And it’s a new month again! Wow, we are four months down already. Time does fly fast. Reading-wise, the first four months of the year have been filled with different reading adventures. I have regained the reading momentum I have lost towards the end of 2021. However, I have failed to read more and buy lesser books, which is a part of my yearly resolution; I have failed horribly every single time. But still, it is still too early to accept defeat. Who knows what the rest of the year holds right? Without more ado, here are the books I purchased in April 2022. I still have a couple in transit (HAHA), mostly works of Japanese literature, but I am featuring only those that I have received.
Title: Notes on an Execution
Author: Danya Kukafka
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 304
Synopsis: Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done and now awaits execution, the same chillin’ fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood.
Through a kaleidoscope of women – a mother, a sister, a homicide detective – we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.
Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.
Title: Death on the Nile
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: William Morrow
Publishing Date: 2011
No. of Pages: 333
Synopsis: The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything… until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems.
Title: To Paradise
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 704
Synopsis: In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people live with and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him – and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.
These three sections are joined in an enthralling ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: a townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters but these Americas are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.
To Paradise is a fin-de-siècle novel of marvelous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara’s understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love – partners, lovers, children, friends, family, and even our fellow citizens – and the pain that ensues when we cannot.
Title: O Beautiful
Author: Jung Yun
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 306
Synopsis: Elinor Hanson, a fortysomething former model, is struggling to reinvent herself as a freelance writer when she receives an unexpected assignment. Her mentor from grad school offers her a chance to write for a prestigious magazine about the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota. Elinor grew p near the Bakken, raised by an overbearing father and a distant Korean mother who met and married when he was stationed overseas. After decades away from home, Elinor returns to a landscape she hardly recognizes, overrun by tens of thousands of newcomers. Surrounded by roughnecks seeking their fortunes in oil and longtime residents worried about their changing community, Elinor experiences a profound sense of alienation and grief. She rages at the unrelenting male age, the locals who still see her as a foreigner, and the memories of her family’s estrangement after her mother decided to escape her unhappy marriage, leaving Elinor and her sister behind. The longer she pursues this potentially career-altering assignment, the more her past intertwines with the story she’s trying to tell.
With spare and graceful prose, O Beautiful presents an immersive portrait of a community rife with tensions and competing interests, and one woman’s attempts to reconcile her anger with her love of a beautiful but troubled land.
Title: 20Fragments of a Ravenous Youth
Author: Xiaolu Guo
Translators: Rebecca Morris, Pamela Casey
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 204
Synopsis: This is the story of Fenfang who, determined to carve out a life more independent than her provincial roots, gets a job as a film extra in Beijing. But living a modern life is not as easy as it looks in this tumultuous, messy city.
Grappling with the narrow world of a cinema, an outworn communist regime and the city’s far-from-progressive attitudes to women, charismatic Fenfang finds her true freedom in the one place she never expected.
20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth is a sparkling and wry coming-of-age story about the changing identity of women in contemporary China.
Title: Sabbath’s Theater
Author: Philip Roth
Publishing Date: 1996
No. of Pages: 451
Synopsis: Sabbath’s Theater is a comic creation of epic proportions, and Mickey Sabbath is its gargantuan hero. Once a scandalously inventive puppeteer, Sabbath at sixty-four is still defiantly antagonistic and exceedingly libidinous. But after the death of his long-time mistress—an erotic free spirit whose adulterous daring surpassed even his own—Sabbath embarks on a turbulent journey into his past. Bereft and grieving, besieged by the ghosts of those who loved and hated him most, he contrives a succession of farcical disasters that take him to the brink of madness and extinction. (Source: Goodreads)
Author: J.M. Coetzee
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 169
Synopsis: Youth’s narrator, a student in 1950s South Africa, has long been plotting an escape from his native country. Studying mathematics, reading poetry, saving money, he trie to ensure that when he arrives in the real world he will be prepared to experience life to its full intensity, and transform it into art. Arriving at least in London, however, he finds neither poetry nor romance. Instead he succumbs to the monotony of life as a computer programmer, from which random, loveless affairs offer no relief. Devoid of inspiration, he stops writing and begins a dark pilgrimage in which he is continually tested and continually found wanting.
Set against the background of the 1960s, Youth is a remarkable portrait of a consciousness turning in on itself. J.M. Coetzee explores a young man’s struggle to find his way in the world with tenderness and a fierce clarity.
Title: Alias Grace
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publishing Date: 1998
No. of Pages: 542
Synopsis: “Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor” Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim?
Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery.
Author: Salman Rushdie
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 259
Synopsis: Malik Solanka, historian of ideas and dollmaker extraordinaire, steps out of his life one day, abandons his family without a word of explanation, and flees to New York. There’s a fury within him, and he fears that he has become dangerous to those he loves. He arrives in New York at a time of unprecedented plenty, in the highest hour of America’s wealth and power, seeking to “erase” himself.
But fury is all around him. Cab drivers spout invective. A serial killer is murdering women with a lump of concrete. The petty spats and bone-deep resentments of the metropolis engulf him. Meanwhile, his own thoughts, emotions and desires are also running wild. A young woman in a D’Angelo baseball cap is in store. Also another woman, with whom he will fall in love and be drawn towards a different fury, whose roots lie on the far side of the world.
Title: The Wedding
Author: Yann Queffélec
Translator: Linda Coverdale
Publishing Date: 1989
No. of Pages: 278
Synopsis: In a small French town the baker’s daughter is brutally raped. She bears a son, Ludo, whose love for his mother is strong and passionate. She, however, has only to look into his piercing green eyes to be reminded of the terrible night of his conception, a memory which haunts their relationship to the end of their days.