I am a great fan of the wonderful illustrated books of Shaun Tan. His latest is called Cicada, a simple story everyone can understand. It will appeal especially to anyone feeling under-appreciated, but every reader will enjoy it!
I see some excellent reviews for the third volume of Philip Dwyer’s biography of Napoleon. It is called Napoleon: Passion, Death and Resurrection and is very readable. If you haven’t already read Anne Whitehead’s Betsy and the Emperor: The True Story of Napoleon, a Pretty Girl, a Regency Rake and a Colonial Australian Misadventure, add this to your purchase as well. A really good story about Napoleon’s time on St Helena.
V S Naipaul, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, died in August. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, as well as the 1971 Booker Prize for In a Free State, which was also nominated for the recent Golden Man Booker.
If you find some recent fiction dissatisfying, try one of his other novels such as The Enigma of Arrival or A House for Mr Biswas. For a really perceptive view of India, look in Travel Literature for the views of this special Indian born in Trinidad. Three separate visits to India - An Area of Darkness, A Wounded Civilisation and A Million Mutinies Now - are collected in one volume under the title India.
I was especially pleased to hear the interview on ABC Radio’s The Science Show with scientific journalist Mark Lynas. His new book is called Seeds of Science: Why We Got it So Wrong on GMOs. Not before time. I used to worry about Plant Patent Rights.
Have you heard about a book by Amor Towles called A Gentleman in Moscow? This is one of those very stylish books which becomes a secret bestseller. Several people recommended it to me and so it goes on.
Just after the revolution, Count Alexander Rostov is declared by the Kremlin to be an unrepentant aristocrat and is sentenced to live for life in the Hotel Metropol. Not in his usual luxurious suite, but in an attic, a very tiny attic. But the count is an educated, erudite gentleman and is determined to live a life of purpose.
You will not want to read this quickly. You should take the time to appreciate the style, to reflect upon the adventures of the characters and to remember the historical events he mentions in passing, or the many literary references. You will pause before reading the next meaningful vignette. Terrific. It is called a 'fairy tale' and I suppose it is because all turns out well, but there are some anxious moments. Enjoy.
Amor Towles’ previous novel, Rules of Civility, is another fairy tale about two wisecracking gals from the mid-west making their way in 1930s New York. It is now on its way to become another bestseller. Fun ahead. What will he write next?
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