Big Bad Wolf, one of the biggest annual book fairs returned to Manila for the third consecutive year. With over two million books across over 33,000 titles, one will never run out of books to choose from. Unlike last year, I dropped by the book fair on its second day, hence, I had more books to choose from. Actually, I had chosen a lot and there were still a lot that I wanted to pick up. Without further ado, here’s the first batch of my Big Bad Wold haul.
Happy weekend reading everyone!
Title: The ABC Murders
Author: Agatha Christie
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 266
Synopsis: “Murder is a very simple crime. But in the hands of a maniac, a serial killer, it becomes a very complicated business.
With the whole country in a state of panic, the killer is growing more confident with each successive execution – Mrs. Ascher in Andover, Betty Barnard in Bexhill, Sir Carmicheal Clarke in Churston… But laying a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just be his first mistake.”
Author: James Joyce
Publisher: Vivi Books
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 233
Synopsis: “This collection of 15 stories presents a mosaic of Dublin life at the beginning of the twentieth century. Each of the stories reveals moments of epiphany in the lives of a cast of Dubliners.
Linked by place, the collection forms an arc across the various stages of life. In the opening stories, the protagonists are children coming to terms with adult experiences and emotions. The middle stories deal with love, the loss of dreams and the emptiness of lives constrained by social expectations. Dubliners ends with the longest and most well known of the collection – ‘The Dead’, in which, after an evening out with his wife, Gabriel Conroy has an epiphany about the nature of life and death.
More than 100 years since their first publication, these stories reveal enduring insights into human life, passion and emotion, while capturing Dublin and its people at a precise moment in time.”
Title: Sentimental Education
Author: Gustave Flaubert
Translator: Adrianne Took
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 448
Synopsis: “Sentimental Education has been described both as the first modern novel and as a novel to end all novels. Weaving a poignant love story into his account of the 1848 revolution, Flaubert shows a society in the grip of stereotypes, on every level. There is something farcical in his depiction of characters who aspire to act but are dogged by cliche at every turn. To a greater extent even than Madame Bovary, Sentimental Education is an indictment of modern consumerism, contrasting the hollowness of material achievement with the lasting beauty of the ideal. Flaubert’s study of success and failure offers us a terrible sadness in a terrible beauty, yet is one of the world’s great comic masterpieces.”
Title: Death by Water
Author: Kenzaburo Oe
Translator: Deborah Boliver Boehm
Publisher: Grove Press
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 424
Synopsis: “In Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s recurring protagonist Kogito Choko returns to his hometown in search of a red suitcase rumored to hold documents revealing the details of his father’s death during World War II. Sine his early days as a novelist, Choko planned to fictionalize his father’s fatal drowning in order to fully process the loss and he has long been driven to discover why his father was boating in the river during a torrential storm. When the contents of the suitcase turn out to offer little clarity, Choko abandons his new novel in creative despair. But when he collaborates with an avant-garde theater troupe, Choko is revitalized and he finds the will to continue investigating his father’s legacy for both personal and familial closure.”
Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Wiedenfield & Nicholson
Publishing Date: 2014
No. of Pages: 463
Synopsis: “There are two sides to every story…
Who are you?
What have we done to each other?
These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.
So what did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?”
Author: Shusako Endo
Translator: William Johnston
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 267
Synopsis: “It is 1640 and Jesuit priest Sebastian Rodrigues sets sail for Japan determined to help the brutally oppressed Christian there. He is also desperate to discover the truth about his former mentor, rumoured to have renounced his faith under torture. Rodrigues cannot believe the stories about a man he so revered, but as his journey takes him deeper into Japan and then into the hands of those who would crush his faith, he finds himself forced to make an impossible choice: to abandon his flock or his God…”
Title: Far from the Madding Crowd
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publisher: William Collins
Publishing Date: 2015
No. of Pages: 429
Synopsis: “I shall do one thing in this life – one thing certain – that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die.
Independent and spirited, Bathsheba Everdene owns the hearts of three men. Striving to win her love in different ways, their relationships with Bathsheba complicate her life in idyllic Wessex – and cast shadows over their own. With the morals and expectations of rural society weighing heavily upon her, Bathsheba experiences the torture of unrequited love and betrayal, and discovers how random acts of chance and tragedy can alter life’s course dramatically.”
Title: The City Always Wins
Author: Omar Robert Hamilton
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 307
Synopsis: “We’ve been doing the same thing for hundreds of years. Marching, fighting, chanting, dying, changing, winning, losing… This time will be different. This time the future can still be made new.
This is a revolution. On the streets of Cairo, a violent uprising is transforming the course of modern history. Mariam and Khalil, two young activists are swept up in the political fervour. Their lives will never be the same again.
Brave, visceral, and electric with tension, Omar Robert Hamilton’s debut novel uniquely captures the feverish intensity of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. From the euphoria of mass protests to the chilling silence of the morgue, The City Always Wins is the only novel that allows readers to piece to the bloody heart of the uprising.
Intensely lyrical, yet uncompromisingly political, Omar Robert Hamilton’s novel will become the defining voice of a revolution that promised so much to so many.”
Title: Stay With Me
Author: Ayobami Adebayo
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 296
Synopsis: “Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.
Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayoabmi Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.”
Title: The House Without Windows
Author: Nadia Hashimi
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 412
Synopsis: “For most of her life, Zeba has lived quietly in an Afghan village, a loyal wife and loving mother. But on one horrific day, her family’s world is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Covered in blood and catatonic with shock, Zeba refuses to explain what happened. Barely escaping a vengeful mob, she is sent to Kabul’s Chil Mahtab, a women’s prison.
As Zeba awaits trial, she befriends other women whose own misfortunes have led them to these bleak cells: Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her fro man honor killing; Latifa, a runaway who stays in the jail because it is a safe haven; and Mezhgan, pregnant and unmarried, jailed for zina, or “love crimes.” The women whisper among themselves: Is Zeba really a cold-blooded killer? Has she truly inherited her mother’s power of jadu – witchcraft – which can bend fate to her will? Can she save herself? Or them?
Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer, whose desire to help his homeland has brought him back. With the fate of this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, life Afghanistan itself, his client may bot be at all what he imagines.
A moving and offten surprising look at the lives of modern Afghan women, A House Without Windows is astonishing, unforgettable, and triumphant.”
Title: The Japanese Lover
Author: Isabel Allende“
Translator: Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson
Publisher: Atria Books
Publishing Date: November 2015
No. of Pages: 322
Synopsis: “In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis and the world goes to war, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her overseas to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the son of the family’s Japanese gardener, and between them a tender love blossoms. Following the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family – like thousands of other Japanese-Americans – are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichemei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.
Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, and learn about Ichimei and his extraordinary secret passion that has endured nearly seventy years.
Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives. Written with the same attention to historical detail and keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel, The House of the Spirits, The Japanese Lover is a profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.”
Title: The Idiot
Author: Elif Batuman
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 423
Synopsis: “The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.
At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach Engilsh in a program run by one of Ivan’s friends. On the way, she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin’s summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students, or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love, and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer.
With superlative emotional and intellectual sensitivity, mordant wit, and pitch-perfect style, Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood. Her prose is a rare and inimitable combination of tenderness and wisdom; its logic as natural and inscrutable as that of memory itself. The Idiot is a heroic yet self-effacing reckoning with the terror and joy of becoming a person in a world that is as intoxicating as its is disquieting. Batuman’s fiction is unguarded against both life’s affront an its beauty – and has at its command the complete range of thinking and feeling that they entail.”