Wah! We’re already down eight months into 2022. Time does fly fast. It feels like a lot has happened in the first eight months of the year but, at the same, it feels like nothing significant has transpired. Nevertheless, I hope the year has been kind to you. I hope that the last four months of the year will be filled with nothing but blessings. I hope everything you worked hard for from the start of the year will go back to you a hundredfold. More importantly, I hope everyone stays healthy in body, mind, and spirit. While clarity is already looming over the horizon, we can’t still afford to be complacent. Before welcoming this new month, let me look back at the previous month. In August, I traveled across the vast Asian continent, immersing myself in the best works of the region. During the month, I also obtained a couple of books that I have listed in this book haul update. Without further ado, here are the books I was able to acquire in August. Happy reading!

Title: TRUST
Author: Hernan Diaz
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 402

Synopsis: Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the top of a world of seemingly boundless wealth. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this story.

Hernan Diaz’s TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another – and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.

Provocative and propulsive, Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the myths shrouding wealth, the fictions that often pass for history, and the deceptions that can live at the heart of personal relationships.

Title: Glory
Author: NoViolet Bulawayo
Publisher: Viking
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 400

Synopsis: Glory follows the fall of the Old Horse, the long-serving leader of a fictional country, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals. Inspired by the unexpected ouster by coup in November 2017 of Robert G. Mugabe, ZImbabwe’s president for nearly four decades, Glory shows a country’s imploding, narrated by a chorus of animal voices that unveil the ruthlessness required to uphold the illusion of absolute power and the imagination to overthrow it completely.

By immersing readers in the lives of a population in upheaval, NoViolet Bulawayo reveals the dazzling life force and irrepressible wilt that lie barely concealed beneath the surface of seemingly bleak circumstances. At the center of this is Destiny, who returns to Jidada from exile to witness revolution – and to recount the unofficial history of the females who have quietly pulled the strings in this country.

Glory was written in a time of global clamor, with resistance movements across the world challenging different forms of oppression. Here Bulawayo has crystallized a turning point in history with the texture and nuance that only the greatest fiction can.

Title: A Horse Walks Into A Bar
Author: David Grossman
Translator (from Hebrew): Jessica Cohen
Publisher: Vintage
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 198

Synopsis: A comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience has come expecting an evening of amusement. Instead they see a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic, charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.

Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dov provokes revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry – and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he’s been summoned to this performance.

Title: Summer Light, and then Comes the Night
Author: Jón Kalman Stefánsson
Translator (from Icelandic): Philip Roughton
Publisher: HarperVia
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 246

Synopsis: A profound and playful masterwork of literature from one of Iceland’s most beloved authors.

In a secluded Icelandic village of only four hundred inhabitants, where the summer brings infinite light and the winter brings eternal night, life appears unremarkable. Yet, sometimes in small places, life becomes bigger. A new road to the capital city of Reykjavik has change on everyone’s minds…

There is the beautiful, elusive Elisabet, who cuts a surprisingly svelte path at the Knitting Company. Neighbours Kristin and Kjartan, who seem ordinary but for their explosive passion that bewilders even themselves (and ignites the spectacular revenge of Kjartan’s wife). Timid Jonas takes on the role of town policeman when his imposing father passes away. And then the most successful businessman in town abandons his Range Rover and gorgeous wife in exchange for Latin books and stargazing.

Winner of the Icelandic Literature Prize and longlisted for France’s Prix Médicis étranger, Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night ponders the beauty and mystery of life and our deepest existential questions. Unexpected, warm, earthy, and humorous, Stefánsson explores the dreams and desires of these everyday people and reveals the magic of life in all its progress, its limitations, its ugliness, and, ultimately, its beauty.

Title: The Woman from Uruguay
Author: Pedro Mairal
Translator (from Spanish): Jennifer Croft
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 152

Synopsis: From acclaimed Argentine author Pedro Mairal and Man Booker International-winning translator Jennifer Croft, the unforgettable story of two would-be lovers over the course of a single day.

Lucas Pereyra, an unemployed writer in his forties, embarks on a day trip from Buenos Aires to Montevideo to pick up fifteen thousand dollars in cash. An advance due to him on his upcoming novel, the small fortune might mean the solution to his problems, most importantly the tension he has with his wife. While she spends her days at work and her nights out on the town – with a lover, perhaps, he doesn’t know for sure-Lucas is stuck at home all day staring at the blank page, caring for his son Maiko and fantasizing about the one thing that keeps him going: the woman from Uruguay whom he met at a conference and has been longing to see ever since.

But that woman, Magalí Guerra Zabala, is a free spirit with her own relationship troubles, and the day they spend together in this beautiful city on the beach winds up being nothing like Lucas predicted.

The constantly surprising, moving story of this dramatically transformative day in their lives, The Woman from Uruguay is both a gripping narrative and a tender, thought-provoking exploration of the nature of relationships. An international bestseller published in fourteen countries, it is the masterpiece of one of the most original voices in Latin American literature today.

Title: The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die
Author: Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay
Translator (from Bengali): Arunava Sinha
Publisher: HarperVia
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 146

Synopsis: A funny, tug-at-your-heartstrings tale of love, family, and freedom centered around three generations of Bengali women.

Somlata has just married into the dynastic but declining Mitra family. Only eighteen, she expects to settle into her role as a devout wife in this traditionally multigenerational family until she stumbles into the body of her great aunt-in-law Pishima while wandering the halls of the grand, decaying Mitra mansion.

Pishima has finally passed away at the ripe old age of seventy. But she isn’t letting go just yet. A child bride widowed at age twelve, Pishima has harbored a grudge against the Mitras for ever allowing her to fall in love. Now, her ghost intends to meddle in their lives by making as much mischief as possible.

Boshon is a book-loving, scooter-riding, rebellious teenager who wants nothing to do with the many suitors who ask for her hand. She yearns for freedom and wants to go to college. But when her poor neighbor returns from America, she finds herself falling in love. Perhaps Pishima’s yearning spirit lives on in her heart?

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is a fast-paced, funny, and fresh novel about three generations of the Mitra family who are surprising at every turn and defy all expectations.

Title: My Brillian Life
Author: Ae-ran Kim
Translator (from Korean): Chi-Young Kim
Publisher: Forge
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 203

Synopsis: My Brilliant Life explores family bonds and out-f-the-ordinary friendships, interweaving the past and present of a tight-knit family, finding joy and happiness in even the most difficult times.

Areum vicariously lives life to its fullest through the stories of his parents, conversations with Little Grandpa Jang – his sixty-year-old neighbor and best friend – and the books he reads to visit the places he would otherwise never see.

For several months, Areum has been working on a manuscript, piecing together his parents’ often embellished stories about his family and childhood. He hopes to preset it on his birthday, as a final gift to his mom and dad: their own falling-in-love story.

Through it all, Areum and his family will have you laughing and crying for all the right reasons.

Title: Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming
Author: László Krasznahorkai
Translator (from Hungarian): Ottilie Mulzet
Publisher: Tuskar Rock Press
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 558

Synopsis: Nearing the end of his life, Baron Bela Wenckheim flees his gambling debts in Buenos Aires and decides to return to the small Hungarian town where he wishes to be reunited with his high-school sweetheart. News of his arrival travel fast, and the town’s conmen and politicians sense a rare opportunity.

Title: Autumn
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
Translator (from Norwegian): Ingvild Burkey
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publishing Date: 2017
No. of Pages: 224

Synopsis: I want to show you our world as it is now: the door, the floor, the water tap and the sink, the garden chair close to the wall beneath the kitchen window, the sun, the water, the trees. You will come to see it in your own way, you will experience things for yourself and live a life of your own, so of course it is primarily for my own sake that I am doing this: showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living.

Autumn begins with a letter Karl Ove Knausgaard writes to his unborn daughter, showing her what to expect of the world. He writes one short piece per day, describing the material and natural world with the precision and mesmerizing intensity that have become his trademark. This tender and deeply personal book is beautifully illustrated by Vanessa Baird, and she is the first of four volumes marveling at the vast, unknowable universe around us.

Title: Winter
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
Translator (from Norwegian): Ingvild Burkey
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 254

Synopsis: It is strange that you exist, but that you don’t know anything about what the world looks like. It’s strange that there is a first time to see the sky, a first time to see the sun, a first time to feel the air against one’s skin. It’s strange that there is a first time to see a face, a tree, a lamp, pajamas, a shoe, In my life it almost never happens anymore. But soon it will. In just a few months, I will see you for the first time.

In Winter, we rejoin the great Karl Ove Knausgaard as he waits for the birth of his daughter. In preparation for her arrival, he takes stock of the world, seeing it as if for the first time. In his inimitably sensitive style, he writes about the moon, water, messiness, owls, birthdays – to name just a handful of his subjects. These oh-so-familiar objects and ideas he fills with new meaning, taking nothing for granted or as given. New life is on the horizon, but the earth is also in hibernation, waiting for the warmer weather to return, and so a contradictory melancholy inflects his gaze.

Startling, compassionate, and exquisitely beautiful, Knausgaard’s writing is like nothing else. Somehow, he shows the world as it really is, at once mundane and sublime. 

Title: Spring
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
Translator (from Norwegian): Ingvild Burkey
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 182

Synopsis: You don’t know what air is, yet you breathe. You don’t know what sleep is, yet you sleep. You don’t know what night is yet you lie in it. You don’t know what a heart is, yet your own heart beats steadily in your chest, day and night, day and night, day and night.

So begins Spring, the recommencement of Knausgaard’s fantastic and spellbinding literary project of assembling a personal encyclopedia of the world addressed directly to his newly born daughter. But there Knausgaard must also tell his daughter the story of what happened during the time when her mother was pregnant, and explain why he now has to attend appointments with child services. In order to keep his daughter safe, he must tell a terrible story, one which unfolds with acute psychological suspense over the course of a single day. 

Utterly gripping and brilliantly rendered in Knausgaard’s famously sensitive, pensive, and honest style, Spring is the account of a shocking and heartbreaking familial trauma and the emotional epicenter of this singular literary series.

Title: Summer
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
Translator (from Norwegian): Ingvild Burkey
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publishing Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 401

Synopsis: It is completely dark out now. It is twenty-three minutes to midnight and you have already slept for four hours. What you will dream of tonight, no one will ever know. Even if you were to remember it when you wake up, you wouldn’t have a language in which to communicate it to us, nor do I think that you quite understand what dreams are, I think that is still undefined for you, your thoughts haven’t grasped the concept yet, and it therefore lies within that strange zone where it neighter exists nor doesn’t exist.

The conclusion to one of the most extraordinary and original literary projects in recent years, Summer once again intersperses short vividly descriptive essays with emotionally-raw diary entries addressed directly to Knausgaard’s newborn daughter. Writing more expansively and, if it is possible, even more intimately and unguardedly than in the previous three volumes, he mines with new depth his difficult memories of his childhood and fraught relationship with his own father. Documenting his family’s life in rural Sweden and reflecting on a characteristically eclectic array of subjects–mosquitoes, barbeques, cynicism, and skin, to name just a few–he braids the various threads of the previous volumes into a moving conclusion.

At his most voluminous since My Struggle, his epic sensational series, Knausgaard writes for his daughter, striving to make ready and give meaning to a world at once indifferent and achingly beautiful. In his hands, the overwhelming joys and insoluble pains of family and parenthood come alive with uncommon feeling.