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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. The life he foresees for himself and the tale he tells is full of sadness and tragedy, but inexplicably he is born with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro's loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus's story.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Kazu runs her restaurant with charm and shrewdness, but when she falls in love with one of her clients, she renounces her business to become his wife. When Kazu decides to ressurect her husbands political career she is forced to choose between her marriage and her irrepressible vitality.
Friday, October 21, 2011
A magical mixture of East meets West, mothers in conflict with daughters, and the healing power of food. Nalini and her two young children are transplanted from luxury in India to the bewildering confusion of London, only to be abandoned by her negligent husband. At first survival is a struggle, but Nalini turns to what she does best: cooking. Her mouthwatering pickles bring financial stability and domestic happiness, as well as affecting everyone who tastes them. Everyone, that is, except for her daughter, Maya. Maya loves fish fingers, burgers, and chips. She's not interested in her history; that died with her father. Resisting the pull of her family, she follows her own chaotic journey which will take her back to India before she can face the truth about her parents, forgive them and herself—and admit that lime pickle is delicious, after all.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Yoko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (Translator)
He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem--ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.
She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him.
And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities--like the Housekeeper’s shoe size--and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.
The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Fumiko Enchi, John Bester (Translator)
The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo's real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another ... and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son.... And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.
In a series of colorful, unforgettable scenes, Enchi brilliantly handles the human interplay within the ill-fated Shirakawa family. Japan's leading woman novelist and a member of the prestigious Art Academy, she combines a graceful, evocative style that consciously echoes the Tale of Genji with keen insight and an impressive ability to develop her characters over a long period of time. Her work is rooted deep in the female psychology, and it is her women above all-so clearly differentiated yet all so utterly feminine-who live in the memory. With The Waiting Years, a new and important literary figure makes her debut in the Western world.
"It was the end of summer, a summer during a two-year nightmare. African American children around Atlanta were vanishing, and twenty-nine would be murdered by the end of 1981. Like all kids across the city, fifth-grade classmates Tasha Baxter, Rodney Green, and Octavia Harrison were discovering that back-to-school now meant special safety lessons, indoor recess, and being thrown into a world their parents couldn't comprehend, one in which the everyday challenges of growing up were coupled with constant fear - and the news of the murders of one's peers." Tasha can't understand why she daily falls in and out of favor with her classmates - she isn't weird like Rodney or "too dark" and outspoken like Octavia. Then, through a sudden crush on a boy from the wrong side of town, she finds that words have the power to both heal and wound. (The next thought was that Tasha herself had brought it upon him with her hateful words. "I hope the man snatches you." And she meant it when she said it.).