Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.
This week’s theme: Title Starting with a ‘P’
5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!
Title: The Plotters
Author: Un-Su Kim
Translator (from Korean): Sora Kim-Russell
Publishing Date: 2019
No. of Pages: 292
Synopsis: Behind every assassination, there is an anonymous mastermind, a plotter, working in the shadows. Plotters quietly dictate the moves of Seoul’s most dangerous criminals, but their existence is little more than legend. Just who are the plotters? And more important, what do they want?
Reseng is a seasoned assassin. Orphaned at birth and raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in the criminal headquarters “the library,” Reseng never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one but him ever read. But one day, a job goes wrong, toppling a set of carefully calibrated plans. And when he uncovers an extraordinary scheme set into motion by an eccentric trio of young women – a convenience store clerk, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed librarian – Reeng has to decide if he will remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.
Un-Su Kim has crafted a fiercely original and literary novel crackling with action, unforgettable characters, humor, and soul. But make no mistake, The Plotters is a top-notch thriller in which the gun is always loaded, the knife is always sharpened, and you should think twice about getting a cut and shave from someone called the Barber.
Title: Portnoy’s Complaint
Author: Philip Roth
Publisher: Random House
Publishing Date: 1969
No. of Pages: 274
Synopsis: Portnoy’s Complaint n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933-)] A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature. Spielvogel says: ‘Acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism and oral coitus are plentiful; as a consequence of the patient’s “morality,” however, neither fantasy nor act issues in genuine sexual gratification, but rather in overriding feelings of shame and the dread of retribution, particularly in the form of castration.’ (Spielvogel, O. ‘The Puzzled Penis’, Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse, Vol. XXIV, p. 909.) it is believed by Spielvogel that many of the symptoms can be traced to the bonds obtaining in the mother-child relationship.
Title: Poor People
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Translator: Hugh Aplin
Publisher: Hesperus Press Limited
Publishing Date: 2002
No. of Pages: 130
Synopsis: Written as a series of letters, Poor People tells the tragic tale of a petty clerk and his impossible love for a young girl. Longing to help her and change her plight, he sells everything he can, but his kindness leads him only into more desperate poverty, and ultimately into debauchery. As the object of his desire looks sadly and helplessly on, he – the typical ‘man of the underground’ – becomes more and more convinced of the belief that happiness can only be achieved with riches. Theirs is a troubled, frustrated love that can only lead to sorrow.
Poor People is Dostoevsky’s first original work. As both a masterpiece of Russian populist writing, and a parody of the entire genre, it is a profound and uneasy piece, with many glimpses of future genius.
Title: The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945
Author: Władysław Szpilman
Translator: Anthea Bell
Publishing Date: January 2003
No. of Pages: 222
Synopsis: On September 23, 1939, Władysław Szpilman played Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp Minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside – so loudly that he couldn’t hear his piano. It was the last live music broadcast from Warsaw: that day, a German bomb hit the station, and Polish Radio went off the air. Though he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. In the end, his life was saved by a German officer who heard him play the same Chopin nocturne on a piano found among the rubble. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is a stunning testament to astonishing human endurance and healing through compassion.
Title: Paris Nocturne
Author: Patrick Modiano
Translator: Phoebe Weston-Evans
Publisher: Yale Margellos
Publishing Date: 2015
No. of Pages: 148
Synopsis: This uneasy, compelling novel begins with a nighttime accident on the streets of Paris. The unnamed narrator, a teenage boy, is hit by a car whose driver he vaguely recalls having met before. The mysterious ensuing events, involving a police van, a dose of ether, awakening in a strange hospital, and the disappearance of the woman driver, culminate in a packet being pressed into the boy’s hand. It is an envelope stuffed full of bank notes. The confusion only depends as the characters grow increasingly apprehensive; meanwhile, readers are held spellbound. Modiano’s low-key writing style, his preoccupation with memory and its trustworthiness, and his deep concern with timeless moral questions have earned him an international audience of devoted readers. This beautifully rendered translation brings another of his finest works to an eagerly waiting English-language audience. Paris Nocturne has been named “a perfect book” by Liberation, while L’Express observes, “Paris Nocturne is cloaked in darkness, but it is a novel that is turned toward the light.”
Author: Abdulrazak Gurnah
Publishing Date: 2004
No. of Pages: 247
Synopsis: Born in East Africa, Yusuf has few qualms about the journey he is to make. It never occurs to him to ask why he is accompanying Uncle Aziz or why the trip has been organised so suddenly, and he does not think to ask when he will be returning. But the truth is that his ‘uncle’ is a rich and powerful merchant and Yusuf has been pawned to him to pay his father’s debts. Paradise is the story of Yusuf’s coming of age against the backdrop of an Africa of myth, dreams and Biblical and Koranic tradition, growing corrupt with violence and the influence of colonialism.