I guess no month is complete without purchasing at least one book. Buying books has become such a pet peeve (or an addiction) that is quite difficult to walk away from no matter how hard I try to turn away. Hmmm. Anyway, here’s the list of my November 2019 book haul.
Title: Ducks, Newburyport
Author: Lucy Ellmann
Publishing Date: September 2019
No. of Pages: 988
Synopsis: “Baking a multitude of tartes tatin for local restaurants, an Ohio housewife contemplates her four kids, husband, cats and chickens. Also, America’s ignoble past, and her own regrets. She is surrounded by dead lakes, fake facts, Open Carry maniacs, and oodles of online advice about survivalism, veil toss duties, and how to be more like Jane Fonda. But what do you do when you keep stepping on your son’s toy tractors, your life depends on stolen land and broken treaties, and nobody helps you when you get a flat tire on the interstate, not even the Abominable Snowman? When are you allowed to start swearing.
With a torrent of consciousness and an intoxicating coziness, Ducks, Newburyport lays out a whole world for you to tramp around in, by turns frightening and funny. A heart-rending indictment of America’s barbarity, and lament for the way we are blundering into environmental disaster, this book is both heresy – and a revolution in the novel.”
Author: William Gibson
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 297
Synopsis: “William Gibson revolutionised science fiction in his 1984 debut Neuromancer. The writer who gave us the matrix and coined the term ‘cyberspace’ produced a first novel that won the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards, and lit the fuse on the Cyberpunk movement.
More than three decades later, Gibson’s text is as stylish as ever, his noir narrative still glitters like chrome in the shadows and his depictions of the rise and abuse of corporate power look more prescient every day. Part thriller, part warning, Neuromancer is a timeless classic of modern SF and one of the 20th century’s most potent and compelling visions of the future.”
Title: The Island of Sea Women
Author: Lisa See
Publishing Date: March 2019
No. of Pages: 365
Synopsis: “Set on the island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. Over many decades – through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers – Mi-ja and Young-sook develop the closes of bonds. But after hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point.”
Title: The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic
Author: Nick Joaquin
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 432
Synopsis: “Nick Joaquin is widely considered one of the greatest Filipino writers, but he has remained little-known outside the Philippines despite writing in English. Set amid the ruins of Manila devastated by World War II, his stories are steeped in the postcolonial anguish and hopes of his era and meditate on the challenges of the Filipino individual’s new freedom after a long history of colonialism. This collection includes his best-known stories and his celebrate play, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.
Title: Parallel Stories
Author: Péter Nádas
Translator: Imre Goldstein (from Hungarian)
Publishing Date: 2011
No. of Pages: 1133
Synopsis: “In 1989, the year the wall came down, a university student in Berlin on his morning run finds a corpse on a park bench and alerts the authorities. This scene opens a novel of extraordinary scope and depth, a masterwork that traces the fate of myriad European – Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Gypsies – across the treacherous years of the mid twentieth century.
Three unusual men are at the heart of Parallel Stories: Hans Von Wolkenstein, whose German mother is linked to secrets of fascist-Nazi collaboration during the 1940s; Agost Lippay Lehr, whose influential father served Hungary’s different political regimes for decades; and Andras Rott, who has his own dark record of mysterious activities abroad. The web of extended and interconnected dramas reaches from 1989 back to the spring of 1939, when Europe trembled on the edge of war, and extends to the bestial times of 1944-45, when Budapest was besieged the Final Solution devastated Hungary’s Jews, and the war came to an end, and on to the cataclysmic Hungarian Revolution of October 1956. We follow these men from Berlin and Moscow to Switzerland and Holland, from Mediterranean to the North Sea, and of course, from village to city in Hungary. The social and political circumstances of their lives may vary greatly, their sexual and spiritual longings may seem to each of them entirely unique, yet Péter Nádas’s magnificent tapestry unveils uncanny reverberating parallels that link them across time and space.
This is Péter Nádas’s materpiece – eitheen years in the writing, a sensation in Hungary even before it was published, and almost four years in the translating. Parallel Stories is the first foreign translation of this daring, demanding, and momentous novel, and it confirms for an even larger audience what Hungary already knows: that it is the author’s greatest work.”
Author: Michael Chabon
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 500
Synopsis: “Summerland is a magical place, where the local Little League gathers to play baseball on a perfectly manicured lawn, and the sun is always shining in a flawless blue sky. However, the small beings known as ferishers, who ensure this perfect weather, are being threatened by an ancient enemy and a need a hero – a baseball star, in fact – to vanquish their foe.
The ferishers recruit Ethan Feld, possibly the worst ballplayer in the history of the league, as their chosen leader. No one is more surprised than Ethan at their choice, but their faith spurs him on.
Accompanied by his determined friend Jennifer T. Rideout and a motley crew of creatures that includes everything from a Sasquatch to a werefox, Ethan struggles to defeat giants, bat-winged goblins, and one of the toughest ball clubs in the realms of magic to save the Summerlands, and ultimately the world.”
Title: Schindler’s List
Author: Thomas Keneally
Publishing Date: 1993
No. of Pages: 397
Synopsis: “A stunning novel based on the true story of how German war profiteer and prison camp Direktor Oskar Schindler came to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other single person during World War II.
In this milestone of Holocaust literature, Thomas Keneally uses the actual testimony of the Schindlerjuden – Schindler’s Jews – to brilliantly portray the courage and cunning of a good man in the midst of unspeakable evil.”
Title: Behold the Dreamers
Author: Imbolo Mbue
Publisher: Random House
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 382
Synopsis: “Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni and their six-year-old son. IN the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at their summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employer’s facades.
Then the financial world is rocked with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global econpmy. Desperate to keep Jende’s job, which grows more tenuous by the day, the Jongas try to protect the Edwardses from certain truths, even as their own marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.”
Whilst I’m looking forward to reading all of these books, I can’t help but exclaim how excited I am to read Ducks, Newburyport and Parallel Stories. The blurb surrounding the former is too much for me not to jump into the bandwagon. Moreover, it was shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. There was limited copy of the book for sale in the Philippines and I was elated that I was able to avail a copy of the book. The latter was a gem of a find. I didn’t expect to find it in a used-books bookstore. For a thousand-pager, it only cost me PHP 175 (roughly 3.25 USD)! Peter Nadas is, however, a new territory to me. I’ve only heard of him during this year’s Pulitzer Prize in Literature rush. I am, however, more than looking forward to the experience. The only dampener in these two books – they’re so longgggg! Haha. On a positive note, I’ve always gravitated towards lengthier narratives.
Happy reading everyone!