I’ve spent a lot of time since my last post in November considering our perception of and ownership of stories, and history. These considerations of mine have stemmed, in part, from my reading habits a selection of which I list below – – and, of course, recommend not as a ‘best of’ but more of a ‘thought-ful’.
Working backwards we have the book I finished this morning: Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth. I loved how the multi-stranded stories unfolded and unfurled, the humour and the tragedy of everyday life.
Then we have the marvelous War by Janne Teller – I have passed this on to my teenager daughter to read and I’m thinking that it could – should? – be read throughout schools across Europe. It speaks of real experiences of refugees but re-imagined in a world where people of Great Britain are trying desperately to make it to the only peaceful place: the Middle East.
Accompanied by strangely intriguing and disturbing illustrations, it has really stayed in my mind. Take this short extract…
The Vegetarian by Han Kang has sat on my shelf for some time so I was glad to get some space to read it. And devour it – pardon the link with the themes of the book here! – I did. Astonishing, unsettling, and terribly moving. It touched on many of the themes that I had been reading – ownership, agency, humanity.
And before that, I had a marathon read about the Spanish Civil War, leading into World War 2 and beyond…but what The Frozen Heart really tackles is that question of how war changes people, and what people will do in order to survive. And what stories they tell; and how they tell them.
And for a change of scene, I re-read an old favourite. Jane Eyre.
And I noticed, then, that all of these authors are women. And I smiled to myself. And thought of what I might read next….Perhaps an article or a short story, from the New Yorker, or nearer to home, Idler or one of the three novels below that are on my bedside table…