Book Buying 2014 #2

Luckily I didn’t sign up for any challenge to not buy books this year. Because I just went crazy in my favorite Danish bookstore and well, I bought about a billion books. The thing I did right – or wrong, depending on your point of view – was to make a list of books I wanted. This was in part compiled of the list I made of the books I missed in 2013. And well, armed with a list and then exposed to all the other amazing books in the store, I just went nuts and assembled to huge piles – which my boyfriend didn’t even want to help me carry, because he thought he thought I had to experience the consequences of buying giant piles of books. He caved later – I’m sure I won’t.
So here are all the amazingness I bought. Who said you couldn’t buy happiness?

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Joyce Carol Oates: Carthage. So Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorite authors and I sometimes forget why exactly but when I then pick up one of her books, I’m just blown away by her writing skills. She is just an amazing writer and this book about a girl who goes missing, possibly because of a disabled Iraqi veteran, sounds amazing.
Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair, The Well of Lost Plots and Lost in a Good Books: I’ve read the first book in the Thursday Next series, The Eyre Affair, and I loved it and have been wanting to read the rest ever since. So when I saw the entire series at the store, I almost bought them all but well, I sort of tried to be just a bit responsible and only bought the first three…
Carol Rifka Brunt: Tell the Wolves I’m Home. This book just sounds amazing. It takes place in the 80s and deals with AIDS and homosexuality in a time, when these things weren’t well-known parts of everyday life. June looses her uncle to this illness, she knows nothing about and doesn’t quite understand and then suddenly she notices a strange man attending her uncle’s funeral and a bit later he tries to get in touch with her. I’ve only heard good things about this and I want to read this one soon.

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Brandon Sanderson: The Final Empire (Mistborn Book One). I first heard of Brandon Sanderson when he was chosen to finish the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan died. He seems to be a really great fantasy writer and the Mistborn series is seemingly universally loved so I can’t wait to read it. Still, I only bought the first volume because I wanted to check it out for myself before committing to the whole thing.
Hannah Kent: Burial Rites. This one has been making it’s way all over the blogging world. Everyone has read it, it seems. And no wonder, it sounds amazing. Hannah Kent went to Iceland as a teenager and heard the story of the last woman executed in Iceland and that inspired her to write this book. It reminds me of Alias Grace and everybody seem to love it so I am really looking forward to it.
Leigh Bardugo: Siege and Storm (The Grisha book 2). I loved the first book in this series. It was a great thrilling ride and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Alina and Mal when the Darkling catches up with them – as I’m sure he will.This is pure fantasy brain candy and I’m looking forward to diving into this second book.
Chang-Rae Lee: On Such a Full Sea. I heard an interview with Chang-Rae Lee where he said he wanted to write a book about Chinese factory workers and did all the research and somehow ended up writing a dystopian fantasy novel instead. I have read several books about China and taking place in China and I so want to read this book.
Helene Wecker: The Golem and the Djinni. I first heard about this on the New York Times Books podcast and it sounds like a wonderful combination of fantastic elements, mythology, love and great storytelling. I’ve been fascinating by Golems ever since we were in Prague and heard about them so this one is another book I’m looking forward to.

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Margaret Atwood: Oryx & Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam. So I’ve read Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood but nothing else and really want to read more because she write great and very interesting books so I’ve been wanting to read this series ever since it started coming out but kept myself waiting until the entire trilogy was out. And I’m really looking forward to find out who Snowman, Oryx and Crake are.
Connie Willis: Blackout and All Clear. Historical fiction, time traveling – it seems to be rather popular to combine these two. Just think of the Outlander series and Kindred by Octavia Butler. It’s about a time travel lab in 2060 who goes bad to WWII and it sounds amazing and so many people have recommended it to me so another one I’m really looking forward to.


Salman Rushdie: Haroun and Luka. I really like Salman Rushdie and I loved reading his autobiography of the years of the Fatwa, Joseph Anton. And what he wrote about especially Haroun and the Sea of Stories made me really want to read it. Especially since he wrote the book to his son. So it’s supposedly an easier book than most of Rushdie’s books and it sounds imaginative and wonderful. And as a bonus, when you turn the book over, you get Luka and the Fire of Life so two books in one.

So yeah, these were the only books I bought. Yeah. I’m not sure I’m exactly proud of myself but I’m very much excited about all of these. Such good books. And I’m actually already almost done with the first of these – Joyce Carol Oates’ Carthage. Loving it. Hopefully all the rest of these are as good – and I’m pretty sure that at least a bunch of them are. So happy reading to me!

Related post:

Book Buying 2013 – part 1

One might think that I haven’t bought any books this year since I haven’t posted about it. One might think so, yes – but one would be very wrong. I just haven’t gotten my blogging act enough together so far this year to get such a post done. So here it is – the 8 books I’ve bought so far this year …!

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  1. SJ Watson: Before I Go to Sleep
  2. J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy
  3. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
  4. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas
  5. Toni Morrison: Beloved
  6. Salman Rushdie: Joseph Anton. A Memoir
  7. Erlend Loe: Doppler
  8. Félix J. Palma: The Map of Time

5 of these have been bought from Strand Bookstore in New York (online). The SJ Watson one I bought at a local bookstore after hearing about it on the Guardian Books podcast. Dopper and The Map of Time was bought at my favorite bookstore in Odense – I had never heard of Doppler before but got it highly recommended by young girl working as a trainee in the store – she spoke so positively about it and it’s about an elk so how could I possibly not buy it?

As you can see, I’ve already read the Salman Rushdie one – and really enjoyed it – and I’m currently reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved and really liking it. Enjoying is the wrong word to use for how I feel about that book but it’s an important book and I do get a lot from reading it even though I sometimes have to read the same paragraph over and over to really get what is happening. But that’s okay. I don’t mind that as long as the book has so much to offer as this one truly has.

Anyway, most of these books – or at least about half of them – are well-known and I’m really looking forward to reading all of them. I think they all sounds very interesting and fascinating – duh, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them – and I hope to get to them all soon (-ish).

So as you can see, no book buying ban here… I just keep on buying even though the shelves (and the boyfriend) are groaning …!

Salman Rushdie: Joseph Anton – a memoir (review)

13532186As you are fighting a battle that may cost you your life, is the thing for which you are fighting worth loosing your life for? p. 285

So why is it that I feel I have to defend liking this book? Almost all reviews I’ve read – from New York Times to Goodreads – have been rather negative, attacking and blaming Rushdie. So I will just come right out and say that I really liked this book. Yes, he namedrops on every page. Yes, he of course paints a (mostly) positive picture of himself (but who wouldn’t?). Yes he knows his own worth and uses this opportunity to settle a few scores. But still, I enjoyed every page of this and read and read and read.

This of course is the story of the famous fatwa. On February 14th, 1989, Rushdie receives a phone call, informing him that Ayatollah Khomeini has sentenced him to death because of his novel, The Satanic Verses. This book details then his life for the next 12 years, trying to live as normal as possible while being under constant police protection, moving from house to house, relying on the kindness of his friends, driving bulletproof cars and trying to survive, both mentally and physically.

He writes about his private life, his childhood, his years in school, his marriages, his children, his attempt to be a father in these most extraordinary circumstances. He constantly struggles against people – both official people and the public – believing he doesn’t deserve to be protected because he has brought this on himself. He doesn’t agree with this – and neither do I. A leader of a state does not have to right to condemn the citizen of another state to death. So Rushdie struggles with Government officials, ministers and the leaders of his protection service to get them to continue to protect him and to allow him to live as free a life as possible so he can be a father, be a man and a writer, and do the publicity necessary to promote his books.

A strange thing with this book is that even though it is a memoir, it is written in the third person. Rushdie never writes I but writes he, even when writing about his own thoughts. I actually really liked this because for me, it felt like Rushdie was standing outside his life, looking in, trying to make sense of what happened to him. For me, it worked! He is also juggling with various identities through this – there’s Salman, the private man his friends knows; there’s Rushdie, the hated man, the demonstrators are renouncing on the streets; and there’s Joseph Anton, his alias, created out of the names of his two favorite writers, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. So in some ways, it must be hard to see these years living like this, split into three, as his life instead of someone else’s life, a fictional life.

The book really shows what kind of man he is. Intelligent, well-read, knowledgeable about both the classics and modern (pop) culture (JK Rowling, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Super Mario, various sci-fi etc). He writes about his process when writing books, about getting ideas and using things from his real life experience in his books. And he writes about all his books in a way which makes me want to read them. And I love that while he shares all the famous writers, actors, politicians etc he meets, he also writes about how proud he is to complete his Super Mario game and how he thinks Birkenstocks is the uncoolest footwear, except for Crocs (p. 342). I really enjoyed how he shows his humor throughout the book even though he battles depression throughout these years, living with a constant death sentence over his head.

‘Who shall have control over the story? Who has, who should have, the power not only to tell the stories within which, we all lived, but also to say in what manner those stories may be told? For everyone lived by and inside stories, the so-called grand narratives. The nation was a story, and the family was another, and religion was a third. As a creative artist he knew that the only answer to the question was: Everyone and anyone has, or should have that power.’ (p. 360)

Of particular interest to me, was of course the times he mentioned Denmark and the Danish reaction to the fatwa. Overall, it seems his Danish publisher wasn’t afraid and not only published the paperback – which was a big deal – but also compared the risk of publishing it to crossing the street. It is sobering to read about how hard it was for him to get the paperback published in UK and US because if that paperback hadn’t come out, his attackers would have won.

When I began reading this novel, I had to come to terms with something. I was 12 years old when the fatwa was issued and I don’t remember anything about it from back then. But I’ve always believed that he was in the right to publish that book and that no one had the right to attack him for that. But at the same time, I was against the so called ‘Danish Cartoons’, the caricatures of Muhammad posted by Jyllands-Posten back in 2005. Of course I didn’t want anyone attacking Kurt Westergaard, one of the drawers, but I didn’t like the idea of these drawings. Now, how could I reconcile supporting Rushdie and believing him to be in the right while not supporting these drawings? I thought about that for a while and for me, the answer is, that Jyllands-Posten did it intentionally to cause a disturbance while Rushdie didn’t set out to do anything but write a novel. Whether you agree or disagree with someone, they should always be allowed to talk, to say their mind. You have to use words to defeat words, not guns or bombs or knives.

In Denmark, we have just had another case of a journalist known for criticizing Islam being attacked and attempted assassinated. Now I disagree with this man but you can’t go around shooting at people you disagree with. But what this shows is that Rushdie’s case is still current. We still have to fight for freedom of speech. Rushdie survived the fatwa and lived to see it being put to rest. He views his case as a prologue to all that happened after 9-11 and even though we all should have become wiser, we haven’t really. Unfortunately.

The value of art lies in the love it engenders, not the hatred. It is love that makes books last. (p. 316)

  • Title: Joseph Anton – a memoir
  • Author: Salman Rushdie
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Year: 2012
  • Pages: 636 pages
  • Source: Own Collection
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

I think this week’s Top Ten topic is the easiest one ever! At least it is to me since I have put a lot of books on my Christmas wish list. The only difficult thing this week is to limit myself to only 10 books. But I will try my best! As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and here is my list for this week.

  1. Ken Follett: World Without End. I read and loved The Pillars of the Earth earlier this year so of course I’m hoping to get this book so I can see what happens next.
  2. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas. Some years ago, I stood in a bookstore and debated whether to buy Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or Ghostwritten. I ended up getting Ghostwritten and I’ve kind of regretted it ever since since Cloud Atlas seems to be the big thing. However, I chose Ghostwritten because I thought it sounded better so I definitely want to read that too. But after watching the trailer for Cloud Atlas, I’m just sold. I so badly want to read that book.
  3. Diana Gabaldon: Voyager (Outlander #3), Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4). I’ve read the first two of the series but with some years in between and I tend to forget how much I like these books. So after reading Dragonfly in Amber, I decided I wanted to read more books in the series – and soon. So I’m wishing for the next two.
  4. Alexander Dumas: The Count of Monte Christo. I loved The Three Musketeers as a child. Loved, loved, loved. I really want to reread that book at some point – as well as the other books in the series. But even more, I want to read The Count of Monte Christo. I keep hearing so much good about it so that’s my Classic wish for this Christmas.
  5. Joyce Carol Oates: Zombie. I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers. And this is written by one of my favorite authors. I really, really want this one!
  6. Toni Morrison: Beloved. I’ve never read Toni Morrison. It’s about time, right? I got intrigued by reading a review talking about how a woman in the book kills her baby girl because some fates are worse than slavery.
  7. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury recently died and that sparked a lot of people talking about him and his books. And I’ve never read anything by him. This one is about book burning and it sounds like something I will just love. Crossing my fingers I get this one!
  8. J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy. It’s J.K. Rowling’s new book. Of course I want it!
  9. Salman Rushdie: Joseph Anton. I could write almost the same thing as just above but it’s not entirely true. I have not read a lot by Rushdie but I’m loving his Twitter personality, I really want to read more by him because he’s a very impressive author – and I find it very interesting to learn how he coped with the fatwa.
  10. Olivia Butler: Kindred. This sounds a bit similar to the Outlander series in plot. It’s about time travelling too but in this book, a woman travels back to the time of slavery in the US. I’ve heard so much good about it so on the list, it went.
  11. Andrea J. Buchanan (ed.): It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters. I have two girls, two daughters. I like getting inspiration on raising them, learning more about how to make sure we all survive when they become teenagers and just how I can be the best mom I can be. This book sounds very interesting.
  12. Peggy Orenstein: Cinderella ate my daughter. My oldest daughter is 4, she loves princesses, she talks like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty – and I am not sure that’s necessarily a good thing. So I want to read this book to maybe get a bit of perspective on this whole princess thing and to see if it will become a problem when she grows older.
  13. Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. This sounds like an intriguing book. A man writes a letter to a woman dying of cancer –  but instead of mailing it, he decided to walk across England to deliver it himself. It was longlisted for the Man Booker and yeah, I want it.
  14. George R.R. Martin: A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire #1). I want to know what all the fuss is about. And I want to read about the dragons. And the big wall. And what happens when winter comes.
  15. Freda Warrington: Midsummer Night (Aetherial Tales #2). I read the first one, Elfland, and liked it. I’ve been meaning to get this one for a while but just haven’t seen it anywhere.

Yeah, I know. I lied. I didn’t try my best. I realized I had 14 books on my wish list so I just went with it… These are the 15 books I would love to find beautifully wrapped underneath my Christmas tree on December 24.

Related posts:

Top Ten Books Which Need to be Read More Than Once

This week, the Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie. We each get to decide which theme we want to write about. I’ve decided to make a Top Ten list of books that I want to reread – mostly books that are so complex that they need to be read more than once to get the most out of them. As usual, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and here are my list for this week.

  1. Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace. Come on – does anyone really expect that you can grasp everything that is War and Peace by reading it just once? Not going to happen! I loved it when I read it – and I know I want to research a bit more about Napoleon’s France and his wars before reading it again. But it is an amazing book – which has the huge amount of sidestories in common with the next book on my list.
  2. Victor Hugo: Les Misérables. I’m reading Les Misérables right now and even though I still have about 400 pages to go, I can say with complete conviction that this book deserves – and needs – to be read more than once. The main story of Jean Valjean and Colette is easy enough to follow and really draws you in and keeps your attention, but the book is so much more and this more is what demands more readings because you sometimes have a tendency to read rather quickly to get back to Colette and Jean Valjean and find out what happens with them.
  3. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses. I so didn’t get this book the first time I read it. I read it through, I googled stuff and understood more – but I didn’t get this book. I think it was a combination of not having read a lot of magical realism, not having read anything else by Rushdie and not knowing enough about Islam. I have read more magical realism now, I have read Rushdie and plan on reading more and I do know more about Islam now and will probably brush up on my knowledge before attempting to read this book again. It’s a book I really want to understand and like because of the consequences it had.
  4. Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov. Another Russian novel. I think I just need to come to terms with the fact that these classic Russian novels need to be read more than once. This is also a really great novel – and I thoroughly enjoyed it while reading it – and I need to read it again…!
  5. Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights. The reason for adding this to my list is mainly that I was underwhelmed by it. Before reading it I had heard so much good about it – and maybe that’s what somewhat ruined my experience of it. However, after reading it, I’ve again heard and read so much about it that I’m pretty sure that I will like it better if I give it another chance. So that’s what I’m going to do.
  6. Harry Mulisch: The Discovery of Heaven. This is another of those books that just has much in it on top of a brilliant story so you just have to read it again. It’s by a Dutch author and it talks about friendship, religion, art, philosophy, WWII and so much more – and it’s amazing! Definitely worth a reread!
  7. George Elliot: Middlemarch. Big and wonderful, I really loved this novel when I read it. But I can’t quite articulate why I loved it so
  8. Georges Perec: Life – a User’s Manual. I recommend this book every chance I get – even though I strongly believe it’s not for everyone. Perec was a very experimenting author and this novel is no exception. Set in a block in Paris, we follow the lives and deaths of the people living here – there’s no real forward moving story, except maybe for this one guy who paints pictures, get them made into puzzles, put them together and then has them destroyed… It sounds weird, but it’s fascinating and wonderful.
  9. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. A huge and impressive first novel filled with lots and lots of footnotes – and fairies! So another book about Napoleon warfare among other things. From the British point of view, though. I think it would be hugely beneficial to sit down and study up on Napoleon and his France and then read War and PeaceLes Misérables and this book – even though this as a alternate history/fantasy novel is hugely different from the other two. I love how the English use magicians to help them fight their wars and how you can see the same historical fact from very different ways, depending on whether you are Victor Hugo or Susanna Clarke!
  10. John Irving: The World According to Garp. Yes, I know. This falls somewhat outside the scope of my list but it’s my favorite novel and I’ve read it over and over and I still love it and enjoy each reread. So just go read it 🙂

Related posts:

June 2012 – Monthly Wrap Up post

So with June gone, we’re halfway through the year and it’s time to do not only a monthly wrap-up post but take a look at the first 6 months and see how far I’ve come in my goals for the year. In total, I’ve read 26 books which is one every week and exactly half of my goal of 52 books – so right on target with that one. Of the 25 books I’ve decided to read this list, I’ve read 12 which is pretty much on target too. So I just need to basically repeat this in the second half of the year.

I also want to talk about Armchair BEA, an online book blogger award that took place early June. For four days, bloggers socialized, talked about books and visited each others blog and discussed the many facets of book blogging. I met some fascinating new people, found great new blogs and had a great time. Although I haven’t changed anything on the blog after BEA, I certainly got a lot to think about as well as some new inspiration – and got more certain about some of the things I do. Maybe I will add some new features or change things up a bit at a later point, for now I’m pretty much satisfied with things as they are. I highly recommend anyone to join Armchair BEA if it is held again next year.

I’ve read 1794 pages this month which is a bit of an improvement on the last couple of months but still not quite where I want it to be. I made it through 4 books which is okay but again, I really would like to read 2000+ pages and at least 5 books.

  1. Haruki Murakami: Underground. Murakami’s take on the 1995 terror attack in the Tokyo subway. Interviews with victims and with members of the cult who did it. All together, they give an interesting view into terrorist attacks in general and the Japanese psyche in specific. 4 stars.
  2. Mark Helprin: Winter’s Tale. The fourth book added to my favorites shelf this year! (The other three were We Need to Talk about Kevin, Drood and The Woman in White.) Such an amazing book – Peter Lake, Beverly Penn, Athansor and all the other fantastic characters that you can’t help fall in love with. Bigger than life characters, beautiful language, great story – all set in a mythical New York. It’s a great, great book. 5 stars.
  3. Daniel Defoe: Moll Flanders. I’m sorry to admit that these novels about ‘fallen women’ from the 18th century isn’t really working for me. Still, it’s an interesting read this story of Moll Flander’s life, several marriages and children, criminal career and prison time. 3 stars.
  4. Salman Rushdie: Shalimar the Clown. Amazing story about Shalimar, his wife Boonyi, Max Ophuls the American ambassador to India, and Max and Boonyi’s daughter India … It’s also about Kashmir, the relationship between muslims and hindus – and it’s such a great read! 4 stars.
Even though I feel like I worked hard with Clarissa this month, I haven’t finished the June letters yet. I have read more than half of them though, and at the moment, I’m enjoying them very much. Expect my Clarissa read-along post in a few days.

I finished the Haruki Murakami challenge – since I had only signed up to read one book by Murakami this year, this challenge was finished the moment I closed Underground. I do hope that I will have time to read more Murakami this year, time to read some of his fiction. All in all, I’m feeling on target with all my challenges.

So in July, I’m going to spend time watching Tour de France and reading about it, as I’ve already mentioned. I think I can read through the three books rather quickly and after that, I’m not quite sure what I want to continue with but I probably need to focus a bit on books for my challenge, maybe the two last volumes in the Earth Children’s series by Jean M. Auel, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley or The Message to the Planet by Iris Murdoch. I hope to get a lot of reading done in June to stay on track!

Related posts:

Salman Rushdie: Shalimar the Clown (review)

Several years ago, I read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie and felt very overwhelmed and outsmarted. I did enjoy the beautiful language but I think that I had problems with understanding the book because I didn’t know enough about Islam and maybe also, because I didn’t have a lot of experience with reading magical realism. Glimpses of that book has stayed with me, yet it still intimidated me enough to stay away from Rushdie’s novels ever since. So just like when I read Don DeLillo’s Falling Man, this was a test to see if Rushdie’s works are for me.

And it turns out, they are. I really enjoyed reading Shalimar the Clown. First of, it’s beautifully written – Rushdie has a magnificent grasp of the language and really uses it to make his points. There are sections where he breaks it up and changes it completely to underline what’s happening in the story. It’s so skillfully done. He’s truly a master of his arts.

Secondly, it’s a both fascinating and interesting story. On a background of the conflict in Kashmihr between hindus and muslims, between India and Palestine, the lives of Boonyi, Shalimar and Max unfold. But this is not where we start. It begins in Los Angeles where India Ophuls’ father Max, is killed on her door step by his chauffeur, Shalimar the Clown. Rushdie then takes us back in time to explain why Shalimar killed Max. Shalimar was once a young happy muslim boy, completely in love with Boonyi, a young hindu girl. They loved each other very much and was therefore allowed to marry, but for Boonyi, life in the tiny village in Kashmir is not enough so when she gets a chance to get out, she takes it. Even when it means that she becomes the American ambassador’s mistress. She leaves Shalimar and deeply crushed, he vows to kill her and any child she might get and he joins various terrorist groups in order to learn how to kill – and to wait for the right time to kill Boonyi. When Boonyi gets pregnant, a huge scandal erupts, and ultimately, Max’s wife leaves him – and leaves India with his and Boonyi’s child, a girl she names India.

The way Rushdie manages to tell the story of these people, is superb. He makes them all believable, they change and grow and you believe that they could – and would – evolve in the ways, they do. There are quite a few supporting characters, all with their own identity and voice. Even though the book has a political message about the destruction of Kashmir and about how little it takes to destroy relations between various groups, when tragedy and disaster strikes, Rushdie still manages to keep the story well-paced and the sections discussion more political issues, feel integrated in the novel. There are some elements of magical realism in the story and they work to emphasize the rest of the story, as well as how the people of Kashmir think and see the world.

In some ways, this can be seen as a retelling of the story of Paradise. Kashmir as the Garden of Eden, Shalimar and Boonyi as Adam and Eva, and Max, the first TV in the valley and other things as the snake who tricks Boonyi away from Eden and into a modern world filled with possibilities for temptation and sin. Due to a huge sacrifice, she’s allowed to return – but Paradise has changed too, just like she has.

It’s also a book investigating terrorism and how peaceful tolerant countries can suddenly be caught up in violence and conflict, it’s an attempt to understand what makes people become terrorists and how sometimes, it only takes a small incitement or a personal crisis to turn people. It investigates how people react when they are suddenly told how to dress and act and the length people are willing to go to to make other people act as they see fit. Rushdie also looks at how the decisions on nation level influence the ordinary people and the role of the military.

When reading this, I kept feeling it was a 4 stars book. Even though I really loved it, it still felt like 4 stars. And I think the main reason for that is, that I’m sure Salman Rushdie has written better books, even better books. Books, I want to rate 5 stars. I’m really looking forward to reading another Rushdie novel – and he has made it to the list of my potential favorite authors. I just need to read a few more books by him to see if he can make it onto the list of favorites.

When reading Shalimar the Clown in bed late at night, you’re not able to just put the characters away as you do the book when you’re done reading. Instead they stay with you and you think about their life and fates as you drift closer and closer to sleep. And as you slowly starts sleeping, not quite though, and as you loose your hold on reality and starts to enter the realms of dreams, you get closer to Boonyi in her small hut with her goats, struggling with addiction, trying to live while being dead, fighting to grasp reality again. Luckily, she has her dead mother to help her. And luckily, I have Rushdie’s beautiful words to let me know the story of these amazing characters.

  • Title: Shalimar the Clown
  • Author: Salman Rushdie
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape
  • Year: 2005
  • Pages: 398 pages
  • Source: Own Collection
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

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Book recommendations from Salman Rushdie

I want to start by saying that I love twitter!

Salman Rushdie posted a couple of tweets about how he has presented Anita Desai with the India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award and that she is a great writer. He even called her The Indian Austen. Naturally, this kindled my interest so I asked him which books he would recommend. He recommended two: Clear Light of Day and In Custody.

Now I’ve just finished reading Rushdie’s novel Shalimar the Clown. How amazing is it then to be able to reach out to this great author and get some recommendations to another writer? How amazing is it that he actually answered?!

I’ve done a tiny bit of research afterwards to learn more about Anita Desai and the books recommended by Rushdie.

Born in 1937, Desai is an Indian novelist who has been shortlisted for the Booker three times. Apparently, she published her first story at the tender age of nine! She is the mother to the Booker winning novelist Kiran Desai (who won the Booker award 2006 for The Inheritance of Loss – she is apparently in a relationship with Orhan Pamuk, the famous Turkish novelist).

Desai writes both novels, children’s literature and short stories. Writing in English, Desai writes about Indian life, gender roles, the importance of families, how women in India rebel against the traditional patriarchal society and it’s norms and values, and the complexities of modern Indian life and culture.

Since Anita Desai published her first book in 1963, Cry, the Peacock, she has written at least 16 books, the last being The Artist of Disappearance (2011).

Clear Light of Day (1980)

Set in India’s Old Delhi, CLEAR LIGHT OF DAY is Anita Desai’s tender, warm, and compassionate novel about family scars, the ability to forgive and forget, and the trials and tribulations of familial love. At the novel’s heart are the moving relationships between the members of the Das family, who have grown apart from each other. Bimla is a dissatisfied but ambitious teacher at a women’s college who lives in her childhood home, where she cares for her mentally challenged brother, Baba. Tara is her younger, unambitious, estranged sister, married and with children of her own. Raja is their popular, brilliant, and successful brother. When Tara returns for a visit with Bimla and Baba, old memories and tensions resurface and blend into a domestic drama that is intensely beautiful and leads to profound self-understanding.

In Custody (1984)

Touching and wonderfully funny, In Custody is woven around the yearnings and calamities of a small town scholar in the north of India. An impoverished college lecturer, Deven, sees a way to escape from the meanness of his daily life when he is asked to interview India’s greatest Urdu poet, Nur – a project that can only end in disaster.

I also got an answer from Susan Hill (I am the King of the Castle and more) who also thinks Anita Desai is a wonderful writer.

So what this means is that I’ve discovered a new author to add to my wish list, an author I hope to get around to reading soon since her books sound very interesting!

Read more:

In conversation: Kiran Desai meets Anita Desai – The Guardian

News from four big authors

So four of the big authors have some interesting news in the media at the moment.

Salman Rushdie

Rushdie is coming out with his memoirs later this year. We all know about Salman Rushdie because of the fatwa put on him back in 1989. This is his story. This is his version of living with a death sentence over his head for nine years. Even though Rushdie really intimidates me, this is a book I’m really looking forward to.

The book is called Joseph Anton – a memoir and is published on September 18, 2012.

Read more here.

J.K. Rowling

So a while ago J.K. Rowling announced that she was writing a new book. Nothing more was revealed at that point but now, a little more information has come out. This is a novel about the death of a man and how that affects the small town he was living in. It sounds very different from Harry Potter and I’m still very excited to see what else Rowling can do.

The novel is called The Casual Vacancy and is published on September 27, 2012.

Read more here.

And here’s a link to Rowling’s new website which also has a lot of information about the new book.

Stephen King. (and Neil Gaiman).

Neil Gaiman recently talked to Stephen King and out of that came a very interesting interview. Two great authors hanging out together, talking about the trade and about King’s works. There were several interesting points in the interview. First of, King is currently writing a new novel about a serial killer in an amusement park – the novel is called Joyland. Now, he scared me of clowns with It. Now he’s going to take amusement parks from me? I can’t wait!

Also, Dr. Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, is done and just waiting to be published. He also says that his son, Joe Hill, writes almost indistinguishable from King himself – but has better ideas. I think I need to check out a book by Joe Hill!

You can read the entire interview here.

EDIT: Neil Gaiman put his entire interview with Stephen King up on his blog – it’s longer that what was in the paper and very interesting.

Joyce Carol Oates

I have Joyce Carol Oates’ new novel Mudwoman just waiting for me finding time for it. This was the novel who JCO wrote while loosing her husband and writing her memoir A Widow’s Story. JCO’s next novel will be related to Mudwoman – fascinating. Here’s what JCO has to say herself about the forthcoming novel: ”Carthage” is in a way a companion novel to “Mudwoman” – it is set in a nearby small city in upstate New York  & is about the return of a severely wounded Iraqi War veteran & his effect upon his fiancee & her family.  As M.R. is an “intellectual” presence, so in this novel is the father of the young man’s fiancee, a lawyer. The novel is constructed as a mystery – but it is a mystery that is finally “solved.” (In this, it is not a teasing post-Modernist work that eludes meaning.) War is always a tragedy for a society – but especially for those who participate in it, & must return home to their old, now outgrown lives.

Now I’m wondering if I should wait and read all three together…

Carthage will be published on January 8, 2012.

Read the entire interview here.

Rushdie, Fitzgerald & Austen

So yeah, I’ve been book shopping again. And I really shouldn’t. It’s not like I haven’t got enough books to read. I really haven’t anything to say in my defense – except, well, it’s books and I love books. I was at the university for a job interview and of course, had to visit the book store. Here’s what I got.

Salam Rushdie: Midnight’s Children

Salman Rushdie is a very fascinating man. I follow him on twitter and he always has something interesting to say. He has written a lot of books and I’ve only read one of them so far, The Satanic Verse. This was one of those books where I felt, that I wasn’t clever enough – or at least hadn’t enough knowledge about it’s subject. I’ve been wanting to read Midnight’s Children for several years and I hope to get around to reading it even though I already have one Rushdie novel on my list of books I want to read this year. Rushdie is an author that I really hope I can get into – his books sounds so good. Besides, Midnight’s Children won the Booker of Bookers in 2008 – as well as the Best of Bookers in 1993 after first winning the Man Booker Prize in 1981.

About the book:

Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India’s independence, Saleem Sinai is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other ‘midnight’s children’ all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts. Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem’s story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

Years ago I watched The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford. I didn’t get it. I don’t remember anything from it except that it was Robert Redford. I think it’s one of those stories that you can’t appreciate before you reach a certain level of maturity. I’ve read some interesting reviews of this recently and I think – or at least hope – that I have reached a high enough level of maturity now to get it. By the way, I noticed that this year there’s new movie version of this story out – of course with Leonardo di Caprio …

About the book:

The parties at Gatsby’s Long Island mansion were legendarily glamorous affairs. Yet amid the throng of guests, starlets and champagne waiters, their host would appear oddly aloof. For there was only one person Jay Gatsby sought to impress. She was Daisy Buchanan: married, elegant, seducing men with a silken charisma and ‘a voice … full of money’. As Gatsby pursues shady deals and his doomed obsession with Daisy, F. Scott Fitzgerald distills the essence of the Jazz Age, and probes to the empty heart of the American Dream.

Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey

I’ve read three of Jane Austen’s novels so far – Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma. I liked them all three – I preferred Pride and Prejudice (although I think I prefer P & P with Colin Firth). I’m looking forward to reading this one. There’s just something about Austen, I like. Even though this book on the surface doesn’t sound special, I’m sure it is good since it’s Austen.

About the book:

Catherine Morland, an unremarkable tomboy as a child, is thrown amongst all the ‘difficulties and dangers’ of Bath at the ripe age of seventeen. Armed with an unworldly charm and a vivic imagination, she must overcome the caprices of elegant society, encountering along the way such characters as the vacuous Mrs Allen, coquettish Isabella and the brash bully John Thorpe. Catherine’s invitation to Northanger Abbey, in her eyes a haven of coffins, skeletons and other Gothic devices, does lead to an adventure, though one she didn’t expect, and her misjudgement of the ambitious, somewhat villainous General Tilney is not wholly unjustified. However, with the aid of the ‘unromantic’ hero Henry Tilney, Catherine gradually progresses towards maturity and self-knowledge.

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