Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the risks that surround us. Things are starting to go back to normal although one should still throw caution in the air; the virus remains a threat. 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.
It is time for another WWW Wednesday update as it is a Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are 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?
For the ghost month, I am immersing myself in the works of Asian literature which is, by now, a staple of my annual literary journey. From one Nobel Laureate in Literature to another, I am currently reading Gao Xingjian’s Soul Mountain after completing Orhan Pamuk’s Silent House this evening. While the latter is my third by Pamuk, Soul Mountain is my first novel by the Chinese writer. Xingjian is also the first Chinese writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, earning the Swedish Committee’s nod back in 2000. Meanwhile, Soul Mountain is a book that has been gathering dust on my bookshelf for quite some time. It has been over five years since I obtained the book and I guess the time is right for me to delve into this novel. I have just covered two chapters but I can’t wait to see what the novel has in store. I will be sharing more of my impression in this week’s First Impression Friday update.
What have you finished reading?
Had it not been for the International Booker Prize, I would have not heard of Indian writer Geetanjali Shree. Her novel, Tomb of Sand was longlisted and eventually won the prize, a feat in itself as she went up against no less than Nobel Laureate in Literature and former winner Olga Tokarczuk. The Polish writer’s longlisted work, The Books of Jacob, was cited by the Swedish Committee as her magnum opus. I had the feeling that the two books would lock horns for the award. Anyway, I was ecstatic when I was able to obtain a copy of Shree’s fifth novel. Originally published in Hindi as Ret Samadhi (रेत समाधि) in 2018, the story revolves around the story of an eighty-year-old matriarch simply referred to as Ma. I found Ma perplexing, especially at the start, as we only study her through the insights of the people around her. And yes, there is a hijra named Rosie Bua who entered Ma’s life. Ma was joined by her daughter , independent-minded and progressive daughter Beti and a hijra named Rosie Bua. On the surface, there seemed a lot going on in the story but this belies the thin plot. Rather, the story relied on the chaos that was subtly masterminded by Ma. I did find it a bit challenging to read at first because of this chaos, coupled with Shree’s compunction for the descriptive. Nevertheless, it was an insightful and timely discourse about the plights of Indian women and, on a more universal level, the different borders that dictate our lives.
From India, my reading journey took me to a place that is slowly becoming familiar. Well, not really, since I can only name two Turkish writers whose works I have read before. One of those two was Nobel Laureate in Literature Orhan Pamuk (the other one being Elif Shafak), who I first encountered over six years ago while perusing the books being sold by an online bookseller. Six years later, I completed my third novel by Pamuk, Silent House. Originally published in 1983 in Turkish as Sessiz Ev, it is Pamuk’s second novel and charted the story of a Turkish family. It covered a week’s visit by three siblings to their grandmother’s house in Cennethisar, a small town near Istanbul. Fatma Hanim (also referred to as Buyukhanim) was old, already ninety years old, and was lonely and depressed. The only company she had in the titular Silent House was Recep, a dwarf. She had three grandchildren, Faruk, Metin, and Nilgun. Their grandfather Dr. Selahattin Bey abhorred politics, hence, his decision to move to the countryside. He was also a dreamer, a quality their son would inherit. The novel had a polyphonic voice, with the perspective shifting across five different characters. I was surprised I was able to catch on. Anyway, the novel had undertones of politics but it grappled with the modernization that was seizing Turkey. While I wouldn’t call it spectacular, Silent House did have its merits. I can’t wait to read more of Pamuk’s works.
What will you read next?
My journey across Asia will include Han Kang’s The White Book. This will be my third book by the International Booker Prize-winning South Korean writer. This book, I surmise, will provide a different dimension to Kang’s prose and storytelling. She already made me experience her brand of magical realism in The Vegetarian and her astuteness in historical fiction in Human Acts. Both books also examined human conditions deeply. I have surmised that it will prominently feature in her meditative book, The White Book. From South Korea, my journey will take me to Pakistan with a Booker Prize-shortlisted novel. Published in 2007, The Reluctant Fundamentalist was Mohsin Hamid’s second novel. This will be my first novel by the Pakistani writer. The third book I am looking forward to is Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters. Reading at least two works by Filipino writers, after, is part of my reading resolutions.
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!