Category Archives: Harper Collins

Read 8 of 2022. Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades

Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades

Title: Brown Girls
Author: Daphne Palasi Andreades Publisher: Fourth Estate, HarperCollins UK
ISBN: 978-0008478056
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

This book reminded me so much of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, of course, barring the fact that in Brown Girls we are exposed to a variety of voices – of all brown girls trying to navigate and find their way in the world. While Cisneros’s work was about the coming-of-age of one young girl, Brown Girls is the story of many. It also somewhere down the line becomes the story of the marginalised, the unseen, the unobserved, the ones who are struggling every single day to make their presence felt. 

Brown Girls is about young women of colour – across ethnicities, growing up in Queens, and it is their stories that are told from one chapter to the other.  This book also reads like a memoir sometimes – I am sure though some portions are reflective of the author’s life. 

Brown Girls is a novel that speaks of the loneliness of young girls, the losses that they do not speak of, the secrets they don’t confide in anyone but each other, and the ones that are hidden even from themselves. It is a book of how brown girls are alienated and how they are almost given a handbook to be followed by their family and the outside world as well.

Andreades touches on female friendships that are cohesive, argumentative, disruptive, and extremely volatile. It is written in the style of a chorus of immigrant voices – of daughters living on the margins of the American dream. The expectations of parents, their own desires and hopes, and the world that doesn’t allow them those benefits is the crux of the book. It is also mainly about survival.

The writing is strong, unifying, sometimes speaking of identity as a whole, and sometimes right down to individuals. The complex nuances of race and identity surface with every chapter in a different way and compels readers to see what Andreades wants them to.

Read 227 of 2021. Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge

Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge

Title: Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World Author: Mark Aldridge
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0008296612
Genre: Books and Reading, Nonfiction Pages: 512
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

This is the perfect book for all Christie fans, but more than anything, it is just perfect and more for all Poirot fans. We have mostly all grown up reading Poirot and his detection skills. Whether it is a murder, or a case of mistaken identity, of theft, or embezzlement, Poirot saves the day. Poirot is the man and Christie created him so perhaps the world could relate to this character. 

This book is not only an homage to the detective, but also brings to fore the entire life lived starting from the first book till the last in which he appeared. Mark Aldridge is somewhat the best person to do this, because of the way he presents information to the readers. There is a division of  chapters by decades and which books published in which decade. And not to forget the most beautifully done covers of each book – different editions as well, that are there on every page. 

What makes this book so exciting is that Aldridge includes Christie’s views on every book, whether she thought it was good enough or not, also some publisher and Christie fights and disagreements, and the movies made from the books.

Poirot is a favourite. Mark only adds to that bias through this book. I couldn’t get more of the writing. The details, the facts that people don’t know about some books, and more are all neatly laid out. What is missing though is the editing at some points; some sections are quite repetitive. That could’ve been avoided for sure. Having said that, Agatha Christie’s Poirot – The Greatest Detective in the World is a great read and every Poirot lover should have it in their collection.

Read 225 of 2021. Strangers on a Pier: Portrait of a Family by Tash Aw

Strangers on a Pier by Tash Aw

Title: Strangers on a Pier: Portrait of a Family Author: Tash Aw
Publisher: Fourth Estate, Harper Collins 
ISBN: 978-0008421274
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 96
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I will now read more of Tash Aw. There is something about reading another’s family, their lives, their experiences in a new country, of how it was, and maybe it is still the same for people who aspire to move, to find roots elsewhere.

When you read about generations of a family and how they live, you relate. Families all over are just the same. Sure, we are different in our own way, but the intersections matter. Whether it is the Malaysian and Chinese heritage of Tash Aw or an Indian Pakistani heritage, somehow it all merges into one big identity.

Strangers on a Pier manages to fit so much in its mere ninety-one pages. From birth to death, Tash Aw tackles it all. These are stories of a family that range from the villages to night clubs to cities and traverse various dialects, customs, and traditions that won’t let go.

The writing is flawless. Every sentence, emotion, and every word are in place. When he speaks of rain, or of exams that have to be given, or explaining the differences between the East and the West, all you want to do is read and when the book ends so soon, you wish it were longer. Through other cultures, Tash Aw bares his culture. Through other ways of being, he speaks of his – dating back generations, and about futures that are so intertwined to the past.

Read 221 of 2021. The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Reading List by Sara Nisha AdamsTitle: The Reading List
Author: Sara Nisha Adams
Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN: 9780063115040
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
Rating: 2/5

I like books about books and how reading heals and how it helps cope with life. I was eagerly looking forward to “The Reading List” but it disappointed me quite early on, and yet I went on with it, hoping there will be some redemption. I was wrong.

The characters are predictable and the writing quite uninteresting.   I mean I like the idea and maybe it could’ve gone somewhere, but that wasn’t explored. Both Mukesh and Aleisha are not relatable. Books are the common factor between them and there’s a reading list (but of course) but that’s that. The reading list however is interesting and can be talked about a lot more than the book of which it is a part.

Like I said, the writing doesn’t lead you to imagine, it doesn’t make you empathise with the characters, nor does it excite you. I can see why it might work for other readers, but it just didn’t do anything for me.  

Read 210 of 2021. The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois

Title: The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois Author: Honorée Fanonne Jeffers Publisher: Harper ISBN: 978-0062942937 Genre: Literary Fiction, African American Literary Fiction, African American Women’s Fiction
Pages: 816
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I will always be grateful to Oprah’s Book Club for introducing me to the debut novel of Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. The minute I saw it being picked by Oprah for her book club, I knew I had to read it. A multigenerational saga, with African American history at its core is something I wouldn’t want to miss reading. What I didn’t realize was how attached I would become to the characters, how I would root for some and become their cheerleader, how I would hate some with a vengeance, how I would fall in love with the language, and more than anything else, how I would find parts of myself in this novel.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is more than just a story told through the lens of an African American family. It is so much more than that. It is not just about African history intertwined with contemporary living, but so much more. Jeffers lays it all out, bares her soul, to make us – the readers see what it was and what it still is. This is most marvellously done through the songs and writing of W.E.B Du Bois who is at the center of this magnificent epic.

Ailey Garfield is a headstrong, vulnerable, emotional, and highly intelligent women coming from a long line of women of the Garfield family. This is her story. This is the story of the women of the Garfield family – her mother, her maternal grandmother, great-grandmothers, her sisters, and her ancestors tracing way back to how they became slaves and what happened. It is the story of so many generations and somehow the story sadly is still the same, the one of fight – the one of voicing what is right, the one of standing up against wrong, and yet at the heart of it all there is love. A whole lot of love, that shines through the writing.

Ms. Jeffers’ voice shifts beautifully between times, between the past, the present, and beyond. The narration shifts swiftly to communicate the timbre of the times, the tone, of how it was, and in all of this never losing sight of the family and its struggle.

What I loved the most about the book is how emotional it gets you, and yet all you want to do is turn the pages. And yet there were times I wanted to just keep it down, which I did, and make sense of all the writing and the emotion. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is personal, it is political, it is devoid of the constrict of time (though it may not seem that way), and above all it is kind. It is a kind novel. It still preaches that over and over again, no matter what. Ms. Jeffers’ takes on topics that are so difficult and yet have to be talked about – the demonic nature of child abuse, the way relationships can get so messy, about slavery and colorism, about what it feels like to be the only black student and a teacher on campus, about black women who lead the novel and life, of how Ailey confronts tough situations as she goes along life, with help from her family and friends and about history that must not be whitewashed or forgotten. History that runs through the veins of every marginalised folk, in this case the African American people. The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois is compelling, gorgeous, stunning, and a read that has to be mandatory for all. Please read it.