And it’s a wrap for May! I can’t believe we have already ticked off five months of 2022 and that we’re nearly midway through the year. I hope the year has been suitable for everyone so far. Otherwise, I hope that there will be a reversal of fortune in the coming months. But before we can move on to June, let me look back at the previous month. Reading-wise, May has been a great literary adventure. I focused mainly on the works of European writers. As always, it was scintillating. In some other parts, I haven’t been doing well, especially with my personal resolution of reading more and buying less. HAHA. It has been a struggle really for there are just too many books I want to read. Speaking of, in the past month, I have obtained a couple of books I am featuring in this book haul update. My May book haul will be divided into two, with the first part featuring books originally written in English. Happy reading!

Title: Into the Forest
Author: Jean Hegland
Publisher: The Dial Press
Publishing Date: September 1998
No. of Pages: 241

Synopsis: Eva, eighteen, and Nell, seventeen, are sisters, adolescents on the threshold of womanhood – and for them anything should be possible. But suddenly their lives are turned upside down, their dreams pushed into the shadows, as sickness and anarchy rage across a country on the brink of collapse. In a time of suspicion and superstition, of anger, hunger, and fear, Eva and Nell are left to forage through the forest, and their past, for the keys to survival. They must blaze a new path into the future as pioneers and pilgrims – not only creatures of the new world, but creators of it. Gripping and unforgettable, Into the Forest is a passionate and poignant tale of stirring sensuality and profound inspiration – a novel that will move you and surprise you and touch you to the core.

Title: The Women of Brewster Place
Author: Gloria Naylor
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1986
No. of Pages: 192

Synopsis: Brewster Place: a blind alley feeding into a dead end. Seven women have made their way there, and each has her own story in this extraordinary novel by Gloria Naylor. The women of Brewster Place are “hard-edged, soft-centered, brutally demanding, and easily pleased.” From a variety of backgrounds, with individual goals and dreams, they experience, fight against – and sometimes transcend – the fate of black women in America today.

Title: The Death of Jim Loney
Author: James Welch
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1987
No. of Pages: 179

Synopsis: Jim Loney is a half-breed, of white and Indian parentage. He is thirty-five years old and lives in a small Montana town. He is gently going mad.

Estranged from both his community and his Indian roots, Loney drinks cheap wine alone at night, trying to discover the origins of his despair. His dreams are filled with messages of doom, and they haunt his waking hours, changing his very soul. Rhea, his lover, cannot console him; Kate, his sister, cannot penetrate his world. And the old ones watch from afar, for they know when someone’s eyes betray a terrible destiny.

In this extraordinary novel, James Welch explores the fate of a man who is a stranger in society, a stranger to himself. In spare, moving prose, Welch offers a harrowing portrait of noble, inevitable self-destruction.

Title: Ancient Light
Author: John Banville
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 2012
No. of Pages: 245

Synopsis: In a small town in 1950s Ireland a fifteen-year-old boy has illicit meetings with a thirty-five-year-old woman – in the back of her car on sunny mornings, and in a rundown cottage in the country on rain-soaked afternoons. Unsure why she has chosen him, he becomes obsessed and tormented by this first love. Half a century later, actor Alexander Cleave – grieving for the recent loss of his daughter – recalls these trysts, trying to make sense of the boy he was and of the needs and frailties of the human heart.

Title: A Visit from the Goon Squad
Author: Jennifer Egan
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 340

Synopsis: Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

Title: The Candy House
Author: Jennifer Egan
Publisher: Scribner
Publishing Date: April 2022
No. of Pages: 334

Synopsis: The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, “a tech demigod on a first-name basis with the world.” Bix is forty, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he learns about a professor experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. It’s 2010. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious” – which allows you to access every memory you’ve ever had, and to share your own in exchange for access to the memories of others – has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.

In spellbinding interlocking narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also a testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy, and redemption.

The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. Egan takes new heights her “deeply intuitive forays into the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture” (Vogue). The Candy House delivers an absolutely extraordinary combination of fierce, exhilarating intelligence and heart.

Title: Black Swan Green
Author: David Mitchell
Publisher: Sceptre
Publishing Date: 2006
No. of Pages: 371

Synopsis: January, 1982. Thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor – covert stammerer and reluctant poet – anticipates a stultifying year in his backwater English village. But he hasn’t reckoned with bullies, simmering family discord, the Falklands War, a threatened gypsy invasion, and those mysterious entities known as girls. Charting thirteen months in the black hole between childhood and adolescence, this is a captivating novel, wry, painful, and vibrant with the stuff of life.

Title: The Robber Bride
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Publishing Date: November 1993
No. of Pages: 466

Synopsis: From the extraordinary imagination of Margaret Atwood, the author of the bestselling The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye, comes her most intricate and subversive novel yet.

Roz. Charis, and Tony – war babies all – share a wound, and her name is Zenia. Zenia is beautiful and smart and hungry, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless, the turbulent center of her own never-ending saga. Zenia entered their lives when they were in college, in the sixties; and over the three decades since, she damaged each of them badly, ensnaring their sympathy, betraying their trust, and treating their men as loot. Then Zenia died, or at any rate, the three women – with much relief – attended her funeral. But as The Robber Bride begins, she’s suddenly alive again, sauntering into the restaurant where they are innocently eating lunch.

In this consistently entertaining and profound new novel, Margaret Atwood reports from the farthest reaches of the war between the sexes, provocatively suggesting that if women are to be equal they must realize that they share with men both the capacity for villainy and the responsibility for moral choice. The group of women and men at the center of this funny and wholly involving story all fall prey to a chillingly recognizable menace, which is given power by their own fantasies and illusions. The Robber Bride is a novel to delight in – for its consummately crafted prose, for its rich and devious humor, and ultimately, for its compassion.

Title: The Hotel New Hampshire
Author: John Irving
Publisher: Henry Robbins Books
Publishing Date: 1981
No. of Pages: 401

Synopsis: Rarely in recent times has a voice so captured the imagination of critics and readers everywhere as JOhn Irving in his internationally acclaimed novel The World According to Garp.

In Mr. Irving’s newest novel, The Hotel New Hampshire, the reader is again seduced by the unfolding of a singular world. As John Berry, the narrator and middle son in a family of five children (and one bear and a dog named Sorrow), explains: “We were a family whose favorite story was the story of my mother and father’s romance: how Father bought the bear, how Mother and Father fell in love, in rapid succession, Frank, Franny, and me (‘Bang, Bang, Bang!’ as Franny would say); and, after a brief rest, how they then had Lilly and Egg (‘Pop and Fizzle,’ Franny says).”

That voice – at once nostalgic and direct – describes the Berry family growing up in three different hotels and on two separate continents. “The first of my father’s illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels.” What happens to Father’s dreams (and to the children upon whom those dreams are visited) is the subject of John Irving’s fifth and finest novel.