Happy Tuesday everyone! It is the second day of the week already but I hope everyone is doing well and is safe. Tuesdays also mean one thing, a Top Ten Tuesday update! Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week’s given topic is Books on My Winter 2022-2023 To-Read List
Woah. Time flies so fast. It is now winter season. LOL. We don’t have that season here in the tropics though. HAHA. But it is my fervent wish to experience winter and snow at least once in my life. Maybe Iceland or Sapporo in the future? These are just two of the many places on my bucket list. Reading-wise, I have a lot lined up although I have been deliberately slowing down. First, the holiday season is the best time to spend more time with friends and family. Second, I have nearly completed the critical reading challenges I wanted to complete; I am currently reading Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, the last book on both my 2022 Top 22 Reading List and my 2022 Beat the Backlist Challenge. Nevertheless, here are the books I am looking forward to reading this winter season. Happy holidays and happy reading everyone!
Title: Young Mungo
Author: Douglas Stuart
Publisher: Grove Press
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 390
Synopsis: Douglas Stuart’s first novel, Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. Published or forthcoming in forty territories, it has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Now Stuart returns with Young Mungo, his extraordinary second novel. Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.
Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars – Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic – and they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when, several months later, Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murk pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, place where he and James might still have a future.
Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.
Title: At Night All Blood Is Black
Author: David Diop
Translator (from French): Anna Moschovakis
Publishing Date: 2020
No. of Pages: 145
Synopsis: Alfa Ndiaye is a Senegalese man fighting as a so-called Chocolat soldier with the French army in World War I. When his friend Mademba Diop is mortally wounded in battle, Mademb begs Alfa to kill him and spare him the pain of a long death in no-man’s land. But Alfa can’t bring himself to strike down a man who is like a brother to him, and Mademba dies in agony.
Faced with what he comes to see as his own cowardice and cruelty, Alfa beings to lose touch with reality. Anxious to avenge the death of his friend, he embarks on a series of nocturnal forays across enemy lines, with gruesome results. At first, Alfa’s comrades admire his ingenuity and daring, but rumors soon circulate that this super-soldier isn’t a hero but a sorcerer, a devourer of souls. Just how far will Alfa go to make amends to his dead friend?
Peppered with bullets and dark magic, this remarkable novel fills in a forgotten chapter in the history of World War I. Blending oral storytelling traditions with the day-to-day horror of life in the trenches, David Diop’s At Night ll Blood Is Black is a dazzling tale of a man’s descent into madness.
Title: The Sentence
Author: Louise Erdrich
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 381
Synopsis: Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, to the dead, to the reader, and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Soul’s Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading “with murderous attention,” must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.
The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.
Author: Jabari Asim
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: January 2022
No. of Pages: 255
Synopsis: The Water Dancer meets The Prophets in this spare, gripping, and beautifully rendered novel exploring love and friendship among a group of enslaved black strivers in the mid-nineteenth century.
They call themselves the stolen. Their owners call them captives. They are taught their captors’ tongues and their beliefs but they have a language and rituals all their own.
In a world that would be allegorical if it weren’t saturated in harsh truths, Cato and William meet at Placid Hall, a plantation in an unspecified part of the American South. Subject to the whims of their tyrannical and eccentric captor, Cannonball Greene, they never know what harm may befall them: inhumane physical toil in the plantation’s quarry by day, a beating by night, or the sale of a loved one at any moment. It’s a cruel practice – the wanton destruction of love, the belief that Black people aren’t even capable of loving – that hurts the most.
It hurts the reserved and stubborn William, who finds himself falling for Margaret, a small but mighty woman with self-possession beyond her years. And it hurts Cato, whose first love, Iris, was sold off with no forewarning. He now finds solace in his hearty band of friends, including William, who is like a brother to him; Margaret; Little Zander; and Milton, a gifted artist. There is also Pandora, with thick braids and long limbs, whose beauty calls to him.
Their relationships begin to fray when a visiting minister with a mysterious past starts to fill their heads with ideas about independence. He tells them that with freedom comes the right to choose the small things – when to dine, when to begin and end work – as well as the big things, such as whom and how to love. Do they follow the preacher and pursue the unknown? Confined in a landscape marked by deceit and uncertainty, whom can they trust?
In an elegant work of monumental imagination that will reorient how we think of the legacy of America’s shameful past, Jabari Asim presents a beautiful, powerful, and elegiac novel that examines intimacy and longing in the private quarters of the enslaved while asking a vital question: What would happen if an enslaved person risked everything for love?
Title: Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth
Author: Wole Soyinka
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 444
Synopsis: The first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature gives us a tour de force, his first novel in nearly half a century: a savagely satiric, gleefully irreverent, rollicking fictional meditation on how power and greed can corrupt the soul of a nation.
In an imaginary Nigeria, a cunning entrepreneur is selling body parts stolen from Dr. Menka’s hospital for use in ritualistic practices. Dr. Menka shares the grisly news with his oldest college friend, bon viveur, star engineer, and Yoruba royal, Duyole Pitan-Payne. The life of every party, Duyole is about to assume a prestigious post at the United Nations in New York, but it now seems that someone is determined that he not make it there. And neither Menka nor Duyole knows why, or how close the enemy is, or how powerful.
Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is at once a literary hoot, a crafty whodunit, and a scathing indictment of political and social corruption. It is a stirring call to arms against the abuse of power from one of our fiercest political activists, who also happens to be a global literary giant.
Title: Neruda on the Park
Author: Cleyvis Natera
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 319
Synopsis: The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.
As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar ark as the novel races toward a near-fatal climax.
A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition that announces Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most.
Author: Tara M. Stringfellow
Publisher: John Murray
Publishing Date: April 27, 2022
No. of Pages: 245
Synopsis: Joan was only a child the last time she visited Memphis. She doesn’t remember the bustle of Beale Street on a summer’s night. She doesn’t know she’s as likely to hear a gunshot ring out as the sound of children playing. How the smell of honeysuckle is almost overwhelming as she climbs the porch steps to the house where her mother grew up. But when the front door opens, she does remember Derek.
This house full of history is home to the women of the North family. They are no strangers to adversity; resilience runs in their blood. Fifty years ago, Hazel’s husband was lynched by his all-white police squad, yet she made a life for herself and her daughters in the majestic house he built for them. August lives there still, running a salon where the neighbourhood women gather. And now this house is the only place Joan has left. It is in sketching portraits of the women in her life, her aunt and her mother, the women who come to have their hair done, the women who come to chat and gossip, that Joan begins laughing again, begins living.
Memphis is a celebration of the enduring strength of female bonds, of what we pass down, from mother to daughter. Epic in scope yet intimate in detail, it is a vivid portrait of three generations of a Southern black family, as well as an ode to the city they call home.
Author: Eloghosa Osundae
Publishing Date: March 1, 2022
No. of Pages: 303
Synopsis: In Nigeria, vagabonds are those whose existence is literally outlawed: the queer, the poor, the displaced, the footloose and rogue spirits. They inhabit transient spaces, making their way invisibly through a world of old vengeance, shifting realities, and ever-lurking danger. Eloghosa Osunde’s brave, fiercely inventive novel traces a wild array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance: a driver for a debauched politician with the power to command life and death; a legendary fashion designer who gives birth to a grown daughter; a lesbian couple whose tender relationship sheds unexpected light on their experience with underground sex work; a wife and mother who attends a secret spiritual gathering that shifts her world. Whether running from danger, meeting with secret lovers, finding their identities, or vanquishing their shadowselves, Osunde’s characters confront and support one another, before converging for the once-in-a-lifetime gathering that gives the book its unexpectedly joyous conclusion.
Title: Demon Copperfield
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Publisher: Harper Books
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 546
Synopsis: Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenage single mother, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. In transposing his epic novel to her own place and time, Kingsolver has enlisted his anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative power of a good story. Demon Copperfield speaks for a generation of lost boys, and for all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.
Title: The Last Chairlift
Author: John Irving
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 2022
No. of Pages: 889
Synopsis: In Aspen, Colorado, in 1941, Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships. Unremembered in the competition, Little Ray, as she is called, finishes “nowhere near the podium,” but she manages to get pregnant. Back home, in New England, Ray becomes a ski instructor. Her son, Adam, grows up in a family that defies conventions and evades questions concerning the eventful past. Years later, looking for answers, Adam will go to Aspen. In the Hotel Jerome, where he was conceived, Adam will meet some ghosts; in The Lst Chairlift, they aren’t the only ghosts he sees.
If you’ve never read a John Irving novel, you’ll be captivated by storytelling that is tragic and comic, embodied by characters you’ll remember long after you’ve finished their story. If you have read John Irving before, you’ll rediscover the themes that made him a bard of alternative families – a visionary voice on the subject of sexual freedom. The author’s favorite tropes are here, but this meticulously plotted novel has powerful twists in store for readers. The Last Chairlift breaks new artistic ground for John Irving, who has been called “among the very best storytellers at work today” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), “the American Balzac” (The Nation), “a pop star of literature, beloved by all generations” (Suddeutsche Zeitung, Munich), and “the unsurpassed master of whirling plots, unforgettable characters and sharp satire” (NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam). With The Last Chairlift, readers will once again be in John Irving’s thrall.