Category Archives: Faber and Faber

Read 104 of 2022. Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Title: Small Things Like These
Author: Claire Keegan
Publisher: Faber & Faber Ltd
ISBN: 9780571368686
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 116
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

What a graceful, small novel is this! It is also full of profundity, wisdom, ideas that are constantly at war with each other, and sparse, yet telling what it must in the most succinct manner.

Small Things Like These is set in 1985 in a small Irish town, during Christmas time. It is the story of a man named Bill Furlong and his place in the world. A man who seems content with his life – his wife and five daughters, doing what he does (running a coal and timber business), and yet something is bothering him. His past doesn’t let go – his identity is being questioned by him at every step, and all he knows is that he is a man caught – between the ways of the world, and what he wants to do.

Claire Keegan brings up so much in this small book. So many issues – religion, motherhood, parenthood, of what it’s like to have children and then to worry about them, of a small town and its inhabitants – the way they live, and survive, and hope for more.

The tone of the book is simple – and covering each layer as we go along. The writing is sparse, says what it must – Keegan’s writing is both contemplative and a statement to how it is not only perhaps in a small town but also maybe universally.

The concept of being human is brought out beautifully in this small novel. Of what makes us – our honest, true selves, with all our hypocrisy, our hesitation, and most importantly about wanting to fit in at large with the people around us, often thereby overlooking who we really are.

Through Bill we are introduced to our own incapacities are humans, our own weaknesses, and our own shortcomings. Keegan made me see myself so closely – though the situation is far from similar, and yet seemed so personal on other levels.

Small Things Like These is a novel that is essential reading. Like I said, it says so much and makes you think and feel so much about the way we live, and how we grow to be who we are.

Books and Authors mentioned in Small Things Like These: 

  • Enid Blyton
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Five Go Down to the Sea
  • Five Run Away Together
  • Walter Macken
  • David Copperfield

Read 204 of 2021. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Klara and the Sun
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Faber & Faber
ISBN: 978-0571364886
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

There is so much going on in Klara and the Sun that it was impossible for me as a reader to not put the book down and mull over what Ishiguro was trying to say, if one can get what authors try to tell you every single time. Ishiguro’s latest (and long-listed for the Booker Prize 2021) has been published after six long years, and all I have to say is that the wait is worth it.

To understand the concept of Klara, an Artificial Friend, and then to understand her thoughts and feelings and how she makes sense of the world is fascinating. Ishiguro’s writing in this one to me was way different from his other works. There is a sense of restlessness that I felt inside of me as I navigated through Klara and the Sun. Her world is very different and when she’s with her human friend, the perspective changes drastically. Memories merge with Klara’s observations that sometimes she comes across as an unreliable narrator, but that is also another aspect of the novel which is joyous to read.

The latent struggle of trying to make sense of what is going on and at the same time to be true to her human friend is real. The loneliness, the meaning of love, and could she ever love someone, and what makes her who she is are elements so complex and core to the novel.

Klara and the Sun was definitely worth the wait after The Buried Giant. I thought it would be similar to Never Let Me Go or on those lines, but Ishiguro not only surprises you, but sometimes urges you to look at the world differently, and in the process perhaps understand yourself, and maybe even your heart a little more.

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

love-after-love-by-ingrid-persaudTitle: Love After Love
Author: Ingrid Persaud
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 9780571356195
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 410
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

On the surface, Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud seems so direct a novel. A novel about three people and their lives unravelling, page by page. It is about family and loss, about silences, and worlds that collide and find a balance in a weird manner that sticks and stays. And yet it is so much more. Way much more.

Love after Love is about the shy, reticent man Mr. Chetan who moves into Miss Betty’s house where she resides with her young son Solo. The story is set in Trinidad and is about different kinds of love, maybe that’s why we all can relate to it, at some level or other. There is immense self-reflection, to the point of it perhaps becoming a bit much, but it is needed. We all are human, and these quiet inner monologues are necessary to perhaps move ahead.

Betty Ramdin has suffered for years at the hands of her abusive husband. Till he suddenly dies one fine day. She then takes in a lodger, Mr. Chetan, a profound, decent man, who not only becomes her best friend, but also family, and a father figure to Solo. They get into a routine of living – cooking, gardening, and together raising the child, using this as a way to get rid of their loneliness, and cope with life. Till, an incident takes place that changes their lives forever.

Persaud’s writing is honest and sublime. She plays with language, by not following rules, and I loved that about her writing. There is a sense of comfort in knowing the characters and their lives – as the details are revealed slowly, as the plot follows its own tune, and leaves you wanting more.

This book shows you aspects of the Trinidadian life that are full of gossip, domestic bliss (mostly) or not, community acceptance or rejection basis sexual orientation, worshipping certain gods or not, and more. Food plays such an important role in the book – it is almost a central character in so many ways. The title of the book is taken from one of my favourite poems by Derek Walcott, only to reflect on and show us what love is, what its limitless possibilities are, and how sometimes love is just what it is – uncomplicated, simple, and in so many ways elegant and forgiving.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi Title: The Death of Vivek Oji
Author: Akwaeke Emezi
Publisher: Faber & Faber
ISBN: 978-0571350988
Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction, LGBTQIA Fiction
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

This is going to be a short note, because this book is under embargo and I cannot post a review as of now. All I can say is that you must read, “The Death of Vivek Oji” by Akwaeke Emezi when it’s out. They have written it with a lot of love and heart.

The story is about Vivek Oji and his death and life – and what led to his death. It is about his homosexuality or even gender fluidity (or so it seems at various points in the book) in a place where LGBT rights are not recognised, and it is a crime to be gay.

The book is set in Owerri, one of the largest cities in Nigeria. It is about the differences that exist – the Nigerwives (as they are called) – who don’t belong to Nigeria but marry men from there, their children, the lives they lead, and above all the patriarchy that doesn’t let you be. The patriarchy of the Nigerian society that is so deep-rooted with all its hypocrisy is mind-numbing to read.

Emezi in their writing brings so much to fore that it compels you to understand and read more of the culture the book is set in. The book then is not just about Vivek Oji and who he was, but all the other characters as well – each trying very hard to find themselves.

A longer review will be up in August when I can talk more about the book. For now, this will do. But please do read it when you get the chance to.

 

March 2020 Wrap-Up

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.51.05 AMMarch has been a fantastic month. For me, personally. I have struggled with anxiety and calmed it. I have switched off from the news, and trying very hard to keep away from it on social media as well. I’m just made this way. On the reading front, I read 23 very different books and I am on top of the world. I feel ecstatic. Here’s hoping we all get out of this sane. Much love.
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Here are the titles with the ratings:
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1. Death in her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (4)
2. Fabulous by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (4)
3. And I do not forgive you: stories and other revenges by Amber Sparks (4)
4. Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano. Translated from the French by Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis (5)
5. The Seep by Chana Porter (5)
6. Fern Road by Angshu Dasgupta (3)
7. Apartment by Teddy Wayne (4)
8. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar. Translated from the Persian (5)
9. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (4)
10. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes (4)
11. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (4)
12. Girl by Edna O’Brien (4)
13. A Burning by Megha Majumdar (3)
14. Amnesty by Aravind Adiga (3)
15. Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann. Translated from the German by Ross Benjamin (2)
16. Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin. Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell (4)
17. Red Dog by Willem Anker. Translated from the Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns (2)
18. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. Translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchinson (4)
19. The Other Name: Septology I-II by Jon Fosse. Translated from the French by Damion Searls (5)
20. The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa. Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (5)
21. Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor. Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes (4)
22. The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. Translated from the Spanish by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre (5)
23. Mac’s Problem by Enrique Vila-Matas. Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa and Sophie Hughes (4).
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That’s it, folks! What was your reading month of March like? Any favourites?.
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Here’s to April 2020. Can’t wait.