Wah, May is within reach. I can’t believe that we’re already leaving April behind. We’re four months into 2021 although it doesn’t really feel like it. Maybe because I have been cooped up. Nevertheless, I hope everyone is having a great midweek. Happy Wednesday everyone! I also hope you are all safe. 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:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What have you finished reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am closing my Asian literature month with a contemporary Korean literary piece. As mentioned during this week’s Goodreads Monday update, Almond is a book that I used to shrug off, even after learning that it earned global popularity after BTS’ Suga was seen reading a copy of the book. I finally relented last weekend and bought my own copy of the book, with the intention of reading it as my final book for April. I haven’t started reading it although I did read the notes and it was enough to pique my curiosity. It talked about alexithymia, or the incapacity to express or identify one’s feelings. This is the first time I have heard of this but it sure is a good starting point. (Earlier today, I was recommending to a friend a book by Jodi Picoult about Asperger’s Syndrome.)

What have you finished reading?

I was one of those who were looking forward to Viet Thanh Nguyen’s latest work. It was through Twitter that I have learned about his newest work a couple of months aback; I am one of his followers. He gained a fan in me with his debut novel, the Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, The Sympathizer. The Committed is a sequel to the story of the titular Sympathizer, sometimes known as Vo Danh. From United States, he and his friend, Bon, moved to the French capital where they were employed by the Boss, gang leader who worked his way up to the upper echelons of the Parisian underworld. The novel grappled with universal themes of colonialization (such as the one shared by the Vietnamese and the Algerians), the drug and black market trade, criminality, to more personal subjects such as existentialism and the skewed sense of loyalty. The Sympathizer’s voice was clearer this time around. It was still a good book, only undone by its tendencies for repetition; readers will repeatedly encounter Sartre, Fanon and Césaire and their teachings and philosophies in the story.

From Vietnam, I traveled, at least through literature, to Iran, a country that has long riveted me with its diversity and colorful history. The first time I encountered Shahrnush Parsipur’s Women Without Men last year, I immediately knew I had to have it; the subtitle, A Novel of Modern Iran, was an added incentive. Women Without Men is the story of five women – Mahdokht, Faizeh, Munis, Mrs. Farrookhlaqa Sadraldivan Golchehreh, and Zarrinkolah – whose individual journeys have led them to converge in a garden in Karaj. It was a quick-paced read, but the personality of each character made the story blossom. It is a universal story about the struggles of women in highly patriarchal societies. However, before I could fully enjoy it, it ended abruptly. I was caught off guard by the sudden ending. The Afterword did help me understand Parsipur’s motivation in writing Women Without Men (an antithesis to Ernest Hemingway’s Men Without Men). The condition of women in modern Iran is simply heartbreaking. It was for this book that Parsipur sought refugee status in the United States.

What will you read next?

From African literature in March to Asian Literature in April, my next literary destination is South America. Come to think of it, I have never had a South American literature month before although I have read some of the works of famed South writers such as Nobel Laureates in Literature Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. To kick off my next adventure, I have picked a popular South American writer whose works I have never read before. The Savage Detectives is a title that I come running across in several must-read lists and finally the moment has come for me to take a dip into my first Roberto Bolaño novel. I have been looking forward to this experience, to find out what the Chilean writer has in store. Just like in April, I will be following up a “new” author with a familiar author. Memories of My Melancholy Whores, shorter by a lot than The Savage Detectives will be my fifth from the prolific Colombian storyteller.

Thus concludes another WWW Wednesday update! I hope everyone is having a great midweek! Do keep safe and as always, enjoy reading!