Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Human Evolution: A Pelican Introduction

Human Evolution: A Pelican Introduction
Human Evolution: A Pelican Introduction by Robin Dunbar
came into my hands as a Goodreads Giveaway! At about the same time I got another gem: Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A Pelican Introduction (Pelican Books) by Orlando Figes

Both these books should grace all bookshelves, being among those books which, with relative ease, painlessly and pleasurably educate the reader. Any given adult or child should reasonably expect to find a book on any subject of interest that is well written and fairly informative.

Just as the latter book, which I read first, leads the reader through the turbulent times of the Russian Revolution without too many bumps along the way, Dunbar's book covers much trudging by those who might well be our personal ancestors. Dusty though these journeys through time may be, neither author waxs dry nor high on the specific subject.

And neither shall I run that risk in this review. So, let's hear it from the Robin's mouth and I, for one, shall quit horsing around.

Dunbar's  writing sparkles here and there with a little smile and that instantly dimples through a topic like evolution! Thus, it is not surprising to find that he has his hand in stuff that is more likely to appeal to wider sections.

Written with enchanting simplicity, elegance and a touch of humour, many books in the Pelican Library will lead you through our collective journeys.

Meanwhile, here's another book by Dunbar that I want to read soon.

Friday, December 09, 2016

R.K. Mohapatra's Somewhat Complex 'Retirement Planning - A Simple Guide For Individuals'

A book on retirement planning that looks at life from the Hindu perspective!

The below quote the author has used is much in the spirit of his offering:

I received this book via Goodreads Giveaways. And I was excited as, though I'm not a retired person - as I've never held a job, I'm getting on in the years and do experience times when I wish I could manage money better. 

Alas, though I'm sure the book is written to be easy to read, it's beyond my brain power to process. At times, the present Indian English, which is more than a bit hither and thither, proved the stumbling block for me and at others it was the financial advice. But then I'm somewhat like Jinu

It breaks my heart to be writing this when the author has so kindly sent me the book and autographed it! I will surely try harder to unravel the good advice with which I'm sure the book is loaded.

One look at the contents will show you that this is a useful book:

It's not the author so much as the editors. Ah well! It does appear that, through some mysterious workings of nature, Indians and many others seem to decipher the many world Englishes of our regions.  

Blue Rose Publishers can easily hire someone like me :D. But no. Alas!

In any case, a great buy for many! 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pahmuk's "My Name is Red" - An Unforgettable Read!

My Name is Red
This is the edition I read and I rather like the cover art.
Every once in a while one comes across a story that is so enchanting, so unique in many ways, that it leaves a lasting impression. 

Excerpt: Chapter 1 I Am a Corpse

The characters will remain imprinted in one's consciousness as archetypes of Love and Betrayal, Jealousy and more. Human foibles are adorably portrayed. Thus, while it's a rather crafted piece, this book has all the ordinary virtues which draw us to reading: memorable characters and events.

Ostensibly a tale about miniaturists, Pahmuk's My Name is Red will open to you a world where not only the history and geography and more of the art is described but where the style also conspires to create the right ambience.

This is a book which gives voice to almost all things in Nature: a dog, a tree and even the Devil himself!

But, above all, a most tender love story! 

A book which smiles - there is a rich vein of humour, that sweet mother of compassion!

My Name Is Red is a book you simply must read. A worthwhile book, one which will enrich your world for you and weave for your pains a richness of your inner world.

A book you must absolutely buy! 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Revenge by Yōko Ogawa - Dainty Morsels Of The Macabre

What a contrast this book presents with the gentle The Housekeeper and the Professor! “Eleven Dark Tales” threatens the blurb. And yet the same nature of light dapples both works.

This small collection is a selection of stories each of which has a touch of the dark. Each story is somehow related to the others. Mainly via a character or characters in any one story who is or were protagonist in some other story in the set...

I can’t really tell you if there is a rigid linear progression but the stories seem to stand on their own as well.

From a heart that is outside a body and for which a bag has to be made, to the death of a tiger in a secret garden. From a torture museum to a body in an abandoned fridge. Stories that, by all accounts, must leave you in a dark place.

Yet the stories do nothing of the sort. At least not for me. They exhilarated and intrigued and were each exquisite morsels like a dark chocolate, each square of which bespeaks a different flavour while the whole breathes a peculiar delight, melting softly in the consciousness.

I’m afraid I have read little of Murakami and so I shall leave you to figure out for yourself if Ogawa is influenced by him or if, as is more likely, her writing lies more in a general framework of Japanese contemporary literature.

“You certainly get that feeling of being haunted by Murakami when you begin reading the "Eleven Dark Tales," as she calls them, in this story cycle by Yoko Ogawa.”

The above review will also lead you to an excerpt.   

Peek inside and buy your copy

Friday, September 30, 2016

Plodding Through "Many Roads through Paradise: An Anthology of Sri Lankan Literature"

I picked it up with high hopes but couldn't find the time to do it justice. It's a blend of prose and poetry and a bit bulky to boot. A must have for anyone who wants to somehow glimpse writings from all over the world.

As a tourist destination, Sri Lanka attracts many and this would be wonderful for anyone who is planning a visit.

I've evolved a way to keep track of what I'm reading and that's to take pictures of significant pages or passages. I can see how valuable a Kindle would be to a person like me! Yes, I'd love to have one on my Birthday!

To return to the anthology, the first two stories are actually excerpts from longer works and don't really breathe well on their own. There was a naughty one somewhere in the middle that was slightly entertaining. Towards the end, some stories deal with the civil war but failed to grip. As I said above, I have failed to do this book justice and would hope to sit with it at leisure. 

There's a nice section about the authors which makes it a valuable resource.

Lakdasa Wikkramasinha is a poet. So is  Vinothini. And there's Vilvaratnam...

Patrick Fernando is also a poet! And Vijita...

As for Ashok Ferry, I've read something of his but can't recall the name of the book...

Buddhadasa Galappatty, also a poet and Vimala Ganeshananthan has to her credit The Yaal Playersmemories of Old Jaffna.

V.V. "Sugi" Ganeshananthan reads from her book:

Women, especially those from India, Sri Lanka, etc. seem fixated on marriage themes...Is she similar to Chitra Divakaruni? 

Yasmine Gooneratne's books appear interesting - I'd love to read one soon.

I repeat: this book would have been so much more enchanting if read on a Kindle as the physical book is unwieldy in size and, to an extent, in content.

As you can see, that's a whole lot of authors! So, all in all, it's an ambitious work and, just perhaps, it hasn't quite come together for me.

I still think I'd love to come across this book in an airport library (do they have those?) or in a hotel - hotels simply must have a bookshelf at least if not a library. Westin, Bali, had one.

Sri Lanka is a country whose stories would be most valuable when narrated by native voices, turbulent, sensuous, austere, verdant, violent, island voices, a Buddhist country, war, strife, love, tea, tsunami, hills, rivers, fragrances, aromas, families, lives, loves... I've sold myself on this book and may even re-review it here  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Peek At Comic Con, Delhi, March 2012

Some years back I had a splendid time popping in on the Comic Con stall at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, when I'd gone there for the release of my husband's book:

After the event, I toddled off as my husband hobnobbed with friends. And I chanced upon the Comic Con stall!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Satrapi's Persepolis - A Must Read Graphic Novel!

What an outrageously good book! I've thoroughly enjoyed it and I salute Marjane Satrapi for this work!

This tale of a girl growing up in Iran could well be that of me growing up in India. Loving parents and grandparents who are responsible for the creation of an absolutely delightful girl. The hypocrisies that crept into our lives due to the perverted views of our civilisations as perceived by those who decided to "define" us unleashed a conservatism far from the liberal and rich cultures that existed in India and Iran.

Satrapi fearlessly takes on societies and other demons with delightful verve and unforgettable humour.

I've not seen the film but hope to.

Below is a video of Satrapi's paintings.
This video of an interview with the author helps us see this superb lady and hear her views on things.
One more for the road and one which someone will probably complain about and it will get taken down :(

I do hope that all my Indian lady friends will read this and indeed all and sundry too. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Splendid Book By Khaled Hosseini

Years back I'd seen Kite Runner and I never really felt drawn to reading the book. Perhaps because it was a best seller.

Recently, however, I ended up reading A Thousand Splendid Suns.

What a marvellous story! It opens with a kind of fairy tale told by a father to his two little children. From there the thread of narrative takes us down dusty roads, through the fanciful world of a certain Kabul, and thence onwards trips merrily across continents, leaving me, an Indian, with at least one scene from my country, one memorable and pivotal scene...

At least over the first half of the book the author holds in tight rein the story of many lives and, though the latter part is as enchanting, the pace slackens somewhat as if to somehow contain that exuberant diversity of continents and destinies.

The characters are larger than life, mostly, and memorable. As are some places described. 

Hosseini is almost godlike in his compassionate overview, the humanist in him in no way diluting the gifted touch of the storyteller. 

This is a perfect book for a holiday, for travel, for convalescence or just to read on a commute and a must read for everyone everywhere.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tami Hoag-Queen of Prurience

Couched in what purports to be a novel about crime and detection lies a wealth of fare for the prurient mind. There is a time in adolescence when the mind seeks such pages with all the assiduousness of a bloodhound. Given the plethora of more openly marketed matter for this penchant, it is amusing to find such an author.

There is a corpse or two, a cop or so, of course, but these ingredients are sparsely scattered in a steamy jungle of purple prose: the heroine is forever exciting forbidden desires, kindling lust and merrily moping over failed relationships. The hero does much the same. 

For the life of me I could not proceed page by page and so flipped  desperately in search of some anchor for action. A vain quest! 

Still Waters is as stagnant as the best of swamps. Only, swamps harbour better tales.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

I was not sure what to expect when I picked out Half of a Yellow Sun.

It's a sad fact that, today, the word Biafra rings no bells in most people. For me, though I was very small at the time of the events, it has left a scar. An image of Africa. I'm tempted to say that, though people at large are unaware of that struggle, they too associate the continent itself with certain photos. Through this book, I could be in that time and observe the sad things that transpired, things that could have been avoided and I applaud the author's courage in choosing the journalist, one of the main characters of this dramatic story. Via him she shows us the role of media in conflict which is not always a nice one.

Historically, it is possible that this kind of photo of starving children became an identity tag of sorts for all purposes regarding Africa. It is a mentality that stains even the writings of crime fiction in a Scandinavian country. It evokes a nauseating mixture of horror and pity. It is very disempowering.

Though equal atrocities have taken place all over the world, African, or even Indian atrocities, for that matter, become inflated by such representations and perceptions. As if we, by nature, are prone to cruelty and idiocy. In contrast, let's see what happens to hordes of us when we read Ms. Mitchell's Gone With The Wind.

Gone with the Wind

We are mesmerised. We want to be Scarlett and we swoon when we think that we might meet Rhett Butler. We are mesmerised by the cotton-wool thrown over our eyes. 

Do you know what that period represents? Do you know what atrocities were committed against the Africans and the Natives of that continent at that time? 

Anyway, the very pretty and not surprisingly very talented Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a wonderful book for you.

In the guise of an engrossing tale of two powerful and beautiful sisters, she takes on more than she ought to be able to chew given her age and spits out a remarkably powerful journey through the fraught days of Biafra.

Ms Adichie has crafted a work of effortless complexity, balancing and challenging stereotypes and all the myriad truths and lies and hypocrisies which pollute such a wild and doomed enterprise - the stakes at play when a nation is to be born.

I can never forget the characters she has created and they will heal and guide me much more strongly in life than that catty and shallow Scarlet O'Hara.

I will give you no spoilers but will exhort you to read this novel. It is beautiful and disturbing. It is young and strong. It is rich and light. It is the voice of the future for Africa is, as we speak, awakening. Africa is the world's tomorrow.

I also confess that I find the author very charming in her interviews and the book is a double delight for the value added pages at the end: links to her short stories and an insightful and section where she talks about writing the book.

Review: The Glass Palace

Visiting Kochi this August I found it much too hot to explore and settled for access to a library.

Dithering about what to choose I first selected Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace.

I came across my first Amitav Ghosh on the shelves of a relative.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: Lost Libido and other Gulp Fiction

    A nice gift for any short story lover, and for readers of the new breed of Indian authors writing in English.

Lost Libido and other Gulp Fiction

     It was the cover that made me pick out this book.

    That and the words "gulp fiction". From content that makes you go gulp to the metaphorical comparison of content that needs no chewing, it’s, perhaps, an apt description of this set of stories.

     And then short stories are easier to digest and review than longer works. Most days, the Internet holds me in thrall. Much that I do there is functional and mundane but then there is also the irresistible wealth of trivia that waylays time such that reading takes a backseat. Travel, where access to the Net is random and constrained, tends to reserve the leisure to finish a full length book. But that’s matter for another day, another post...Meanwhile you can follow me on Instagram to see my latest reads.

     This set of seventeen stories has one pretty much recurrent theme: bitterness against women and wives in particular. Wives, in Mr. Salil Desai's tales, nag incessantly. However, in some perverse fashion, it is the men, all of whom seem to harbour such thoughts, who get their comeuppance. Yet the passages which portray the voices of the wives remind me of a real life story I once heard.

     A man bought his wife a recording gadget as she had once expressed a desire for such a thing, being something of a wannabe writer. At one point in time, this man then recorded his wife's plaints so that she could hear how terrible her whining sounded. Of course the gadget then promptly not only lost its charm for the original purpose but became a loathsome sight to the woman to whom it was given as a gift. Which makes me wonder how the author hears the other gender. It is not only the eye of the beholder which holds the magic of perception. Ears play their role too. Whatever we are fed in terms of the prejudices of our times and specific backgrounds tend to be burped up as our reality.

     In a similar vein as the first story of the book, Lost Libido, there are Bit on the Side, The Maths Conundrum and, most of all, The Snake and the Stick, which reveal, at least in the protagonist, a certain marked attitude towards women.

     To be fair, the author seems to be examining the various foibles of humans in general. In One Monday Morning, for example, he plays with the other famous grouse of some men, the purportedly whimsical nature of women. And the gentle twist, in not the tail but a little earlier, neatly stands that particular misunderstanding on its head.

By and large, it seems to be de rigueur that short stories be about unpleasant things or beings. In that sense, Salil Desai had done his bit.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Review: Malice

     It is, admittedly, somewhat hard to continue being the stereotypical bookworm if you are not used to the electronic book format. And, even then, for many, there is this sensual pleasure lost of the touch and feel of a book, the smell of its pages that the cold and convenient elegance of e-reading cannot provide. However, much more active than that is the force of distraction that haunts the very corridors which provide you access to books online or on an app. Still, this is the stance of a few and I, for one, am plunging, at least now and then, into the world of reading off an app. For the moment it's the Kindle App. But I've yet to sustain myself on that - there are problems of Net connectivity or access, in the main.

Thus, it has become a travel ritual for us to carry books. For this trip I carried Higashino Keigo’s Malice and Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years Of Reporting South Asia.

     Malice is my third book by Keigo Higashino. My first, Journey Under The Midnight Sun, remains my favourite. I know I’ve given in to my hasty reading style which causes me to skip to the end and then work my way up and down a book after I’ve been good for a few pages or chapters. But this is one book I sincerely hope to re-read. Everything is transparent in his writing, on the one hand, and that is why his masterly sleights of hand and the challenges he sets himself in terms of being a writer become so magnetic. His books are page turners, every one of them so far.

    My second Higashino has cult status and it has remained unrivalled in some portrayals, some things it stirs within that are both liberating and tormenting: The Devotion Of Suspect X. 

     During my week in Kochi I had the chance to chat with a trio of undergrads from English Literature. In particular, I asked if they’d seen Drishyam, a local film reportedly based on this book. Apparently they had but, they reported, their fathers had not taken kindly to the movie, accusing it of glorifying crime. This, at least, proved to me the usual massive mess up that marks the morphing of a novel to the screen. Nonetheless, here is the trailer of the Malayalam version without subtitles

and here is the teaser of the Hindi version with English subtitles

However, there’s something about his writing that is irresistible to filmmakers and so you have Korean and Japanese drama and film versions of his novels. I’ve not liked too many so far.

The Koreans have delighted in remaking his works and here's a taste of one

And, of course, since Higashino is Japanese it is only fair to introduce you of a sample. This one was not too bad at all

I’ve not been able to find out if there’s been a drama or film version of Malice and would be grateful if anyone knows of any such.

As with his other books, the meat of the matter in Malice only surfaces at the very bitter end. And yet everything is laid out neatly for you, dear reader, from the word go.

He plays extensively here with the concept of multiple memories of one and the same thing; how a single person can be viewed so very diversely, on the one hand, and how, on the other, we see only what we are made to see. Bullying, a major issue in many Japanese films and dramas, emerges as a significant thread though not really the bone of contention, perhaps.

While there is no physicist or mathematician in Malice, there is indubitably in it the very thing most characteristic of a Higashino or, indeed, of any writer worth his salt: there is that in it which informs. You will leave such a book with some knowledge, something is learned most painlessly and therein lies the art of the writer and her/his worth. This is a book which also explores the world of writing as it is lived, practiced and perceived today.

The cover picture aptly captures the elegance of this crime story, using the austere cherry blossom twig to represent a certain scene from its pages. I fully endorse this as a splendid piece of murder mystery to read on a journey.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hard To Be Indifferent to 'Lovers in the Age of Indifference'

Xiaolu Guo’s Lovers in the Age of Indifference is like a set of picture postcards. Mostly, short pieces. Most or all of the pieces could leave the unprepared or traditional reader at sea as they do not fall easily into the category of story. There is, often, no particular crisis nor any spectacular resolution. Look at it either as a series of sketches or as superb samples of the author’s talent with various genres.

The Mountain Keeper, the first story in this collection, is narrated in elegant strokes. It is almost like reading a typical Chinese painting.

Winter Worm Summer Weed is another little portrait. This one brings life to and colours an arid region and arid lives with a bold and refreshing indifference.

Beijing's Slowest Elevator toys with the life of a woman who works at a karaoke bar. She could be a prostitute of sorts but, to us, she emerges as one of the teeming masses of China’s capital city. A longer creation, this story is divided into ten parts and each can stand on its own.

Lovers In The Age Of Indifference is bizarre and tender and faintly and deliciously creepy. I wonder if the author plans to expand on some of these pieces.

Junk Mail has left me scratching my head. Perhaps I’ve skimmed through too fast? Is this the gift of fame, that, once published, the publisher will accept all your scrawls? But that is unworthy of me. I also wonder how many have woven a tale out of the treasure trove we call “spam”.

Then The Game Begins returns us to lovers. Mah Jong forming the centrepiece, this sketch is delicately salacious and redolent with artful indifference.

Stateless, also, I confess, left me clueless. How is the protagonist? White or yellow or black or brown? Who is the girl? What is the story? It’s highly titillating and leaves you high and dry. I would have to read more of Xiaolu to understand this art of being such a tease!

An Internet Baby is hilariously tragic. It will pander to the preconceptions we are trained to have about China. It will feed and satiate that perception, while, I’m sure, the author smirks and snickers behind the curtains, content with our complacency.

The Dead Can Dance Heartbreak is a theme of several pieces in this collection and this one is a gem. Unforgivingly blunt, it captures the agony of rejection. It’s bound to strike a chord with habitual lovers. There is nothing quite as bleak as the end of love.

Beijing Morning Star The chief editor of a daily re-works a few pieces. Tongue very much in cheek, Xiaolu Guo crafts a universal piece. I dare anyone anywhere in the world to say “This is typical of China”!

Not all the stories adhere to the format of sketches. Into The World can earn anyone’s approval as a story. And what a story! Just as I appreciate Japanese authors all the more for being addicted to Japanese dramas, I do feel that I’m able to relish Xiaolu Guo so much the more thanks to having watched quite a few Chinese films in the past. I can’t think of any other people with such a predilection for irreverence. Confucianism and communism both conspired to create this outrageous brand of extreme and slapstick reality. Let me disabuse you, though: it’s an artful piece and very much in a traditional Chinese story mode.

Address Unknown Another in the heartbreak genre, this one reminds me of Jacques Prévert’s cruel Déjeuner du Matin. Those who have loved and lost have surely undergone this phase. There is, probably, nothing worse than the silence of a partner. The silence of death. The death of love.

A series of text messages, The Third Tree also uses the habit of the lover who cannot accept rejection, who still hopes into the deathly silence, who persists. It’s yet another instance where the author plays with formats. Now why can’t I try that! Why didn’t I think of it first!

Another libidinous story, Anywhere I Lay My Head, indulges in a voyeuristic foray, tracing a day in the life of a woman as she leaves her partner for a tryst with an ex-lover. Her duplicity, like a cruel crust, remains unnoticed. Framed within mundane happenings, this faithlessness becomes more poignant than heartbreak.

Letters To A City Of Illusion And Hope is composed, as you’ve rightly guessed, of a few letters between partners. It’s left me wanting to read or, at least, read about, Griffin and Sabine. And it has revealed how widely read Xiaolu Guo surely is.

Today I Decide To Die One way we react to a breakup is suicide. This is, again, a tale of rejection, set amidst descriptive chatter.

I confess that I am yet to broach Flower Of Solitude. At a glance, I can tell that it is carved in the mould of Chinese legends and myths. I’m saving it for tonight.

This is not for the unadventurous nor the untrained, perhaps. Short stories are regarded as chocolate boxes, a whole made up of nibbles. Lovers in the Age of Indifference, though formed of bites, cold shoulders such an approach.

An absolute must for all wannabe writers. And everyone else!

I leave you with a video of Xiaolu Guo reading some poetry:

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Review: How to Make a Fortune on the Internet: A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Create a Massive - And Passive - Income for Life

How to Make a Fortune on the Internet: A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Create a Massive - And Passive - Income for Life
Ajay Ahuja's guide is a neat collation of pertinent information - a "how to" but also a kind of self-advertisement. Well, almost everyone is doing something like that these days! This manual, however, is quite a handy set of tips, especially for those who are new to the Net or not quick to capture and use online information.

Obviously, though not too much in your face, this book is designed to make you approach the author for the real thing. And, indeed, it's a good strategy to give away almost everything when you're a specialist or a professional. Very simply, most of us cannot approach information with the intention to put it to use. Perhaps it's the way the education system messes with us. Nevertheless, even with a plethora of how-tos, such as we find online nowadays, it's hard for a body to figure out how to translate a guide or tips into action. We need someone to hold our hand through the process.

Another point that emerges about the book is Mr. Ahuja's discussion of the use of ads. Of late, we find that, on the one hand, we, the people, have taken to using the like of Adblock to improve our experiences online. The world of advertising, like much else today, is undergoing a sea-change. I wonder if Mr. Ahuja has woken up to this.

All in all, How to Make a Fortune on the Internet: A Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Create a Massive - and Passive - Income for Life is not costly and I'm sure it would be a good investment for many an entrepreneur, for startups and even for individuals interested in taking control of their financial lives.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Mankell's The Shadow Girls - How To Repel Potential Refugees

The Shadow Girls
I've no idea why I picked up another Mankell. And another non-Wallander at that! Says
In 1989 Henning Mankell returned to Sweden after an extended period in Africa. Upon his return in Sweden, Henning Mankell was astounded by the xenophobia he seemed to have started to grow in Swedish society and decided to write about it. Since racism, according to Mankell, is a crime he needed a police officer. After a few searches through the local phone book Mankell had found his inspector. Kurt Wallander was born.
Mind you, I've yet to get my hands on a Wallander as the series has been worthy of TV and movie versions.

I can't say I didn't enjoy The Shadow Girls as there is a kind of humour in the writing. Scandinavian humour?

In any case the intentional humour is offered after about a chapter or so. Thus, what you first encounter can be a bit distasteful if you're a person of colour and one living in a land very far from the Nordic regions and one where your skin colour is quite the usual thing to have. So I'm a bit baffled about Mankell's desire to address racism. This is my second Mankell and, so far, though he does tend to be sympathetic towards his coloured characters, it's more to the tune of

"Bad things were done to you by peoples of my colour! But what a very peculiar person you are! What terrible evil lurks in you!"
Mankell's depiction of a young African girl, a refugee, makes for inadvertent humour to me. What trouble he must have taken to "research" for that!

It's as though he cannot find criminals or wretched characters who are not persons of colour! And his guilt so torments him that, even when he tries to portray a girl from Africa as a victim with whom we must sympathise, he fails. 

I confess that I skipped and skimmed merrily through the book for it had nothing to hold my attention apart from the refreshing humour of some conversations between Scandinavians.

Such books ought to be distributed for free to all potential refugees and, lest they can't read or can't read the language of publication, perhaps drones should drone out the novel to such peoples. I'm pretty sure it will cure all those Africans and others who seem to be so eager to rush to Europe, etc. for refuge of this misapprehension.

I, for one, will be most loathe to visit Mankell land, post reading his books.

Yet, I'm sure that The Shadow Girls will find appreciative readers there and in neighbouring countries and in my own land as well as in Africa and all those lands from whence pour those nameless beings "The Refugees". Because the news, too, is mostly written by the Mankell's of this world... 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Jo Nesbo's The Bat - A Scandinavian Detective Down Under

My third Nordic detective novel, Jo Nesbo’s The Bat, has not really upped my fondness for the breed. And yet I seem to pick them out of the multitude of crime fiction writers splattering the genre these days.

The Bat (Harry Hole, #1)

I guess I picked this one out by deciding between a Nesbo set in Bangkok and one in Australia. I was so tempted by a Nordic take on Thai but knew I’d end up being disgusted and angry at the stereotypical European take on Thailand. I thought I’d be safe with what ought to have been a White on White case.

Alas! After heartburn over Henning Mankell’s insistence on colouring his stories with Chinese and Africans, I ought to have known better. Detective Harry Hole has to be teamed up with an Aboriginal!  

It’s not as if the Australian police force has them in significant numbers. It seems to be, basically, so that yet another Scandinavian wants to leave us, people of colour, scandalised. The Aboriginal Andrew is no Arthur W. Upfield Bony Novels .

He doesn’t show any great skills of any kind, is a bit flashy and appears to have been interpolated solely to add colour to the story. And to stain the reader’s views of people of colour.  

My usual bile apart, I have a feeling that the author’s favourite painting is the famous one of Ophelia's death by drowning.

John Everett Millais - Ophelia - Google Art Project

In the meantime, thanks to researching for this review I find a new mode of book review on YouTube and there are many for the Nesbo books.

While below is a review for an upcoming film based on one of his books

there are others which are more entertaining

and, while those were trailers for screen versions, here's a book review too!

You might want to pick up a copy to check it out for yourself- after all Nordic crime mysteries are in vogue!