Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners but is now currently being hosted by Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog. This meme is quite easy to follow – just randomly pick a book from your to-be-read list and give the reasons why you want to read it. It is that simple.
This week’s book:
Shira by Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Blurb from Goodreads
Manfred Herbst, a middle-aged professor at the Hebrew University, is bored. He is bored with his studies, with the petty squabbles of his academic colleagues, and with his endlessly understanding wife, Henrietta. He spends his days – and often his nights – prowling the streets and alleys of Jerusalem searching for Shira, the beguiling nurse he met at a hospital years ago. Against the backdrop of 1930s Jerusalem – a world on the brink of war – Herbst wages his own war against the encroachment of age as he plunges deeper into fantasies sparked by the free-spirited Shira. Shira, the last novel of Hebrew writer and 1966 Nobel Laureate S.Y. Agnon, was unfinished at the time of his death in 1970. Agnon wrote two very different endings for this novel, both of which are included here, along with an afterword by Robert Alter.
Why I Want To Read It
Happy first day of the week everyone! Today is a national holiday in the Philippines as we commemorate National Heroes Day. Today also happens to be the last Monday of August. In a couple of days, we will be welcoming the ninth month of the year. It’s ber months already! The start of September also marks the commencement of the Philippines’ long Christmas season tradition. Malls and radios will start playing Christmas songs. Christmas shops will be doubling their production. Everyone will start wiping the dust off of their decorations. Anyway, I hope that you are all doing well and are in a good state of health, both in your mind and body. I hope that all that we’ve worked hard for during the year will be repaid. However, my fervent wish is for COVID-19 and monkeypox to be contained. With this, I implore everyone to be diligent in observing minimum health protocols.
I also hope that the rest of the year will be filled with nothing but blessings. I hope that you get repaid a hundredfold for your hard work. I hope that all your prayers are answered. To kickstart the blogging week, I am posting a new Goodreads Monday update. In August, I embarked on a journey across the Asian continent with a selection of Asian literary works. Asian literature is as vast as the continent, and as diverse as well. As such, there are parts of Asian literature I have barely ventured to. I am currently reading Fury, my ninth novel by popular but equally controversial writer Salman Rushdie. It was dreadful what happened to him recently. I hope he is recovering well. Anyway, to align with this month’s theme, I have been featuring works of Asian literature in my Goodreads Monday updates. For this week, I am featuring Israeli writer Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s Shira.
Upon checking my list, it seems that I have, so far, read only one work by an Israeli writer, Ilana Masad’s All My Mother’s Lovers. The only other Israeli writers I can name are Amos Oz for I have a copy of one of his books; and David Grossman, who I first encountered earlier this year as his latest work was nominated for the 2022 International Booker Prize. It was my lack of venture into works of Israeli/Hebrew literature that drove me to research more about its most renowned works. I have listed some of them in this week’s 5 On My TBR update. Interestingly, Shmuel Yosef Agnon was not one of the writers featured on the list for it was late when I checked if there were any Israeli writers who have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. There was, it seems.
Shmuel Yosef Agnon, or shortly S.Y. Agnon, is the only Israeli writer to win the prestigious prize. He was born in Buczacz, Eastern Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Buchach, Ukraine) before he settled down in Palestine in 1907. He descended from a family of Polish Jewish merchants, rabbis, and scholars. Oh, it seems that S.Y. Agnon is a pseudonym for he was born Shmuel Yosef Halevi Czaczkes. His first major work was Hakhnasat kalah, 2 vol. (1919; The Bridal Canopy). I originally planned to feature the book for this week’s Goodreads Monday update but in the end, I chose Shira, which was his last novel; I have still added The Bridal Canopy to my growing reading list. From the synopsis, the novel transports the readers to 1930s Jerusalem, a seminal period in the city’s history.
Over at Goodreads, it seems that not many readers have rated his works. I don’t think I have seen one that had at least 500 ratings. Shira, for instance, was rated just 101 times. Is it because he thrived during the 20th century or is it because his works are not available to most of the world? I hope my hunch isn’t right for I would be more than glad to obtain at least one of his works. How about you fellow reader? Are there works of Iranian/Persian literature you want to recommend? Do drop it in the comment box. For now, happy Monday and, as always, happy reading!