The Week in Books #15

Another Sunday, another pile of books! Over the past 2 weeks I’ve plowed through a pile that have been on my shelf for a long while, it feels nice to finally be able to focus on reading again.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul – I loved that collection of essays about Scaachi’s life, family, and culture. She is funny, insightful, and kept me rapt right to the last page. The chapter about her getting stuck in a skirt in a fitting room was hilarious, and the opening chapter on flying anxiety definitely struck a chord with me. Definitely recommend!

What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah – This collection of short stories comes from one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 (read about them on Jezebel) and it very quickly became obvious why she was selected! I loved these stories. They straddled a few of my favourite genres from fiction to magic realism, to even a bit of soft fantasy/sci fi. Very clever and inventive. I loved the story of the hair baby the most, check out this New Yorker article about it right here. Another one I definitely recommend.

Ru by Kim Thuy – This beautiful book was written by a Vietnamese-Canadian woman, originally in French, and won the French Language Governor-General Award in 2010 (there’s a great review at The Globe and Mail). This is a short novel at just 140 pages, and is told in a series of poetic snapshots. I enjoyed the language and imagery of Vietnam in this book but didn’t connect with it as much as I had hoped. I think I felt a bit mislead by the fact that it is marketed as a novel but lacked the narrative flow and character development of a novel. As a collection of poetic writing it was beautiful, but don’t expect a plot that you follow from start to finish.

Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto – I’ve been wanting to read this for aaaaages and finally made it happen. At first I found it hard to follow, but as I kept going the picture became clearer and I began to enjoy it more and more. By the end everything made perfect sense and I found myself really enjoying it. Chorus of Mushrooms tells the story of a multi-generational Japanese-Canadian family in the form of little stories told by the grandmother through the granddaughter. I loved the flow and the way Goto ties it all together in the final chapters. This book serves as a solid reminder to always give a book a real chance by reading it all the way to the end. I often find myself starting a book and either not getting it or not liking the style, but persevere to the end and find it makes a lot more sense as a whole. Always read a book to the end to get the big picture! And do check out Hiromi Goto, she is a very underrated author that I have consistently enjoyed.

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