immigrants who is named after his father’s favorite author. The novel follows Gogol’s life from the time his mother was pregnant until he is an adult. Gogol struggles with the gap between his parents’ culture and the American culture that surrounds him. He grows up hating his name, not understanding its significance until he is much older. Gogol legally changes his name before college, but cannot actually escape it, as it is part of his culture to go by a nickname. Gogol has to figure out how much of his parents culture he will adapt into his own life.
The writing in this novel is incredible. Lahiri is excellent, and I will be adding more of her books to my TBR.
Tonight I finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is the third book that I have read this year. I feel as though I should have more books read, but life is busy, and I should not be beating myself up over only reading one book per week. This book is on both my books to read in your 20s list, and I am counting it as the dystopian novel in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. (Is it cheating to count one book on two lists?)
I read this book in three sittings. The narrator, Kathy, was conversational, which really kept me engaged. She would start to bring something up, then mention how she would explain that point later. This was always done when I wanted to know what was happening, so it was a great tactic to keep the reader engaged. Kathy is a young woman who is reflecting on her time in the boarding school she attended, Hailsham, and the years after. Kathy hints that the students at her school are different, but it takes a while for you to learn what is really happening in the culture Kathy is living in, and I do not want to spoil it. Even after I learned what was happening in Kathy’s world, I did not want to believe it, and continually hoped that I was wrong. I particularly enjoyed Kathy’s reflections on her childhood, but the last 50 pages or so I could not read fast enough, nor think about putting the book down. I had to know how it was going to end, and if Kathy was going to be able to change the course that her culture had planned for her.
This book will make you think about how science impacts culture. It will also make you wonder how humans can ignore what is happening to others when they know what happening, but are not directly impacted by it.
I feel like this is such a lame post, but I do not want to spoil this book, and think that if I say much more, I will.
Tomorrow I am off to the library to get a new stack of books on the books to read in your 20s list. What are you all reading right now?