Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope your week is going great. Otherwise, I hope that it will start looking up in the coming days. It is my fervent hope that it will usher in positive energy, blessings, healing, and forgiveness for everyone. As it is Tuesday, it is also time for a Top 5 Tuesday update. Top 5 Tuesday was originally created by Shanah @ the Bionic Bookworm but is now currently being hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic: Top Five Covers of 2022

It really is sinking in, that the year is about to draw to a close. Publications and literary pundits have been sharing their best books of 2022. I have been perusing these lists myself to check what 2022 books I missed out on. I did actually start acquiring some of them, like Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperfield and Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. The book blogosphere has also proliferated with several reading wrap-up subjects. In last week’s Top 5 Tuesday update, I shared my best 2022 book cov ers. This time around, I am featuring writers, new-to-me, who left a deep impression on me this year. So far, I have completed reading 100 books written by 97 different writers. Of these 97 writers, 51 were writers whose works I am reading for the first time. That’s quite a lot! There were some that disappointed me but there were several who left me in awe. Without more ado, here are some of them.

Author: Aleksandar Tišma (Serbian Cyrillic: Александар Тишма; January 16, 1924, to February 15, 2003)
Nationality: Serbian
Books Read This Year: The Use of Man
Books I Am Looking Forward To: The Book of BlamKapo

In early 2020, I acquired a copy of The Use of Man through an online bookseller. It was an impulse buy because I have not heard of nor encountered any of the works of Aleksandar Tišma, who I later on learned was Serbian. Nevertheless, I obtained a copy of the book sans any iota about what it was about. I cannot resist the call of my inner curious cat. Sadly, I would forget about the book, and had I not encountered another work of Tišma during one of my visits to the bookstore (Kapo), I might have buried the book deep in the recesses of my mind. To redress this, I made The Use of Man part of my 2022 European Literature month. The book transported me to the Balkans immediately before, during, and after the Second World War. The novel and its unflinching gaze captured the horrors of war. While the Serbian writer provided very little reprieve from the nightmarish landscape, his honest storytelling captured the war as it should be captured; human bonds are volatile and heroes are nowhere to be found. The Use of Man was not just another novel about the war. This pleasant experience made me look forward to reading Tišma’s other works.

Author: Tan Twan Eng (Chinese: 陳團英; born 1972)
Nationality: Malaysian
Books Read This Year: The Garden of the Evening Mists
Books I Am Looking Forward To: The Gift of Rain

It was a real-life friend that introduced me to the wonders of Tan Twan Eng’s prose. My friend, who back then visited Malaysia, gave a very glowing account of Tan’s debut novel, The Gift of Rain. I have since been hoping to encounter a copy of the book. Unfortunately, I never got the chance. However, I would encounter Tan a couple of years later. I saw a copy of his other novel, The Garden of Evening Mists. Without any more ado, I purchased the book and even made it part of my 2022 Top 22 Reading List. I was really looking forward to the book. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. Like Tišma in The Use of Man, the focal point of the story was the Second World War, but now in the Malaysian peninsula. The intersection of history, memory and the vast spectrum of humanity made The Garden of Evening Mists a potent and memorable work of contemporary fiction, a triumph of storytelling. It was a stellar book worthy of the accolades it earned, consolidating Tan’s status as one of the contemporary’s promising literary voices.

Author: Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust, more known as Marcel Proust (July 10, 1871, to November 18, 1922)
Nationality: French
Books Read This Year: Swann’s Way
Books I Am Looking Forward To: The rest of In Search of Lost Time

Like in the case of Aleksandar Tišma and The Use of Man, it was through an online bookseller that I first encountered Marcel Proust and Swann’s Way. Despite having no iota about what the book was or who Proust was, I purchased the book. This was back in 2015. So what took me this look before I started reading the book? When I purchased it, I didn’t know that it was just the first volume in a monumental novel comprised of seven volumes. I then had to push back on my plans to read the book as I resolved to complete all volumes first. In 2020, I was able to obtain six of the seven books so I deemed it the right time to start reading the novel. Swann’s Way, as expected was complex. But it was also beautifully written. In the first volume of his popular novel, Proust was slowly laying out the landscape, making the readers accustomed to his prose and to the vast and eclectic set of characters that I assume will populate the entire novel. I can’t wait to complete reading all seven volumes.

Author: Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, more known for his abbreviated name V.S. Naipaul (August 17, 1932, to August 11, 2018)
Nationality: British, Trinidadian
Books Read This Year: A Bend in the River
Books I Am Looking Forward To: A House for Mr. Biswas, In A Free State

For the longest time, I have set my eyes on the works of Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul. The Nobel Laureate in Literature and his works were mainstays in must-read lists, including the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. It was through these lists that I first came across the Booker Prize-winning writer. However, obtaining a copy of his works proved to be a challenge. It was until 2021 that I was able to obtain one of them. With my anticipation building, I added A Bend in the River to my 2022 Top 22 Reading List. I had a lot of expectations for the book as well. This is V.S. Naipaul we are talking about! Gladly, the book did not disappoint. It being a work of historical fiction was already a nod its way. But more importantly, I was in awe of how Naipaul captured the spirit of the period when the call for independence from colonizers was gathering steam across Africa. Naipaul was simply resplendent and his storytelling kept me at the edge of my sit from the onset.

Author: Abdulrazak Gurnah FRSL (born December 20, 1948)
Nationality: Tanzanian
Books Read This Year: After Lives
Books I Am Looking Forward To: Paradise, The Last Gift

I guess I wasn’t the only one who was surprised when the relatively unknown Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Tanzanian writer’s works were unfamiliar to many. Nevertheless, I took it as an opportunity to explore a new literary world. Thankfully, following his Nobel win, his works were republished and I was immediately able to obtain two of them. I was hoping to read them as the year moves forward but I never got the chance. A new opportunity came along as I encountered Afterlives. I actually thought the novel was new, i.e. published this year. Besides, it has been cited by a popular publication as one of the best books of the year. I would learn it was published in 2020. Nevertheless, I let myself be consumed by the book which transported me to East Africa in the period prior to the First World War. When Gurnah was awarded the Nobel, what was often lauded was his examination of the legacy of colonization in his region, and, by extension, to Africa. This was palpable in Afterlives, a book, while not entirely perfect, that left me yearning for more of the Tanzanian writer’s prose.

Here are other writers who captured my interest during the year.