Happy Wednesday everyone! We’re in the final stretch of the year. I can’t believe that in a matter of weeks we will be welcoming a new year. While the future holds a lot of uncertainties, it also beacons with hope; hope, after all, springs eternal. But as the year slowly draws to a close, I hope that 2022 is being kind to everyone. I hope that you get repaid for all your hard work this year. I hope that all your prayers have been answered or that you have reached a level of peace. More importantly, I hope that you are all doing well, in body, mind, and spirit. Let’s rock the rest of the 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:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What have you finished reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

And the usual holiday rush. As the previous years have shown, I usually scramble toward the end of the year, cramming as I try to complete all my reading challenges. The past three months have been dedicated mainly for this. However, since it seems that I am going to hit my main targets, I have eased up a little bit. For now, I am reading Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel, Sea of Tranquility. This is aligned with my goal of reading at least 15 new books. If my tally is correct, this is just the 11th new book I read this year, which is way behind my 2021 tally. Nevertheless, I will try to read as many new books as I can before the year ends; I have Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo lined up as well. Anyway, Sea of Tranquility is my second novel by the Canadian writer and was a book I was not planning to read since I was not totally impressed with The Glass Hotel. However, I was convinced by fellow book readers to try her other works, particularly her works of dystopian fiction, to which her latest novel is a part of. So far, the experience is better compared to my first. However, the timeline again is a little mind boggling as it leapfrogs further into the future without completing the plot. I do somehow feel like Mandel is pulling off a Cloud Atlas, at least where the structure is concerned. Maybe. I can’t wait to see how she steers the narrative.

What have you finished reading

The past week has been busy, reading-wise. For the first time in a while, I have completed reading three books. I guess my drive to complete my reading challenges is giving me some sort of adrenaline rush. The first of the three books I managed to complete was Nobel Laureate in Literature Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio’s Wandering Star. It was my 92nd read for the year, tying my tally last year. This is also my first novel by the French writer. I was looking forward to his prose that I listed it as part of my 2022 Top 22 Reading List, ahead of other books that have long been gathering dust on my bookshelf.

Originally published in French in 1992 as Étoile errante, the novel charted the story of two young girls. The first one is Esther, a Jewish French who was barely able to escape the onslaught of the German Nazis during the Second World War. By now, this has become a very familiar environment although I am always willing to make concessions because I have learned that every story and every voice must be told and be heard. Unfortunately, Esther’s father was not able to survive the war but she and her mother were able to. After the war ended, she and her mother travelled to Jerusalem, encountering some challenges along the way. It was at this juncture that her story was cut short as the perspective shifted to the second primary character of the story, Nejma, a Palestinian. We read about her experiences in a refugee camp. Her story was captured along with the infancy of the newly established Israeli state. The novel had bright spots but I felt like the two strands never quite come full circle.

From one Nobel Laureate in Literature to another. Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, or more popularly known with his abbreviated penname V.S. Naipaul, has long been part of my list of writers whose works I wanted to read. I kept encountering him and his works in must-read lists. Some of his works were even listed among the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Unfortunately, it has been a struggle obtaining the works of the late writer. My fortune changed last year when I was able to obtain a copy of A Bend in the River. With my anticipation for his prose building up, I added the book to my 2022 Top 22 Reading List.

The novel transported me to mid-20th century Africa which caught me a little off guard. I  knew that Naipaul was British but was born in Trinidad and Tobago and had an Indian heritage. Oh well, Maryse Condé’s Segu should have been a precursor. Anyway, Naipaul’s novel was related primarily through the point of view of Salim, a merchant of Arab heritage who grew up in a community of ethnically Indian Muslims in an unnamed country on the east African coast. With the political shifts occurring everywhere on the African coast, Salim deemed it prudent to move to the African interior. It was around this time that a family friend, Nazruddin, returned to the coast after spending years in the interior. Nazruddin offered Salim his trading goods shop located in a former colonial town located at the titular bend in a major river. I liked the novel for it examined the heritages of colonialism in Africa and how it has altered the history of the continent. Strife, unfortunately, has ensued following the withdrawal of the colonizers. This was captured in the novel.

The last book I completed in the past week was Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour. Unlike the above three writers, Heti was a name I have never encountered previously. However, as I was browsing for books to include in my 2022 Top 10 Books I Look Forward to List, her lates novel, Pure Colour immediately piqued my interest. Besides, it has been listed by similar most anticipated 2022 releases. It wasn’t rocket science: I also had to add the book to my own most anticipated 2022 releases list. I thought that I would not be able to obtain a copy of the book before the year ended. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a copy of the book, making it the eighth book from the said list; unfortunately, I am having trouble obtaining the last two books on the list.

Anyway, at the heart of Pure Colour was Mira who we first meet when she was still in college. There was no time frame nor was the location specified. Neither mattered to me though. It was in college that she meet Annie who would become her special friend. The novel really had no robust plot to speak of. It was also not a character-centric story. It also lacked dialogue. So what was it then? What came across was an abstract story related through episodes seminal in the primary character’s life. It had a philosophical quality to it, with religion and God being the centerpiece of these philosophical musings. These musings covered a plethora of subjects ranging from grief to death to art. Yes, it had some implied sapphic elements. I liked the writing but I am not sure about the story.

After Sea of Tranquility, I am planning to read Nobel Laureate in Literature Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace Walk. It was in 2015 that I first encountered the Egyptian writer. I simply obtained copies of his works (Miramar and Palace of Desire) I randomly came across through an online bookseller. I had no iota about who he was nor have I read any of his works previously. A quick search on the world wide web yielded that he was the first Arabian writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I liked Miramar although it was short. Meanwhile, I had to put off reading Palace of Desire as it was the second book in the Cairo Trilogy. Thankfully, I was able to complete the trilogy last year, prompting me to add the first book in the trilogy, Palace Walk, to my 2022 Beat the Backlist Challenge. The Cairo Trilogy is Mahfouz’s most renowned work, often considered his best.

To finally close up my two of my reading challenges, I am finally lining up Vikram Seth’s gargantuan book, A Suitable Boy. Like some of the books on this list, I had no iota of who Seth was nor have I read any of the Indian writer’s works previously. However, I kept encountering his novel A Suitable Boy on must-read lists. It was even listed as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Reading Before You Die. It was a no-brainer. I have to read the book. For the longest time – I acquired my copy of the book back in 2018 – I wanted to read the book. However, I am daunted by its length which is ironic because I am rarely challenged by a book’s length. Anyway, I have finally mustered the courage to read this novel. I can’t wait to see what it has in store.

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!