Tag Archives: barbara kingsolver

Top 10 Reads of 2010

So here is my personal favourite list of Top 10 Reads of 2010.  Here goes:

1. Castle by J.Robert Lennon: I loved this book. I mean, I loved it! The story was taut. It was not all over the place. It maintained the sense of mystery and thrill that a book like this deserves and at the same time did what few writers manage to – get a grip on the landscape and create it into a living and breathing character. I am all for this one and cannot recommend it highly.

2. The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov: Though I found the book to be a little boring in the middle, I have to admit I loved it. There is no way I could not. Here we have Nabokov’s last book (can we call it that?) with his original writing on cards which were well etched into the book. Brilliant design and even better story.

3. Quarantine by Rahul Mehta: Hands down for this collection of queer short stories written by an Indian living abroad. Not because I am gay, but because he did a terrific job of writing such crisp and well-defined stories, though they had absurd ends and yet this one remains to be re-read.

4. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: Highly accoladed and well-deserved for all the awards it won, Kingsolver did it again. It takes a lot to write a fictional tale and spin with historical characters – to breathe life into them – about what they will say or do given the situation. I bow to The Lacuna. The writing was lucid and emotional in too many parts to be described here.

5. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell: A masterpiece of titanic proportions. A saga (of sorts) set in 18th century Japan. A nation closed to the idea of international trade and confined to its customs and traditions, and who better to write it for us than Mr. Mitchell himself. I was enthralled by it and it held me captive for 3 days and nights at a stretch.

6. The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi: And from the moment I started reading this book, I could not put it down. The tale of the Patels had me eating out of Ms. Doshi’s hands and I wanted more of it. I just cannot wait for another of her books to come out. An under-rated writer for sure. Please read this one.

7. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: This has to feature on my list for sure. Dysfunctional family. Midwestern American State and all the action that takes place. How could I have not enjoyed this one? I loved it to the core. A Must must read for everyone.

8. The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das: A brilliant meditation on how the Mahabharata still affects us in this modern world. How truth, karma and dharma play their roles in the corporate and personal life. Gurcharan Das has done a brilliant job with this one. And I for sure am a sucker for mythology anyday.

9. Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller: If there is one biography I would urge anyone to read, it would be this one. Most people only assume about Ayn Rand and that is because no one knew her. Anne C Heller does a marvellous job with this iconic biography. Read more to find out more about Ayn Rand.

10. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman: Last but not the least it had to be this book. With the way it is written to what is being written about, I fell in love with this book from the word “Go”. A book to ponder over for sure.

So this is my Top 10 reads for the year and I know it will only get better in 2011. Bring it on!!

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

I remember reading, “Pigs in Heaven” by Kingsolver a long long time ago. I was twenty-one I think and was enthralled by the way she wrote that book, after which I tried reading, “The Poison wood Bible” and could not get past the fiftieth page and I wonder why. I am happy to acknowledge the fact that I managed to read, “The Lacuna”.

This book is a unique one. The story is written in the form of diaries, letters and entries, which makes it a special one to read. The plot though seems simple, is yet intricately layered and speaks volumes on the author’s talent and eye for details. The story oscillates between the United States of America and Mexico, and revolves around Harrison Shepherd. His mother Salome and her need to climb the social ladder at the earliest, for which she will not stop at anything, even if it means leaving her husband and fleeing to Mexico. There begins Shepherd’s story – in his diaries and entries.He journeys through life living with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and the infamous Trotsky, at the age of 13 to abruptly heading to America and writing books with his secretary in tow, Ms. Violet Brown (who is quite instrumental in bringing the man to us through notes).

I took a long time to finish this book, but I loved it to the T. Considering that Ms. Kingsolver took eleven years to write this one, it is nothing short of an epic. My favorite parts in the book are the exchanges between Shepherd and Frida. Here are some for you:

Frida to Shepherd: Soli, you are neither small nor tedious. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to confide in me, one pierced soul to another. Sleep on it Soli. Consult your pillow.

Where are your dead, Soli? Here, and the devil take it,a note-book for the altar of the dead in this lonely house. Dead and gone, the companionship of words.

A life is documented in this book, and that’s what makes it interesting, besides the fact that it brings famous dead people to life. That’s what makes it doubtful, with respect to having facts correct and I really do not know about them. All I know is that this book has resonated for the longest time in my head, after reading it.

This book is available at all bookstores. Publisher: Faber and Faber, Pages: 527; Price: 550