Page 41 of 42 FirstFirst ... 3139404142 LastLast
Results 801 to 820 of 822

Thread: Recently Begun Books

  1. #801
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Curitiba, Brazil
    Posts
    257

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Started To Live, by Yu Hua. i'm enjoying it greatly so far. It's been a long time since I last read a fine Chinese fiction. There are only a few of them translated here, and that is a shame. I usually love art and literature from most Asian countries, but there's a void to be filled in our literary scene.

    Also started Alejandro Zambra's The Private Lives of Trees. Don't know what to expect, since Bonsai left me cold, and the only reason I'm returning to the author is because some dear friends have insisted.

  2. #802
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Chicago, IL, USA
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Aparajito by Bibhutibhushan Banerji (or Bandhopadhyay, depending on your preferences...it's a Bengali name). This is the second volume in the Apu trilogy (immortalized by Satyajit Ray). I found the first volume, Pather Panchali, one of the very best books I think I've ever read.

  3. #803
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Guadalajara
    Posts
    5,181

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by DouglasM View Post
    Started To Live, by Yu Hua. i'm enjoying it greatly so far. It's been a long time since I last read a fine Chinese fiction. There are only a few of them translated here, and that is a shame. I usually love art and literature from most Asian countries, but there's a void to be filled in our literary scene.

    Also started Alejandro Zambra's The Private Lives of Trees. Don't know what to expect, since Bonsai left me cold, and the only reason I'm returning to the author is because some dear friends have insisted.
    I loved Yu Hua's To Live. Way better than the two books I've read by Mo Yan.

    If you didn't like Bonsai, Private lives of Trees will do no better effect on you either. If you want to keep trying Zambra go with his third novel which is less experimental more focused on sociopolitical issues of Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship.

  4. #804
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Utrecht, the Netherlands
    Posts
    498

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    I read Bonsai twice. The first time I didn't like it, but reviews were so postive that I decided to give it another go. I liked it better the next time, but not enough to go for Private lives. Maybe I should try it a third time.

    The other day I started reading

    Edna O'Brien - The little red chairs. I'm halfway through and not sure what to think about it. Interesting story idea, but somewhat unrealistic here and there. And a bit messy in terms of characters. Also I have to look up more words in the dictionary than I usually have to when I'm reading in English. I wonder if this is because she's Irish, or because she's of rather high age and perhaps writing somewhat more archaic, or just because my English is getting rusty. Anyone else read this?

  5. #805
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Sylhet, Bangladesh
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    I wish you could read Aparajita (অপরাজিত) in bengali,... Such a work of fiction,.. The three Bandhopadhyays, Tara, Bivuti and Manik, only if you could read them all,... Only if they were widely translated, such a loss for world literature,
    Last edited by Humayun Azad; 27-Jun-2017 at 16:18.

  6. #806
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Chicago, IL, USA
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Gebreyesus Hailu, The Conscript.

    I can't recall now where I read about this but it seemed intriguing. Written in Tigrinya (the language of Eritrea and northern Ethiopia) in 1927, per the book's own description, it depicts (in fewer than 100 pages) the experiences of the Eritrean ascari, soldiers conscripted to fight in Libya by the Italian colonial army against the nationalist Libyan forces fighting for their freedom from Italy’s colonial rule. Anticipating midcentury thinkers Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire, Hailu paints a devastating portrait of Italian colonialism. Some of the most poignant passages of the novel include the awakening of the novel’s hero, Tuquabo, to his ironic predicament of being both under colonial rule and the instrument of suppressing the colonized Libyans.

    I've only read a single chapter so far and have no real basis to judge but I liked what I read, found the character briefly (but very well) sketched, and am looking forward to more. I know little about Eritrea or Eritrean history other than general knowledge about Italy and its, um, escapades in east Africa in the early 20th century. So I am grateful for the translation's existence and am quite looking forward to discovering what Hailu has to say.

  7. #807
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Utrecht, the Netherlands
    Posts
    498

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Thanks for making me aware of this book, Tiganeasca. I had never heard about it. There is no entry on Wikipedia about the author, and there's not much to find about this novel on other places on the web either (at least not in a language that I understand). But it's available as an e-book, so I think I'm going to buy a copy.

  8. #808

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    I'm wanting to repeat what Peter said. That sounds like a fantastic book.

  9. #809
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Been working through all of the plays I've bought that have been laying around.

    As before, I continue to be incredibly underwhelmed and unimpressed by Harold Pinter. I find him simplistic and crude. His political stances simplistic and the ideas explored in his plays very shallow.

    With Beckett I find myself reading very slowly, I'm constantly looking for meaning in nearly every lengthier sentence.

    Bernard Shaw's works continue to display brilliant feminist ideals but I've found the endings of his plays to be abrupt and somewhat unsatisfying. The collected essays he wrote about his own plays are often times much more entertaining than the plays themselves.

    Pirandello was a genius and the best of the lot for me currently.

  10. #810
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Chicago, IL, USA
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    I'm wanting to repeat what Peter said. That sounds like a fantastic book.
    Before anyone gets too excited, I've finished. It's only about 60 pages long. There are really only three characters: the protagonist and his parents. Much of the book retells the experience of the protagonist as a soldier going to, fighting in, and coming home from Libya. It has the...feel...of memoir, of being based on experience. There is, for all intents and purposes, no plot and little character "development." The writing is perfectly serviceable, even edging into (possibly) lyrical on a few occasions. But nothing is out of the ordinary; nothing is really unexpected. His depictions are clear, if not particularly vivid. I have no basis to judge a translation, certainly not from Tigrinya. It's most interesting as being a story told from experience by a participant and in being written in 1927. It's surprisingly (to me, knowing nothing of historical or even oral literature from that region) "Western" in construction. All in all, I'm glad I read it but it won't particularly stay with me, I fear, and I definitely want others to go in with their eyes open. I'll be quite interested for others' reactions. (As to what I should probably have put in quotation marks, it was, as I said, taken from the jacket copy. As such, it's more than a little self-serving. Accurate but a little hyperbolic, methinks.)

  11. #811
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    With Fire and Sword - Henryk Sienkiewicz

    Since I bought this entire trilogy I've decided I may as well read it rather than continuing to put it off. This first novel is a little over 1000 pages long. I don't want to spend a lot of time on this (weeks) so at some point I'm just going to try and power through it.

    The introduction was interesting, it talked about the historical context of the novel, Sienkiewicz's reputation in Poland and why he won the Nobel (at least why according to this person), and his fading reputation abroad. Even then, in the 25 years since this translation was released I think he's become even more obscure to Americans. These translations themselves aren't even in print now.

    I'm about 60 pages into the novel. It's written like most other historical fiction and the prose is very straightforward. Not complex at all.

    The idea of reading 4 separate volumes that are all roughly this long is daunting though.

  12. #812
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Chicago, IL, USA
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    @Isahoinp - I admire your discipline and your ambition. I've toyed with it once or twice but could never bite the bullet and know I never will. I'll be curious to see whether your initial impressions are borne out (and fear they will be).

    Hart Wegner, Houses of Ivory (stories about that fascinating subCarpathian region near Ukraine, Romania, Poland... The publisher's blurb compares him to Isaac Bashevis Singer, but writing about the Christian community.)

    Modikwe Dikobe, The Marabi Dance (Johannesburg in the black townships in the 1930s)

  13. #813

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    I'm starting up

    Beckett - Molloy

    as a read with a friend who lives in Australia. He has already finished it. I'm just barely started, but I'm enjoying it. It has a different kind of energy to it than his later works (which are the only ones I am familiar with), but it is definitely still familiar.

    Rowling - Harry Potter y el prisonero de Azkaban

    as an accidental read because one night earlier this week I couldn't fall asleep and I didn't have a ton of mental energy to read something like Beckett and so I picked this one up and have found myself enjoying it a good deal already. There is something special about this world for me, even if it is nothing so magnificent to call it, well, magnificent. As I get older I'm finding myself attracted to these kinds of reading pleasures. Oftentimes it is in higher quality works, but not always. Maybe my sense of arrogance regarding what I read is slowly getting chipped away.

    Garcia Marquez - El general en su laberinto

    when I was in Santa Marta, Colombia a few weeks ago I toured the grounds of the sugar cane plantation where Simon Bolivar, the great liberator, died. It was an interesting afternoon. I'm not a big fan of Bolivar, to be honest, but I picked up this book in a downtown bookstore, feeling like it was the right book to buy in that town. I'm surprised at how accessible the language is, to be honest. It seems that when he wasn't playing around with magical realism Garcia Marquez was quite a straight-forward writer.

  14. #814

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    It's awesome to see you semi-struggling/getting through le petit prince and now you're reading piles of books in Spanish. Kudos!

  15. #815
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Trying something I don't normally do, reading multiple books at one.

    Since Henry Sienkiewicz's With Fire and Sword is very long (1000+ pages) and rather dry at times I've decided to alternate between reading a few chapters of it at a time and reading other, shorter works. The book is also big and heavy which makes it rather inconvenient to bring to work or really anywhere else you can slip in some quick reading.

    Read the first two sections of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury at work today. Despite being an American, I've never read any of his work (blame the public school system for inexplicably not teaching a giant of American literature and one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century).

    The Folio Library has a nice edition that uses colorized ink for each time-frame like Faulkner initially envisioned, sadly, I just have a standard version. Even so, I really don't get why this novel is on so many "most difficult works of all time" lists. The Benjy section reads very quickly and flows. Despite numerous paragraphs all being from different time frames it's not difficult to discern what's happening. The second section I didn't particularly confusing either. With the exception of the last few pages before it returns to the main narrative, the story features two narratives that are easy to pick apart.

  16. #816
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Guadalajara
    Posts
    5,181

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    Despite being an American, I've never read any of his work (blame the public school system for inexplicably not teaching a giant of American literature and one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century).
    That could be a fascinating thread. What haven't you read you think you should based on your nationality.

  17. #817
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    That could be a fascinating thread. What haven't you read you think you should based on your nationality.
    That would probably best be served by a separate thread. My personal issue with having not read many "essential" American or English language authors presently, is that I've purchased books by plenty of them but I keep putting them aside to read works in translation. My comments here are basically just going to be a rant about the the education system

    I've mentioned this before elsewhere, but again, I feel there is often a disconnect between the idea of having a degree in or teaching "English" and being knowledgeable of or studying the Western literary cannon. One of my issues here, is that many high school (secondary school) English teachers themselves have little to no knowledge of or experience with these works and they either do a a half-assed job of teaching them or they avoid them all together and teach more recent works that they've personally enjoyed. As I've also mentioned elsewhere, one can earn a Degree in English these days (at highly regarded universities) studying exclusively genre fiction, comics/graphic novels, children's books, and other not really "Literary" (in a highbrow sense) works.

    This could easily be corrected by having separate Literature and English courses but instead they lump the two together under one banner.

    Throughout my four years of high school English I was in the highest difficulty level courses it was possible to take, so in a sense, you can see that even at this level there are issues. The last two years of which I took "AP" courses, which means you can take a test at the end of each course to earn college credit in English (most colleges except these credits as either general education English credits or just an extra course of no specificity in English added to your transcript).

    My biggest issue with these courses though, is that they don't really teach English grammar or language usage. On the other side though, they aren't really teaching you "literature." It's just a catch-all type of class where they throw together some random novels, short lessons on ethos, pathos, logos, and symbolism, and then the basics of writing a high school level essay. Many of these courses also try to serve as ethics/social issues classes. There's just not enough specificity.

    The first year was a mix of greek works, Shakespeare, and shorter works you could consider part of the literary cannon (Golding, Steinbeck, Bradbury, Harper Lee). As a whole not terrible.

    Second year was essentially Frankenstein, Othello, some random poems, and then numerous 20th and 21st century novels I found completely ill suited for the purpose of the course.

    The third year is at this point supposed to be a college level English course. It wasn't. I had a terrible teacher who was obsessed with fantasy and sci-fi and spent most of his time ranting and raving about the evils of corn and corn syrup (serious). We read The Great Gatsby, and then again, more "recent" novels that I found ill suited for a high school English course.

    The fourth year was actually good. Thew works chosen were all important literary works from the world canon, the emphasis of teaching though, wasn't on prose, or language usage, or anything like that. It was basically just reading the books, discussing the plot, and then in a very basic sense discussing if the had biblical connections or obvious, in your face, symbolism.

    Many schools teach more recent works or works on social issues because they feel these connect with the students. I disagree with that method though. Sure the works may be more enjoyable or easier to read, but if they're not actually learning the world canon or anything about English grammar and language usage then why bother? I've never really agreed with the idea "well if they're reading anything it's better than reading nothing!" That logic is lazy. Here is a collection of works I had to read in high school in place of actual "literary" works that I feel we would have better used our time reading; there were lots more but for now these are the only ones I can really remember:

    Columbine - Don't remember the author. This was basically a journalistic look into the Columbine shootings in Colorado. Decent enough as a non-fiction book but it served no purpose in an English class. We learned nothing abut "English" "literature" from this book. It was just supposed to scare you into not shooting people at school and to "open your mind to social issues." Pointless

    The Devil's Highway Luis Alberto Urrea - Supposedly this book was chosen because we live in the Chicago area and Urrea teaches literature at UIC. Really though, this had no reason for being read. It's a non-fiction work about Mexicans illegally crossing the American border. Decent enough book, but served no purpose in an English class. More attempts to spark social awareness ins students by teaching works that have nothing to do with the class.

    American Gods - Neil Gaiman Not joking, in my college level English course we were supposed to read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, instead, the teacher chose this. He himself enjoyed the book and likely knew nothing even remotely about the literary canon. The book was poorly written genre fiction full of numerous cliches, plot-holes, and terrible writing and character-building.

    The Life of Pi - Yann Martel An attempt to teach a recent work of fiction that I felt fell flat. Most of the novel is just a very bland humanistic attempt to repeatedly say "different religions can live together in harmony" and then it's a rather bland William Golding rip off with a tiger thrown in. There's also a tacked on "gotcha" ending that seemed really obvious and unnecessary.

    The Catcher in the Rye - I realize this work is part of the American canon at this point, but I've always found it dated infantile. There are serious literary elements at work here (like the connection between certain plot points, the title, and the 18th century poem/song of the same name) but most teachers ignore these and instead focus on trying to explain "symbolism."

    A Separate Peace - John Knowles A homoerotic book about two male students in a boarding school. Why did they teach his? Knowles is an author of no significant reputation, he didn't pioneer anything, and the book itself really has no importance in American literature.

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz As shown in the discussions I've seen of this book on this forum itself, nearly everyone who read it here found the book overrated with weak prose and dialogue. Diaz himself is an author who's essentially famous for one work, having only three published works total in his lifetime (the other two being short story collections). They basically taught this book so you could read something about hispanics. Why not just teach some actual Spanish language literature instead? I personally don't like Diaz, though this opinion was established years after I graduated from high school. I think his police are petty, his reputation and renown (in the US) undeserved, and the fact that he's on the Pulitzer board laughable (like most of that award's choices).

  18. #818

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    What "highly regarded universities" offer English degrees in those categories you listed? Not trying to be combative, genuinely curious. I only know of one person from Harvard who recently did a dissertation on children's literature. That was in 2014 and was about Harry Potter. Considering the growing scholarship on HP and how universities tend to pick their grad students, I'm not surprised they had one (but only one). I also know of someone who did comics research at an ivy, but it was in American Studies, not English. Outside of America, the one for children's I'd point to is Cambridge, but that's in the department of education. The hallmark ones in America for children's lit and/or comics are Ohio, Florida, Bowling Green, & Pittsburgh. UCR, Kansas, Michigan, and Oregon maybe for sci-fi and fantasy. I don't see the trend much at tier-1 rankings (and yes, unfortunately rankings "matter" even if they don't actually matter).

    Side note: I gave Wao to someone who wanted to get back into reading and loves Vonnegut. I thought, this is a very easy read with sci-fi elements and cultural commentary... He put the book aside after a dozen pages because of all the footnotes, saying it was too difficult. So, based on that, I'm not surprised it would be taught in high school where everyone can marvel how difficult and genius the book is, gag.

  19. #819
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    I didn't say day degrees in those topics. I meant that you can earn a general English degree at the bachelors level taking only classes in those types of topics.

    I also basically meant at accredited, top 100 type universities. As in not online or for profit schools.

    I went to a top 50 University where many of the English requirements you could take classes on like Twilight to satisfy. People got credit for British Lit by taking classes on Harry Potter.

  20. #820

    Default Re: Recently Begun Books

    I'm not a fan of the "market ready, mainstream" American fiction, the type that NPR listeners read, but there are still a number of great writers out there. Once in a while, I'll pick up one of these "mainstream" books and enjoy it. I just finished Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson, it was really enjoyable

Similar Threads

  1. Recently finished books?
    By Mirabell in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 5177
    Last Post: 20-Jul-2017, 18:09

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •