Happy Wednesday everyone! I am hoping and praying that everyone is safe and is enjoying the fourth month of the year. Wednesdays also mean WWW Wednesday update. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday is quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:
- What are you currently reading?
- What have you finished reading?
- What will you read next?
What are you currently reading?
Moving forward with my Asian Literature Month. I am about to start with my second Elif Shafak novel. I bought The Bastard of Istanbul over two years ago, bereft of any idea on what it was about. The title did pique my interest. Upon researching more about the book, I learned that it was a controversial one that led to legal disputes on a national scale. During the same year I bought the book, Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, further piquing my interest into Shafak’s literary repertoire. Ironically, I read her latest work first before The Bastard of Istanbul but here I am now, about to commence my second journey into Shafak’s body of work.
What have you finished reading?
Despite my busy schedule this past week (mainly due to last minute dash towards the annual tax filing due tomorrow), I somehow managed to complete reading three novels. The first novel I managed to complete was Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s Umrao Jan Ada. It is widely acknowledged to be the first Urdu novel. It is the personal account of the titular Umrao Jan Ada, a courtesan in Lucknow. Originally born as Amiran to a modest family in Faizabad, the young Amiran was kidnapped newly-freed criminal Dilawar Khan. She was ultimately sold to Khanum Jaan who had her trained for classical music. Umrao Jan Ada offers an intimate profile of a woman who lived her life entertaining men, including powerful and rich men. It was both an insightful and poignant narrative often accented by poems and lyrical lines to convey deep emotions.
My literary journey next brought me to a book I have been looking forward to ever since I first heard about it. I was excited when Nobel Laureate in Literature Kazuo Ishiguro dropped the announcement that he is going to publish his first novel since winning the prestigious literary prize. Thankfully, it wasn’t as difficult obtaining a copy of his work. Klara and the Sun relates the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend bought by a young girl named Josie. Klara served as a companion to the sickly young girl. Whilst I admire Ishiguro’s resolve to explore the uncomfortable, I was nevertheless left hapless by the book’s lack of direction. There was no character that reeled me in and just when the story was heading towards a clarity (and just when you’ve settled in with the discomfort), Ishiguro redirected the plot and gave it a predictable conclusion. I liked Ishiguro’s earlier works but his last two (this and The Buried Giant) works just ain’t it.
I just finished reading Jose Dalisay’s Soledad’s Sister earlier today. It is my first Filipino work today, and also in over a year. Soledad’s Sister was a recent purchase but I made an exception (of making it wait a little longer) since I am in the midst of an Asian Literature Month. Soledad assumed her sister, Aurora’s identity to be able to go work overseas again. Her first time working abroad did not end very well as she was impregnated. With a son in tow, she knew she must go back abroad because there lies their only hope of succeeding in life. However, Soledad ended up dead, one of 600 cold bodies returning to the Philippines annually. Soledad’s Sister is a vivid portrayal of contemporary Philippines, a nation whose citizens still believe that the greener pastures lie abroad. This was my first work by Dalisay but his lyrical prose made me long for more.
What will you read next?
I am not yet set on what I want to read next but Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed, the sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning debut work, is on top of the list. That is if I manage to purchase a copy of the book within the book (haha). Another book on my list is Yasmina Khadra’s The Sirens of Baghdad, one of many books I bought within any iota on what it was about. If my memory serves me right, it is a book set in an Iraq recently invaded and occupied by the Americans.
Thus concludes another WWW Wednesday update! I hope everyone is having a great midweek! Do keep safe and as always, enjoy reading!