Now that I am slightly less sick and able to read again, here are some reviews…
The Book of the Dun Cow, Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Chauntecleer the Rooster is the noble Lord of his region in a world without humans, and he must rally a ‘fellowship of the meek’ to fight a great unholy Trinity invading his land. Rich with biblical imagery, and yet refusing classification as a biblical allegory, I found this story incredibly moving and insightful. It’s one I will return to. There’s a second book I’m going to look up as well.
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
There’s lots about African women’s hair in this love story between two Nigerian high school sweethearts who are separated when Ifemelu moves to the US to study, leaving Obinze to continue with his life in Nigeria. It’s quite uncomfortable read at times as Ifemelu blogs about the ‘types’ of white people she encounters, the difference between Black American and Black in America, and how all of these people interact. I gather Adichie’s drawing on some autobiographical experiences here. Having read Adichie before, I figured there’d be some empathetic writing and insightful descriptions of people and social movements, but I’d forgotten how funny her writing is too!
All the light we cannot see, Anthony Doerr
Literary fiction with a prologue heavy on description, at first I thought this novel would bore me, but I was totally sucked in. Werner is an orphan with a genius for technology, and the Nazis offer him a chance to go to a good school. Marie-Laure is the blind daughter of a museum locksmith. In the middle of WWII they wind up in the same French seaside town, only to discover their lives were intertwined long before that. There was more to this novel than I expected, and at the same time, a beautiful simplicity to the storytelling.
Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee
In this controversial follow up to everyone’s-favourite-text-they-studied-in-high-school ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Scout returns to Maycombe, and grows up and there’s a sense in which we do so with her. There’s been a great deal of to-do about this book portraying Atticus as a racist, but it’s a racism that will be well familiar to many, where, as life and circumstances are a bit less black and white, so are our hearts and intentions. Not great as a standalone novel as it references the first quite a bit, but I thought it was outstanding as a sequel.
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
I gather this book about Louis Zamperini has been made into a movie as well. Despite the brevity of the writing style, it’s told with humour and drama, from Zamperini’s rascal childhood to his Olympic dreams, wartime experiences of battles, being lost at sea and being a POW, and his marriage and conversion to Christianity. The twists in his life are almost unbelievable – you couldn’t make this stuff up! – but what’s so beautiful about it is that for all his fantastic courage, he really is broken, until he meets the One who can make him whole.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.