Sunday, November 1, 2015

Knopf 100--Day 14

49. To the End of the Land by David Grossman, originally published in 2010. To the End of the Land is another example of Knopf seeking out and publishing novels from overseas, this time Israel. Addressing the threat of violence in that country that's combined with compulsory military service Grossman's story is one of grief, fear, and love. Ora is thrown into a tailspin when her son decides to reenlist in the army just as anti-Israeli tensions are flaring up again. Convinced that the worst is going to occur, she sets off on a pilgrimage, walking across the country. Joining her on the journey is an old friend and former lover, Avram, the man who as a soldier was captured and held as a POW years earlier during the Yom Kippur War. Avram is damaged by the experience. Walking together, they try to work through the fears in their heads and the horrors of the past. This is a great read, so if you own a copy and know Gianna, you might want to hid your book. Her recent posts suggest that thievery is her favorite pastime.

50. When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka, originally published in 2002. Julie Otsuka is one of those holy shit writers that doesn't waste a word but still manages to knock you out with a 160 page novel. Emperor was her first book and can/should be read in one sitting, then followed by another book, The Buddha in the Attic (equally short, equally incredible). When the Emperor was Divine describes the story of a Japanese-American woman living in Berkeley when she sees fliers giving instructions for people of Japanese descent to report to internment camps. Her husband is suspected of spying for Japan and she and her children are relocated to the rarely discussed US concentration camps set up during World War II. Otsuka's writing about the camps is impeccable.

51. The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, originally published in 2009. With The Children's Book, Booker Prize-winning author A.S. Byatt has written a novel set during one of my favorite periods, the end of Edwardian England and the time during World War I. I'm talking to you, Downton Abbey fans. There are a ton of characters here, but at the center is Olive Wellwood, the matriarch of a large family and writer of children's books. She writes one book for each of her seven offspring. Into the mix comes a runaway named Phillip; think Dickens meets J.M. Barrie to know that this twist was a guarantee. Anyway, through the stories of her children and the stories created for her children we get a picture of England as a whole.

52. The Sibley Guide to Birds of North America by David Allen Sibley, originally published in 2000. It's not often that a revolutionary field guide comes along. Sibley is the Audubon of our lives, though, and his birding field guide has become the gold standard for birdwatchers. At the time of its publication I'd just started dating an avid birdwatcher, and I quickly became familiar with the beautifully painted birds in its pages. I also became too familiar with its heft as I served as field guide pack mule on our many jaunts to birding locations. Romance at the waste water treatment facility--l'amore!

No comments:

Post a Comment