Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. I hope your week is doing well.

As it is midweek, it is time for a fresh WWW Wednesday update, my first this year. 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?

Like 2022, the first few weeks, or mayhaps, months of 2023 will be spent catching up on books released in the prior year. As such, I am currently reading my sixth consecutive 2022 book, a stretch that started late in 2022. Moreover, eight of my last nine reads were books released in 2022. Anyway, I am currently reading John Irving’s The Last Chairlift. I didn’t even know that the American writer was releasing a new work in 2022; I learned about it late in the year. As someone who loved A Prayer for Owen Meany, I immediately added the book to my reading list. I was even more excited because it was HEFTY. The Last Chairlift is my fifth novel by Irving, a writer whose prose and execution have become familiar. Indeed, I find his latest work an echo of his older works, The World According to Garp, to be more particular. Andy, the main protagonist in The Chairlift, was like Garp. They are both illegitimate sons who have an unusual relationship with their mothers. Their mothers are also almost absent in their lives. They are both associated with the Philip Exeter Academy and were both raised in New Hampshire. Both were also writers. So yes, there were a lot of parallels between the two books. I am, however, hopeful, that Irving has some trick up his sleeve, one that will make distinguish The Last Chairlift from The World According to Garp.

What have you finished reading?

I officially opened my 2023 reading journey with Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel, Demon Copperhead. Demon Copperhead – I kept mistaking it as Copperfield! – is my third novel by Kingsolver and quite honestly, I wasn’t really keen on reading the book when I learned about its release; ironically, despite vowing to read lesser works of American writers this year, I opened it up with one and I am currently reading another one. At first, there was nothing about the title that appealed to me I guess. I was eventually convinced later in 2022 when the book was included in many a Best 2022 Books list. Besides, it has been three years since I read one of the American writer’s works, The Poisonwood Bible.

It was only when I read the blurb of the book that it finally hit me, the connection that I failed to make when I first encountered the book. Demon Copperhead was, in a way, a play around David Copperfield, yes, the Charles Dickens classic. David Copperfield also happens to be one of my all-time favorite reads although it has been over a decade since I read the book. The modern take on this timeless classic – Kingsolver would thank the book in the Acknowledgement section – commenced with the birth of Damon Fields whose name evolved to Demon. Because of his hair color, he earned the nickname Copperhead, hence, the book’s title. The book’s hero was born in a trailer in Lee County, Virginia, to a mother who was addicted to drugs. We then follow Demon, who narrates his own story, as he navigates the complexities of life. The coming-of-age novel dealt with the hero’s personal concerns such as drugs, the foster care system, the complexities of relationships, and also death. There were tender moments and moments of hilarity, perfectly balanced by Kingsolver’s prose.

I immediately followed up Demon Copperhead with a book I have been wanting to read. Prior to 2022, I have never heard of Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka. Had it not been for the Booker Prize – a well of amazing reads by the way – I would have not heard of him. His latest novel, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, was among the first books that piqued my interest when the longlist was released; I think, apart from NoViolet Bulawayo, I am not familiar with any of the thirteen writers on the longlist. There was something about the book’s title that I fancied. My interest in the book grew tenfolds when it went all the way to winning the prestigious literary prize; it was a big year for South Asian Literature at the Booker Prize as Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand won the Booker International Prize

As expected, the book was not immediately available in the Philippines. It wasn’t until it was declared the winner that the preorder for the book was available in my go-to bookstore. It would then again take about a month before I would receive the book; by then, we wave goodbye to 2022. But once the opportunity came for me to read the book, I did not hold back. As I expected, there was nothing normal about the book. When the novel commenced, the titular Maali Almeida woke up in a place he did not expect to be: the place between heaven and hell. The year was 1990 and Almeida was unsure what happened to him. As the story moved forward, we learn that he was a photographer by profession and was all over Sri Lanka during the civil war that hounded the island from the early 1980s until 2009. The novel was very graphic. After all, the main character was a photographer and he was capturing the atrocities of the war. It was chilling but with wit and humor, Karunatilaka managed to shed light on this tumultuous section of Sri Lanka’s contemporary history; this is a subject I often find in the works of Sri Lankan writers.

Next up is Jabari Asim’s Yonder, a book that was recommended by a fellow book reader. Prior to 2022, I have not encountered nor have I read any works by Jabari Asim. I learned that Asim has a very extensive writing resume, a career that spanned various genres such as essays, poetry, and children’s stories. Yonder was his third novel. Somehow, I feel like the novel has elements of magical realism. Lastly, I am planning to read Lidia Yuknavitch’s latest novel, Thrust. Whoa. This will make it three new writers in a row for me. Unlike the two books which are both works of historical fiction, Thrust is set in the future which makes me suspect that it is dystopian fiction. That’s it for this week’s (late) WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!