January’s literary passions range from reimagining a Camus’ classic to stories of almost famous women, plus two thought provoking tales on the havoc politics wreaks on the lives of a Russian, and finally, that of a Parisian. I didn’t want any of these books to be over when I hit the last page. I promise you won’t be bored!
Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman, elegant stories about women, whom history often has cast aside, but remain “almost famous” because of their creative impulses, fierce independence, and often reckless decisions, Among them are Beryl Markham, Standard Oil heiress Joe Cartairs, Lord Byron’s daughter Allegra, James Joyce’s troubled daughter Lucia. These stories, and the women that inhabit them will linger long after the last page is turned.
The Tsar of Love and Techno, by Anthony Marra, writer of prizewinning A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, these interlinked stories told in poetic language, begin in the tunnels beneath Leningrad and end at the edge of the solar system. Covering several generations of a family who are tied together by one man’s defiant act to keep his brother’s image alive, it is, to quote the Washington Post “A flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles..”
Submission by Michel Houellebecq, set in Paris, 2022, its narrator a professor at the Sorbonne who finds himself disenchanted with himself and his life, and finds unexpected salvation when the Muslim brotherhood party is elected to run France, altering the world as it is then known. This novel is a quite possible brilliant conceit written by one of France’s most “celebrated controversialists” and writers. Adam Shatz of The London Review of Books calls this “a melancholy tribute to the pleasure of surrender”.
The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud – Reimagines Camus’ novel, The Stranger, from the point of view of the unheard Arab victims of Camus’ tale. Daod’s writing is spellbinding as are the experiences of his characters. I suggest if you have not read The Stranger, or cannot remember it, you read a Sparknote summary so to be familiar with the story Daoud has so finely resurrected giving this reader much to think about.
Comments or discussions about these books very welcome!