Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. I hope your week is doing well. I can’t believe that we have already chalked up two months of the year. I hope the year has been kind to everyone. I hope that the rest of the year will be filled with nothing but good news and good tidings.

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?

After spending the month of February immersing in the works of British and Irish literature, I realized that I still have quite a lot to catch up on in this part of the literary world. As such, I have decided to extend my foray into British and Irish literature this March although the focus might probably be more on British writers as I can’t find other works of Irish writers on my bookshelf. Regardless, my current read is Muriel Spark’s The Mandelbaum Gate, a book I wasn’t originally planning to read until I remembered that I bought the book nearly five (or six) years ago. I thought I listed it as part of my Beat the Backlist but I didn’t. Nevertheless, I am indulging in my first work by the Scottish writer who I first encountered through must-read lists. The titular Mandelbaum Gate is a gate that separates the Jordanian and Israeli sides of Jerusalem. Knowing this, one could surmise that the book has historical overtones. It does as it used the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961 as a backdrop. The story, however, involved Barbara Vaughan, a half-Jewish Catholic convert who was planning to meet her fiance Harry Clegg, an archaeologist working in Qumran. To do so, she must cross the Mandelbaum Gate which is rather complicated because of her heritage. The book meandered a little bit but it had some elements of adventure which kept my attention. I am just a couple of pages away from completing the book.

What have you finished reading?

On August 12, 2022, the world of literature was rocked by one act of violence toward one of its most revered albeit most controversial names. While delivering a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, a not-for-profit community on Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, Salman Rushdie was stabbed several times. I was appalled by the incident and I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that Rushdie was able to survive although he lost sight in one eye and the use of one hand. His detractors thought they did something, that they were able to finally silence one of the most critical and vocal writers of our time. They were wrong. True enough, a couple of months after the incident, the news of him releasing new work in early 2023 delighted his readers. I was one of those who were looking forward to Victory City. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a copy of the book shortly after its release.

His fifteenth novel, Victory City is a fictional account of the rise and fall of Vijayanagar, the titular Victory City. Vijayanagar literally translates to City of Victory. Vijayanagar was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, one of the many empires that commanded the subcontinent during the fourteenth century. The city’s rise and fall were captured by Pampa Kampana, a sorceress and oracle who founded the city. She chronicled the city’s story in her (fictional) journal, Jayaparajaya. I was surprised, to be honest when I learned that the book was a work of historical fiction and that it was primarily set in India. His last two novels, The Golden House and Quichotte were mainly set in the United States where he resided since the 2000s. I wasn’t impressed by these two works but Victory City tickled my imagination. It was a sort of homecoming for Rushdie and his readers. The book also sends a very powerful message: “Words are the only victors.”

After Rushdie’s latest novel, I am looking at continuing my journey to outer space by reading the third book in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I don’t want to lose my momentum so I am lining up Life, the Universe and Everything. Besides, the book looks like it is going to be a quick read anyway. After this, I am contemplating reading Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. I have never read any of Greene’s works previously although he is a name I keep on encountering on must-read lists. I am looking forward to what his book has in store for me. Lastly, I am planning to read Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I just realized that it has been over four years since I read a work by the popular English writer.

That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!