It’s a year this month since I started seeking out international female authors and writing about their books. In that year I’ve managed to read a bunch of other books for non-blog purposes, but in celebration of this anniversary and in the tradition of my one line reviews, here are some thoughts on them:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – You’d think bombs, drugs, murder, love and art theft could easily sustain even a rather thick novel, but this didn’t warrant its 770 pages.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey – Told by Maud, an elderly dementia-stricken woman with a mystery in her past and present, it’s a strikingly original and frustrating read but that’s kind of the point.
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan – It’s hard enough to write science-based stories in a way that’s not only accessible but enthralling. I imagine it’s even tougher when that story involves your mental collapse and your family’s anguish. Kudos to her.
Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord – Short and sweet, I liked the story but didn’t love the portrayal of women.
The Submission by Amy Waldman – Not as 50 Shades of Grey esque as it sounds, this is the could-be-true-but-isn’t story of American reaction to a Muslim designing the 9/11 memorial, an interesting concept that ultimately didn’t make a great novel.
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates – The writing style takes a bit of getting used to, but I was quickly caught up in the escapades of this 1950s girl gang, and gang is not used lightly.
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood – Atwood’s first novel and my first Atwood (sorry literary world). Contains some provocative plot points, but I expect she gets better.
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden – Absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year. More compelling and challenging than pretty much any Canadian history class I’ve ever taken (and I’ve taken many).
Cockroach by Rawi Hage – The life of an immigrant man on the fringes of society in Montreal makes for an uncomfortable read.
Blood: The Stuff of Life by Lawrence Hill – Did not realize I’d find every angle on blood so fascinating; from history to religious symbolism to the science that keeps you alive, I was captivated.
Oxtales: Fire – A book of short stories from a variety of authors to benefit charity, the first gruesome story of a princess on an island is all that stands out in my mind.
The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick – A book I liked more in retrospect than while reading, it’s really a series of vignettes about a woman with a life somehow both extraordinary and ordinary.
Annabel by Kathleen Winter – The story of an intersex child raised a boy in an isolated town on Canada’s east coast, Annabel is heartbreaking in its sincerity.
The Devils of Loudon by Aldous Huxley – “Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better.”
The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith – I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from a 69-page mini-novel but something more than I got.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Not sure what it says about me that I wanted a less happy ending…everything worked out TOO perfectly!
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and then immediately got over it.
Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman – Probably I should just turn this into wallpaper and slap it up in my room as a constant reminder.
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan – A blend of truth and fiction set in late 19th century Paris that entangles the lives of young dancers with Degas and the notorious Emile Abadie. Like any good historical tale, it had me googling all those involved to find out more.
Death With Interruptions by José Saramago – A rare case of a novel being totally novel.
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida – The q&a format didn’t appeal to me, but this 13-year-old offered some enlightening insights into autistic life.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann – Skillfully weaves together several lives you would never expect to intersect around an event you would never anticipate (if it hadn’t already happened). On a related note, I can’t believe I still haven’t seen Man on Wire.