Saturday, July 16, 2011

What I'm Reading Now & What I Want to Read

WHAT I'M READING NOW:  Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife, which is not to be confused with other new books with "tiger" in the title: Sarita Mandanna's Tiger Hills, an Indian family saga;  Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir about Chinese child-rearing; or Margaux Fragoso's Tiger, Tiger, another memoir about parenting. 

The Tiger's Wife won the Orange Prize this year. Obreht was one of the New Yorker 20 under 40 writers last summer (though that means little to me). 

I'm very glad I picked up this novel--wouldn't have done so if it hadn't won the Orange Prize--as Obreht is a very accomplished writer.  The Tiger's Wife is a short, graceful novel, laced with magic realism, and narrated by Natalia, a politically-oriented doctor whose youth in the Balkans was shaped by war and by her grandfather's magical stories of tigers and the Deathless Man. Between grieving for her grandfather, a doctor who recently died, and picking up his personal effects at a clinic in a remote village he was mysteriously visiting, she inoculates children in a village orphanage by the sea and, like her grandfather, begins to hear magical stories.

It's very good.  Though I am surprised this won the Orange Prize, I'm enjoying it very much.

BOOKS I WANT TO READ.  I have "firmed up" my reading list for July. Naturally, there are other books I'd LIKE to read when I've finished everything I PLAN to read. 

1.  The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy.  It is Mervyn Peake's centenary year, and I would very much like to reread his fantasy novels, Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone.  Illustrated by Peake, this edition will be reissued in September by Overlook.  I last read Peake's trilogy on a camping trip, and because I never slept--nearby campers partied all night--my inclination was to sit by the lake in a daze and read instead of hiking, boating, fishing, and all those other fun things.  Finally I got a good night's sleep in a motel and then I enjoyed the park.

2.  A. S. Byatt's Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (a new novel published in the UK in September).  Here are two lines from the Amazon description:  "Recently evacuated to the British countryside and with World War Two raging around her, one young girl is struggling to make sense of her life. Then she is given a book of ancient Norse legends and her inner and outer worlds are transformed."

3.   Felix Palma's The Map of Time.  H. G. Wells is a character in this science fiction novel.  According to the book description:  "The Map of Time boasts a triple-play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel..."

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