Happy weekend everyone! This is the second part of my March 2022 Book Haul. For the first part, featuring books published in the past two years, you can click here. Without more ado, here is the second part of my March 2022 book haul.
Title: The Dragon’s Village: An Autobiographical Novel of Revolutionary China
Author: Yuan-Tsung Chen
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1981
No. of Pages: 285
Synopsis: Shanghai, 1949: It was a tumultuous moment in Chinese history, when changes wrought by the Communist victory were beginning to sweep the land. Seventeen-year-old Guan Ling-ling, idealistic and headstrong, renounces her life of middle-class privilege to join a revolutionary theater group that will bring reforms to the countryside. A city-bred schoolgirl, Ling-ling suddenly finds herself in a world so far from her own experience that she can barely understand the lives she has been sent to change. From the moment she enters tiny Longxiang (“The Dragon Village”) – a dusty hamlet in one of China’s most remote and impoverished areas – an unrelenting floor of events engulfs her: plots and counterplots, acts of violence, midnight raids, even glimmers of first love. Author Yuan-tsung Chen was a land-reform worker in Gansu Province in the 1950s. Her vivid autobiographical novel gives us history with a human face – a true insider’s view of a revolution that has long been wrapped in mystery and propaganda.
Title: Red Sorghum
Author: Mo Yan
Translator: Howard Goldblatt
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1993
No. of Pages: 359
Synopsis: Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty, as the Chinese battle both Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.
A legend in China, where it won major literary awards and inspired an Oscar-nominated film, Red Sorghum is a book in which fable and history collide to produce fiction that is entirely new – and unforgettable.
Title: Arrow of God
Author: Chinua Achebe
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 230
Synopsis: When Things Fall Apart ends, colonial rule has been introduced to Umuofia, and the character of the nation and its values, freedoms, and religious and sociopolitical foundations have substantially and irrevocably been altered. Arrow of God, the second novel in Chinua Achebe’s The African Trilogy, moves the historical narrative forward. This time, the action revolves around Ezeulu, the headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, which is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro. The novel is a meditation on the nature, uses, and responsibility of power and leadership. Ezeulu finds that his authority is increasingly under threat from rivals within his nation and functionaries of the newly established British colonial government. Yet he sees himself as untouchable. He is forced, with tragic consequences, to reconcile conflicting impulses in his own nature – a need to serve the protecting deity of his Umuaro people; a desire to retain control over their religious observances; and a need to gain increased personal power by pushing his authority to the limits. He ultimately fails as he leads his people to their own destruction and, consequently, his personal tragedy arises. Arrow of God is an unforgettable portrayal of the loss of faith and the downfall of a man in a society forever altered by colonialism.
Title: Under the Feet of Jesus
Author: Helena Maria Viramontes
Publisher: Plume Books
Publishing Date: April 1996
No. of Pages: 180
Synopsis: This exquisitely sensitive novel has the tensile strength of steel as it captures the conflict of cultures, the bitterness of wants, the sweetness of love, and the landscape of the human heart. At the center of this powerful tale is Estrella, a girl about to cross the perilous border to womanhood. What she knows of life comes from her mother, who has survived abandonment by her husband in a land that treats her as if she were invisible, even though she and her children pick the crops of the farms that feed its people. But within Estrella, seeds of growth and change are stirring. And in the arms of Alejo, they burst into a full, fierce flower as she tastes the joy and pain of first love. Pushed to the margins of society, she learns to fight back and is able to help the young farmworker she loves when his ambitions and very life are threatened in a harvest of death. Infused with the beauty of the California landscape and shifting splendors of the passing seasons juxtaposed with the bleakness of poverty, this vividly imagined novel is worthy of the people it celebrates and whose story it tells so magnificently. The simple, lyrical beauty of Viramontes’s prose, her haunting use of image and metaphor, and the urgency of her themes all announce Under the Feet of Jesus as a landmark work of American fiction.
Author: José Mármol
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publishing Date: 2001
No. of Pages: 643
Synopsis: Written by José Mármol while in exile, Amalia was conceived to protest the cut-throat dictatorship of Juan Migheul de Rosas during the tumultuous years of post-independence Argentina and to provide a picture of the political events during his regime. A year after its publication in 1851, Rosa fell from power, and Amalia became Argentina’s national novel. Though its classic and obligatory status as required reading in Argentina’s schools has clouded its sparkle, it is above all a brilliant and passionate book whose popularity stemmed from the love story that fuels its plot.
Mármol recounts the story of Eduardo and Amalia, who fall in love while Eduardo convalesces from a death-squad attack in Amalia’s home. At once a detailed picture of life under a dictatorship and a tragic love story between a provincial girl and a young man from Buenos Aires, Amalia displays Mármol’s patience with historical detail and his flair for dialogue and description and remains an enduring work of literature in Latin American and the world.
Author: Ángeles Mastretta
Translator: Margaret Sayers Peden
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Publishing Date: 1998
No. of Pages: 292
Synopsis: A bestseller throughout Latin America, Lovesick is the story of a passion interwoven with the history of a nation, a war, and a family. Emilia Sauri is torn between her love for her childhood playmate, Daniel Cuenca, who runs off to join the Mexican Revolution, and her desire to become a doctor. Her professional calling leads her to Antonio Zavalza, a physician whose only audacity is to desire peace in the midst of a civil war.
With an assured hand and a crystalline touch, reminiscent of the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Isabel Allende, Ángeles Mastretta presents the vivid portrait of a woman both fragile and bold, who enters the new century shedding the bonds and the prejudices of previous generations. As Emilia must sort through the affairs of her heart, so too must she confront the fate history presents – a nation wracked by years of war and society awakening to the tumult of the twentieth century, and the place for a woman of many passions.
Author: Yasutaka Tsutsui
Translator: Andrew Driver
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Publishing Date: February 2013
No. of Pages: 342
Synopsis: When prototype models for a dream-invading device go missing at the Institute for Psychiatric Research, employees soon learn that someone is using these new machines to drive them all insane. Brilliant psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba – whose alter ego is a dream detective named Paprika – realizes she is in danger She must venture into the dream world in order to fight her mysterious opponents. Soon nightmares begin to leak into daily life and the borderline between dream and reality grows unclear. The future of the waking world is at stake.
Yasutaka Tsutsui’s celebrated 1993 novel – the inspiration for the widely acclaimed anime film of the same name (“A gorgeous riot of future-shock ideas and brightly animated imagery… A mind-twisting, eye-tickling wonder,” The New York Times) – is a rollicking, wildly entertaining journey into the world of imagination.
Title: I’m Not Stiller
Author: Max Frisch
Translator: Michael Bullock
Publisher: Harcourt Brace
Publishing Date: 1994
No. of Pages: 384
Synopsis: Previously available in the United States only in an abridged version, I’m Not Stiller is now published for the first time in its entirety. It is the haunting story – part Kafka, part Camus – of a man in prison. His wife, brother, and mistress recognize him and call him by his name, Anatol Ludwig Stiller. But he rejects them, repeatedly insisting he’s not Stiller. Could he possibly be right – or is he deliberately trying to shake off his old identity and assume a new one?
Title: Giants in the Earth
Author: O. E. Rölvaag
Translator: Lincoln Colcord and O. E. Rölvaag
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Publishing Date: 1999
No. of Pages: 531
Synopsis: The classic story of a Norwegian pioneer family’s struggles with the land and the elements of the Dakota Territory as they try to make a new life in America.
Title: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
Author: Mario Vargas Llosa
Translator: Helen R. Lane
Publishing Date: October 2007
No. of Pages: 374
Synopsis: Mario Vargas Llosa’s masterful, multilayered novel is set in the Lima, Peru, of the author’s youth, where a young student named Marito is toiling away in the news department of a local radio station. His young life is disrupted by two arrivals.
The first is his aunt Julia, recently divorced and thirteen years older, with whom he begins a secret affair. The second is a manic radio scriptwriter named Pedro Camacho, whose racy, vituperative soap operas are holding the city’s listeners in thrall. Pedro chooses young Marito to be his confidant as he slowly goes insane.
Interweaving the story of Marito’s life with the ever-more-fevered tales of Pedro Camacho, Vargas Llosa’s novel is hilarious, mischievous, and masterful, a classic named one of the books of the year by The New York Times Book Review.
Title: Sugar Street
Author: Naguib Mahfouz
Translator: William Maynard Hutchins and Angele Botros Samaan
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publishing Date: January 1993
No. of Pages: 308
Synopsis: Sugar Street is the third and concluding volume of the celebrated Cairo Trilogy, which brings the story of Al-Sayid Ahmad and his family up to the middle of the twentieth century.
Aging and ill, the family patriarch surveys the world from his housewares’s latticed balcony, as his long-suffering wife once did. While his children face middle age, it is through his grandsons that we see a modern Egypt emerging. (Source: Goodreads)
Title: A Different World
Author: Zulfikar Ghose
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publishing Date: 1986
No. of Pages: 292
Synopsis: The final volume of Zulfikar Ghose’s widely acclaimed Brazilian Trilogy is his most erotic and dramatic in equal parts. Set in the 1970’s Brazil is ruled by a military dictatorship; terrorists, intellectuals and students have been arrested and there have been horrifying accounts of torture. Amid this turbulent setting is Gregorio Xavier, the second reincarnation of “The Incredible Brazilian,” who becomes involved in a political drama which makes him a powerful symbol of modern man struggling against the political turmoil of his times.
Title: The Lodging House
Author: Khairy Shalaby
Translator: Farouk Abdel Wahab
Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press
Publishing Date: 2006
No. of Pages: 426
Synopsis: A young man’s dreams for a better future as a student in the Teachers’ Institute are shattered after he assaults one of his instructors for discriminating against him. From then on, he begins his descent into the underworld. Penniless, he seeks refuge in Wikalat Atiya, a historic but now completely run-down caravanserai that has become the home of the town’s marginal and underprivileged characters.
This award-winning novel takes on epic dimensions as the narrator escorts us on a journey to this underworld, portraying – as he sinks further into its intricate relationships – the many characters that inhabit it.
Through a labyrinth of tales, reminiscent of the popular Arab tradition of storytelling, we are introduced to these denizens, whose lives oscillate between the real and the fantastic, the contemporary and the timeless. And while the narrator starts out as a spectator of these characters’ lives, he soon becomes an integral part of the lodging house’s community of rogues.
Title: One Hundred and One Ways
Author: Mako Yoshikawa
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publishing Date: May 1999
No. of Pages: 278
Synopsis: If Kiki Takehashi’s life is dramatically different from the one lived by her reserved Japanese-American mother, it is light-years away from that of her grandmother, whom she knows only through old family stories. Kiki has recently become engaged to Eric, a handsome, successful lawyer in New York City. But at the same time she is haunted – quite literally – by the memory of her friend Phillip, killed the previous year in a mountaineering accident.
As Kiki herself is well aware, her incessant mourning for Phillip – her love of a ghost – is endangering her chance at real-life happiness with Eric. Yet her relationship with Eric is also complicated by her fear that he is attracted to her only because of his erotic fascination with Asian women.
Kiki has never so much as met her grandmother, the woman for whom she is named. Still, thoroughly American though she is, she feels a secret kinship with the nearly legendary Yukiko, whose impoverished family sold her as a young girl to a geisha house. Kiki is swept up by the story of this strong, proud, passionate woman who, against all odds, in a time and place far different from her own, found the love that has so far eluded the rest of the Takehashi women.
For years, Kiki has collected questions to ask her grandmother – queries on subjects ranging from love, loss, and family to the myth of exoticism which hangs over Asian-American women and geishas alike. In the wake of Phillip’s return as a ghost, Kiki awaits Yukiko’s imminent visit to America with a renewed eagerness, trusting that this unknown woman will provide answers to the mysteries of her past and guide her on her way into the future.
Title: The Children’s Book
Author: A.S. Byatt
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Publishing Date: 2009
No. of Pages: 615
Synopsis: Olive Wellwood is a famous writer, interviewed with her children gathered at her knee. For each of them she writes a separate private book, bound in different colours and placed on a shelf. In their rambling house near Romney Marsh they play in a storybook world – but their lives, and those of their rich cousins, children of a city stockbroker, and their friends, the son and daughter of a curator at the new Victoria and Albert Museum, are already inscribed with mystery. Each family carries its own secrets.
Into their world comes a young stranger, a working-class boy from the potteries, drawn by the beauty of the Museum’s treasures. And in midsummer a German puppeteer arrives, bringing dark dramas. The world seems full of promise but the calm is already rocked by political differences, by Fabian arguments about class and free love, by the idealism of anarchists from Russia and Germany. The sons rebel against their parents’ plans; the girls dream of independent futures, becoming doctors or fighting for the vote.
This vivid, rich and moving saga is played out against the great, rippling tides of the day, taking us from the Kent marshes to Paris and Munich, and the trenches of the Somme. Born at the end of the Victorian era, growing up in the golden summers of Edwardian times, a whole generation grew up unaware of the darkness ahead. In their innocence, they were betrayed unintentionally by the adults who loved them. In a profound sense, this novel is indeed the children’s book.