Happy Tuesday everyone! As it is Tuesday, it is time for a Top Ten Tuesday update of 2023. 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 Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023
As has been customary, the start of the year is about goal setting. A part of this tradition is sharing current year releases that I am looking forward to. I personally like this as it allows me to discover writers whose prose I have not discovered previously. However, as I have already shared my 2023 most anticipated books, I have deviated from this week’s topic. Instead, I am doing a backlist. I am sharing ten books written by Nobel Laureates in Literature I am looking forward to. As I have mentioned, the possibility of me hosting a Nobel Prize in Literature reading month this year is within the realms of possibility. Without more ado, here are books that can possibly be part of this reading journey. Happy reading!
Title: Raised from the Ground
Author: Jose Saramago
Translator: Margaret Jull Costa
Publishing Date: 2013
No. of Pages: 387
This early work is deeply personal and Jose Saramago’s most autobiographical, following the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family – poor, landless peasants not unlike the author’s own grandparents. Saramago charts the family’s lives in Alentejo, southern Portugal, as national and international events rumble on in the background – the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars and an attempt on the dictator Salazar’s life. Yet nothing really impinges on the farm labourer’s lives until the first strings of communism.
Title: Red Sorghum
Author: Mo Yan
Translator: Howard Goldblatt
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1993
No. of Pages: 359
Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty, as the Chinese battle both Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.
A legend in China, where it won major literary awards and inspired an Oscar-nominated film, Red Sorghum is a book in which fable and history collide to produce fiction that is entirely new – and unforgettable.
Title: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
Author: Mario Vargas Llosa
Translator: Helen R. Lane
Publishing Date: October 2007
No. of Pages: 374
Mario Vargas Llosa’s masterful, multilayered novel is set in the Lima, Peru, of the author’s youth, where a young student named Marito is toiling away in the news department of a local radio station. His young life is disrupted by two arrivals.
The first is his aunt Julia, recently divorced and thirteen years older, with whom he begins a secret affair. The second is a manic radio scriptwriter named Pedro Camacho, whose racy, vituperative soap operas are holding the city’s listeners in thrall. Pedro chooses young Marito to be his confidant as he slowly goes insane.
Interweaving the story of Marito’s life with the ever-more-fevered tales of Pedro Camacho, Vargas Llosa’s novel is hilarious, mischievous, and masterful, a classic named one of the books of the year by The New York Times Book Review.
Title: The Black Notebook
Author: Patrick Modiano
Translator (from French): Mark Polizzotti
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 131
Paris in the 1960s was a city rife with suspicion and barely suppressed violence. Amid this tension, Jean, a young writer adrift, met and fell for Dannie, an enigmatic woman fleeing a troubled past. A half century later, with his old black notebook as a guide, he retraces this fateful period in his life, recounting how, through Dannie, he became mixed up with a group of unsavory characters connected by a shadowy crime. Soon Jean, too, was a person of interest to the detective pursing their case – a detective who would finally provide the key to Dannie’s darkest secret.
The Black Notebook bears all the hallmarks of this literary master’s unsettling and intensely atmospheric style. Patric Modiano invites us into his unique world, a Paris infused with melancholy, uncertain danger, and the fading echoes of lost love.
Title: Elizabeth Costello
Author: J.M. Coetzee
Publishing Date: 2003
No. of Pages: 230
In 1982, J.M. Coetzee dazzled the literary world with his novel Waiting for the Barbarians. Five novels and two Booker Prizes later, Coetzee is a writer of international stature. Now, in his first work of fiction since the New York Times bestselling Disgrace, he has crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale.
Elizabeth Costello is a distinguished and aging Australian novelist whose life is revealed through an ingenious series of eight formal addresses. From an award-acceptance speech at a New England liberal arts college to a lecture on evil in Amsterdam and a sexually charged reading by the poet Robert Duncan, Coetzee draws the reader inexorably towards its astonishing conclusion.
Title: Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth
Author: Wole Soyinka
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Publishing Date: 2021
No. of Pages: 444
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: When We Were Orphans
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Vintage International
Publishing Date: October 2001
No. of Pages: 336
Renowned London detective Christopher Banks was born in Shanghai at the beginning of the twentieth century, and lived there relatively happily until he was orphaned by the disappearances of his father and mother. Now, more than twenty years after leaving Shanghai, he is a celebrated figure in London society; yet the criminal expertise that has garnered him fame has done little to illuminate his understanding of the circumstances of his parents’ alleged kidnappings. Banks travels back to the seething, labyrinthine city of his memory in hopes of recovering all he has lost, only to find that the Sino-Japanese war is ravaging Shanghai beyond recognition – and that his own recollections are proving as difficult to trust as the people around him. Masterfully suspenseful and psychologically acute, When We Were Orphans offers a profound meditation on the shifting quality of memory, and the possibility of avenging one’s past.
Title: The General in His Labyrinth
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Translator: Edith Grossman
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1991
No. of Pages: 268
”Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s most political novel is the tragic story of General Simon Bolivar, the man who tried to unite a continent.” Bolivar, known in six Latin American countries as the Liberator, is one of the most revered heroes of the western hemisphere; in Garcia Marquez’s reimagining he is magnificently flawed as well. The novel follows Bolivar as he takes his final journey in 1830 down the Magdalena River toward the sea, revisiting the scenes of his former glory and lamenting his lost dream of an alliance of American nations. Forced from power, dogged by assassins, and prematurely aged and wasted by a fatal illness, the General is still a remarkably vital and mercurial man. He seems to remain alive by the sheer force of will that led him to so many victories in the battlefields and love affairs of his past. As he wanders in the labyrinth of his failing powers – and still-powerful memories – he defies his impending death until the last. (Source: Goodreads)
Title: The Magic Mountain
Author: Thomas Mann
Translator: H.T. Lowe-Porter
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: 1960
No. of Pages: 716
A spectacular novel of ideas, The Magic Mountain is one of Germany’s most formative contributions to modern European literature, both for the themes it discusses and for its highly sophisticated structure.
Young, naive, and impressionable, Hans Castorp arrives at a sanatorium high in the Swiss Alps to find himself surrounded by exponents of widely differing political and philosophical attitudes. Amid sickness and decay he is forced to explore both the meaning of love and death and the relationship of one to the other. As he does so, the pattern that emerges from his discussions with his companions, and from his own musings, becomes a symbol of the forces below – forces that would culminate in the First World War and the destruction of pre-1914 civilization.
Title: Song of Solomon
Author: Toni Morrison
Publisher: Plume/Penguin, 1987
No. of Pages: 337 pages
Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.