Happy Wednesday everyone! How are you enjoying 2022 so far? I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the risks that surround us. I hope that the pandemic will end soon. I am also praying that 2022 will be a year of hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that it will be a great year. Wow, today is the second day of the third month of the year. Why do I feel like we were just celebrating the new year a couple of weeks ago? Dang, time flies!
As it is a Wednesday, it is time for another 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?
I am currently reading my 19th novel for the year. When Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk was announced as the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Nobel committee prominently mentioned one of her works as her magnum opus. That book was The Books of Jacob, which was originally published in 2014 in Polish. In 2021, the English-translated version of the novel was made available. The Books of Jacob is my third novel by Tokarczuk; I have previously read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and Flights. Each of these books has provided me interesting reading journeys. The Books of Jacob is no different. It also provided me a new perspective on Tokarczuk’s prose. At nearly a thousand pages long, it is my longest read in fifteen months. The book chronicles the life of Jacob Frank, an eighteenth-century religious leader who claimed to be the reincarnation of a seventeenth-century self-proclaimed messiah, Sabbatai Zevi. It is not an easy read as Tokarczuk populated the book with several characters while shifting to different perspectives. I am nearly done with the book and I can’t help but be astounded by the amount of research Tokarczuk poured into what many refer to as her best work.
What have you finished reading?
After a sluggish week, I had a good reading week as I managed to complete two books. But then again, they are both shorter than Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads. The first of these two books is Tayor Jenkins Reid’s 2021 novel, Malibu Rising. I was apprehensive about reading Reid’s works because I had this misconception that they are works of young adult fiction. I eventually learned I was wrong when I decided to read the synopsis of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. While I was able to obtain a copy of Evelyn Hugo first, I decided to read Malibu Rising first since I am on a 2021 reading catch-up journey. Set in the idyllic surfing haven of Malibu, California, the novel charts the story of the Riva siblings. Their father, Mike was a popular singer but he was also a jerk who abandoned them to their mother’s care. It is a complex family saga but I barely sympathized with any of the characters, except perhaps for their mother, June. I guess I had too high of an expectation of the book. I love family sagas but I found this novel a tad too simple for my taste.
I was hoping to make up for the disappointing experience with my second novel by Japanese novelist Mieko Kawakami, who has risen to global fame due to the success of Breasts and Eggs. I liked Breasts and Eggs but I felt the translation lacked the nuances of language one could expect in Japanese work. Nevertheless, it did enough to pique my interest in her prose. In 2021, her latest English-translated work, Heaven, was published. Originally published in 2009, Heaven is set in 1991 Japan and is narrated by a 14-year-old boy who was unnamed for the entirety of the story. He had a physical affliction, a lazy eye, which made him the subject of bullying at his high school. One day, he received a note from an anonymous sender. This note, while suspicious at first, provided a badly needed respite from the bullying he has been receiving at school. Bullying was the book’s major theme and Kawakami provided some insights into the psychology of bullying, from the perspective of both the bullied and the bully. However, I felt like Kawakami was not able to fully address the issue. Writing-wise, or perhaps translation-wise, I liked Heaven better than Breasts and Eggs.
What will you read next?
In March, the world is celebrating International Women’s month; the Philippines has tagged March as Fire Prevention Month. (By the way, I didn’t realize that all books featured in this WWW Wednesday update were written by women). With this in mind, I have decided to immerse myself in the works of female writers. The first book I have in mind is Danish writer Tove Ditlevson’s The Copenhagen Trilogy. Three of her memoirs were collectively published as a single volume for the first time in 2021. By reading some materials on her, I have learned about some details of her life. This makes me look forward to reading her memoir. Honestly, I am reminded of Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy and Pedro Juan Gutiérrez’s Dirty Havana Trilogy although I am cognizant that neither book is a memoir.
One of the writers that made an impression on me last year was Guadeloupean Maryse Condé, touted as the queen of Caribbean literature. She won me over with Crossing the Mangrove and this year, I am hoping to gain more insights into her prose through one of her most renowned works, Segu. Unlike Segu, which I acquired last year, it has been some time since I acquired Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. 2018 to be exact. I have been meaning to read it only for it to be bypassed by other novels. Yes, my fault. HAHA. To finally read the book, I included it in my 2022 Top 22 Reading List. Segu and The Books of Jacob are also a part of the aforementioned list.
That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!