This is the second part of my July book haul. The first part featured books published during this year. The second part is a set of eclectic works I obtained during the month. Happy reading!
Title: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Author: Judy Blume
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publishing Date: 2015
No. of Pages: 152
Synopsis: Margaret Simon can’t wait to grow up. Her new friends swear they’ll tell each other everything – first bras, first kisses, first periods, everything. But some things are just too private to talk about, even with your friends, especially when you’re the new girl at school and trying to fit in. Luckily for Margaret she’s got someone else to confide in – someone who always listens.
Author: Ignazio Silone
Translator: Eric Mosbacher
Publishing Date: November 15, 1994
No. of Pages: 160
Synopsis: It is Silone’s first novel and is among his most famous works. It received worldwide acclaim and sold more than a million and a half copies in twenty-seven languages. It was first published in German translation in Zurich, Switzerland in 1933, and was published in English by Penguin Books in September 1934. Fontamara is derived from the Italian ‘Fonte Amara’ (Bitter Stream.) Appearing on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, and published just a few months after Hitler came to power, when the world was beginning to take sides for or against fascism, the novel had a galvanising effect on public opinion. Fontamara ‘became the very symbol of resistance’ and ‘is widely agreed to have played a major role as a document of anti-Fascist propaganda outside Italy in the late 1930s,’ as it criticises the deceitful and immoral nature of the Fascist party and its followers.
Fontamara is a fictional small rural village in Marsica in the Abruzzo region. The people (the Fontamaresi) are poor and the village is very remote to the extent that the citizens are unaware of world events such as the rise of Fascism. There is a tremendous gap between the ‘’cafoni’’ (peasants) who populate ‘’Fontamara’’ and those who live in the city. The Fontamaresi work the Earth to survive, turn to emigration as a means of economic improvement and are ignorant to events happening outside of their town. They are cut off from the rest of Italy and thus unaffected by modernity and new technology. The Impresario is a stark contrast to the Fontamaresi, who have laboured for centuries to little avail, as he quickly became the richest man in the region and embodies the power, authority and immorality of the Fascists. The Fontamaresi are exploited due to their naïvety and ignorance, the women are raped by the squadristi (a group of Fascists), Berardo Viola makes the ultimate sacrifice to allow the continued distribution of clandestine texts to spread the word about socialism and encourage rebellion against Fascism and at the end the majority of the population are killed at the hands of the Government. (Source: Goodreads)
Title: Brighton Rock
Author: Graham Greene
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1977
No. of Pages: 247
Synopsis: Graham Greene’s chilling expose of violence and gang warfarin the pre-war underworld is a classic of its kind.
Pinkie, the teenage gangster, is devoid of compassion or human feeling, despising weakness of the spirit or of the flesh. Responsible for the razor slashes that killed Kite and also for the death of Hale, he is the embodiment of calculated evil. As a Catholic, however, he is convinced that his retribution does not lie in human hands.
He is therefore not prepared for Ida Arnold, Hale’s avenging angel. Ida, whose allegiance is with life, the here and now, has her own ideas about the circumstances surrounding Hale’s death. For the sheer joy of it she takes up the challenge of bringing the infernal Pinkie to an earthly kind of justice.
Title: The Thirty-Nine Steps/Greenmantle
Author: John Buchan
Publisher: ImPress Mystery
Publishing Date: 2009
No. of Pages: 401
Synopsis: Most novels – even outstanding ones – fade from popular memory after a while. But John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) has remained well-known to mystery fans for decades, both by virtue of the book itself and due to the fame of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film that was based on the story. Buchan was one of Hitchcock’s favorite writers, and with good reason. Buchan’s ability to create and build suspense through characters, plot development, and his unforgettable descriptions of the Scottish countryside made him a Hitchcockian natural.
Buchan wrote The Thirty-Nine Steps when he was convalescing from illness and was unable to join the army due to age and poor health. It was a resounding success immediately upon publication. In fact, it was so popular that Buchan quickly set about writing a sequel, Greenmantle (1916). Both books remain classics today, nearly a century after they were written.
Title: We That Are Young
Author: Preti Taneja
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publishing Date: July 2019
No. of Pages: 480
Synopsis: When a billionaire hotelier and political operator attempts to pit his three daughters against one another, a brutal struggle for primacy begins in this modern-day take on Shakespeare’s King Lear. Set in contemporary India, where rich men are gods while farmers starve and water is fast running out, We That Are Young is a story about power and corruption; about the tyranny of a megalomaniac father and the difficult love between sisters. A searing exploration of human fallibility, Preti Taneja’s remarkable novel reveals the fragility of the human heart – and its inevitable breaking point.
Title: Jacob’s Ladder
Author: Ludmila Ulitskaya
Translator: Polly Gannon
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publishing Date: 2019
No. of Pages: 542
Synopsis: One of Russia’s most renowned literary figures and a Man Booker International Prize nominee, Ludmila Ulitskaya presents what may be her final novel. Jacob’s Ladder is a family saga spanning a century of recent Russian history – and represents the summation of the author’s career devoted to sharing the absurd and tragic tales of twentieth-century life in her nation.
Alternating between the diaries and letters of Jacob Ossetsky in Kiev in the early 1900s and the experiences of his granddaughter Nora in the theatrical world of Moscow in the 1970s and beyond, Jacob’s Ladder guides the reader through some of the most turbulent times in the history of Russia and Ukraine, and draws suggestive parallels between historical events of the early twentieth century and those of more recent memory.
Spanning the seeming promise of the prerevolutionary years, to the dark Stalinist era, to the corruption and confusion of the present day, Jacob’s Ladder is a pageant of romance, betrayal, and memory. With a scale worthy of Tolstoy, it asks how much control any of us have over our lives—and how much is in fact determined by history, by chance, or indeed by the genes passed down by the generations that have preceded us into the world.
Title: Delta Wedding/The Ponder Heart
Author: Eudora Welty
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publishing Date: May 18, 2011
No. of Pages: 408
Synopsis: Eudora Welty’s first novel, Delta Wedding, is an American classic. Set in 1923, it is an exquisitely woven story centered around the Fairchild family’s preparations for a wedding at their Mississippi plantation. Drama leads to drama, revelation to revelation, ad the result is a sometimes riotous portrait of a large and clamorous Southern family. In The Ponder Heart, one of the few living members of a once prominent family, tells a traveling salesman the history of her family and fellow townsfolk.
Author: Mulk Raj Anand
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: July 3, 1990
No. of Pages: 157
Synopsis: ‘It recalled to me very vividly the occasions I have walked “the wrong way” in an Indian city, and it is a way down which no novelist has yet taken me…’
So wrote E.M. Forster in 1934, championing Mulk Raj Anand’s finest and most controversial novel. Here Anand conveys precisely, with urgency and barely disguised fury, what it feels to be one of India’s Untouchables. Bakha is a young man, a proud and even an attractive young man, but none the less he is an outcast in a system that is now only slowly changing and was then as cruel and debilitating as that of apartheid. Into this re-creation of one day in the life of Bakha, sweeper and latrine-cleaner, Anand poured a vitality, fire and richness of detail that have caused him to be acclaimed as his country’s Charles Dickens as well as this century’s greatest revealer of the ‘other’ India.
Author: Jessica Hagedorn
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1991
No. of Pages: 251
Synopsis: Welcome to Manila in the turbulent period of the Philippine’s late dictator. It is a world in which American pop culture and local Filipino tradition mix flamboyantly, and gossip, storytelling, and extravagant behavior thrive.
A wildly disparate group of characters—from movie stars to waiters, from a young junkie to the richest man in the Philippines—becomes caught up in a spiral of events culminating in a beauty pageant, a film festival, and an assassination. In the center of this maelstrom is Rio, a feisty schoolgirl who will grow up to lice in America and look back with longing on the land of her youth.
Title: King, Queen, Knave
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Translator: Dmitri Nabokov
Publisher: Vintage International
Publishing Date: February 16, 2011
No. of Pages: 272
Synopsis: ‘This novel is the story of Freyer, a wealthy and boisterous proprietor of a men’s clothing emporium, Ruddy, self-satisfied, and thoroughly masculine, he is perfectly repugnant to his exquisite but cold middle-class wife, Martha. Attracted to his money but repelled by his oblivious passion, she longs for their nephew instead, the thin, awkward, myopic Franz. Newly arrived in Berlin, Franz soon repays his uncle’s condescension in his aunt’s bed.
Author: Ramon Muzones
Translator: Ma. Cecilia Locsin-Nava
Publisher: Ateneo de Manila University Press
Publishing Date: 2012
No. of Pages: 220
Synopsis: Ramon L. Muzones claims his rightful place in the national literature of the Philippines with Cecilia Locsin-Nava’s English translation of Margosatubig, a Hiligaynon novel that was to re-write the history of the West Visayan fiction when it first appeared as a serial novel in 1946 in the pages of the popular magazine Yuhum. Muzones tells the story of a fictive Muslim state in Mindanao that loses its legitimate rulers through intrigue and treachery and how the hero-heir Salagunting leads the struggle to recover Margosatubig from the usurpers. Muzones shows himself a master of narrative invention in 30 installments that unfold a wealth of precolonial lore that blended romance, adventure, fantasy, subtle eroticism, and geographic information that so fascinated magazine readers and made Yuhum‘s weekly circulation jump from 2,500 to 37,000.
Dr. Nava’s is a wonder-work of an English translation, literate and literary, a rare, readable English version of a regional literary treasure. It is a lucid, unornamented rendition of the original Yuhum novel that manages quite effectively to suggest the delicious sensation of following the development, chapter by chapter, of the serialized popular novel. Through her labors, she has effectively secured for Muzones a position in the line-up for the title National Artist for Literature.