Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Review: White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

India is a curious place to me and I enjoy reading books about it. I started 2010 with a read of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and decided I wanted to read more. So I grabbed this Booker Prize winning book and wasn't disappointed.

Balram tells us his story over the course of seven nights. Born in the dark parts of India he grew up being the son of a poor rickshaw driver and is now wanted for committing the crime of murdering his master to become. The Minister of China is going to visit India soon. Balram wants him to know the truth about India. And this truth can be best described within his story, so he decides to write to him.

Balram becomes hired the driver for the wealthiest man in his village. Soon his new world and the life of his master becomes a revelation of India. He goes for girls, drinks liquor, reads Murder Weekly and plays his role in the Rooster Coop of the Indian society but he also watches his employers going for girls, bribing ministers, drinking expensive liquor and playing their own role in the Rooster Coop. He tries to find a way out of this Coop by committing a murder which has bad consequences for his family.

I liked being told about this foreign society and learned from Balram that one has to eavesdrop on the right conversations to get a suitable education and decency in a corrupt world.

The character of Balram though is not very likable. One could say he is too foreign. But this I think could be intentionally done by the author.

I read this book for my Booker Challenge.

Bookish Christmas Presents

Among other presents this year I got BOOKS. As you can see in the picture I now am the proud owner of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, Kitchen and Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto and Blindness by José Saramago. Thanks to all the kind givers.

As I missed to post my It's Monday! What are you reading? I would like to catch up with it now. Actually I decided to let the year fade away with some relaxed rereading. I'm reading books in a series of four and try to finish Dracula by Bram Stoker as this is the last book from 2010 which I started reading but did not yet finish. I read other books in between as I wanted to participate in a game. Now I picked it up again.

I hope everybody had a pleasant Christmas. I would also like to know about your presents if you would like to share.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Top 10 Tuesday 12/21/10

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme to share your top ten bookish things. It is especially funny for people who like to make lists.

1. Blindness by José Saramgo -Blindness spreading among people like an infectious disease. I am curious.

2. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto - I heard good things about Yoshimoto's writing and I would like to try this and the next one for my Japanese Literature Challenge.

3. Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto - Another one for the Japanese Lit Challenge.

4. A Moleskine Weekly Calendar - I just love Moleskine calendars and notebooks. I'm pretty sure I'll get one as Santa brings one every year.

5. The Passage by Justin Cronin

6. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - Somebody I trust raved about this book but actually I'm going to wait for the paperback edition.

7. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood - As the Year of the Flood and this one are somehow related I'd like to read this one first. If I won't get it I will borough it from the library or buy a used one.

8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I intent to read this like hundreds of other books, but it would be a good start to have it within reach when I really want to take it up.

9. Still Alice by Lisa Genova - I actually know someone who owns it, I could borough it there too.

10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - There is no need to tell why I would like to try a Tolstoy, is there?

I will report back on you to which extend my wishes come true.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

MyTop 10 Reads of 2010

photo credit

1. Madame Curie by Eve Curie - Madame Curie is by far the most excellent biography I ever read, written by Marie Curie's daughter in the most sensitive way.

2. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy - A book about finding one's ways in life and one of the most curious findings: one does not need to live in Paris to get to know real life.

3. To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - What could I possibly add- I just loved it.

4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery - Nearly philosophical roamings about life and the love of literature. Already the third book on my list to be set in Paris.

5. In the Woods by Tana French - Suspenseful until the end, with an end not to be expected.

6. The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson - I'm for sure one of the biggest fans of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomquvist. I couldn't get enough of it.

7. A Tree grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - I love childhood memoirs. They let me see the world with "different" eyes.

8. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry - India is one of the mot curious places in the world, harboring very rich but many more poor people and their life's stories.

9. March by Geraldine Brooks - Based on the back of Alcott's Little Women, this book gives an insight in the lives of Mr. March and Marmee. Very interesting and very well done.

10. Her fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger - I was surprised by this one, but it seems not negatively surprised.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Review: March by Geraldine Brooks

This is the first book I read by Geraldine Brooks. I picked it up because of a challenge I participated in, where I was asked to read a book about a war in which America participated.

*Possible Spoiler Warning*

The book is set during the Civil War in America and is build on the back of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Mr. March decides to fight for the freeing of the slaves despite his advanced age. He leaves back his family to become an army chaplain. What he experiences he writes down in letters to his family although he dares not to tell the truth as it would worry his daughters and wife. The reader gets to know the real Mr. March, his feelings, his past and his present. Later he gets wounded while trying to free some former slaves, his fosterlings or pupils, from a new slavery. He is sent to a hospital in Washington and when he has recovered he is sent home.

Back in the bosom of his family he can be found broken as most war veterans with a feeling he has not done everything that stood in his powers.

The book reveals the truth about Mr. March as a character as well as Marmee. Tragically their relationship contains some misunderstandings between husband and wife. Only one example is that Mr. March donated a big fortune to a man with revolutionary ideas to free the slaves which did not turn out, because he thought this would make him more noble in the eyes of his wife, who adored the man who got the money. But Marmee would have never wanted to give all their money to a man and his ideas if this would lead her family in poverty and sometimes she feels this new poor live to be an imposition although she would never complain about the actions of her husband. I would call this a big misunderstanding and lack of communication.

*End of Spoilers*

Marmee becomes like a real character now due to Brooks' work. She sometimes looses her temper (a character flaw which adds to it) and when facing a female rival who stands in the favor of her husband she is not afraid to take actions. This all turns out near the end end when Brooks' inserts Marmee as narrator. For me that also shows Brooks' writing skills. She did not only manage to use the right tone for a book set during Civil War based on a famous novel, she also knows how to use her (or Alcott's?) characters to speak for themselves.

All that and more makes this book worth ★ ★ ★ ★ ★!

It's Monday! What are you reading?

“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila to share with others what you've read the past week and planning to read next.

I have finished:
March by Geraldine Brooks (review to follow soon)
The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (review to follow soon)

I have started:
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, which I have planned to read for more than a year now and which started to cover in dust on my bedside table. I decided it was time to pick it up and get another book for my complete booker challenge done.

I have planned to read from my shelf as it is bursting over with books I owned for a long time now and never read.