The Week in Books #87

6/14 ✅

The week in books! I’m getting close to the end of my most recent tarot project so I’ve had a little more time for reading. This past week I made it through two more of this stack plus an additional one my Mom gave me that had been on my list.

1. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve been eyeing this book since its release but hadn’t splurged on a copy yet, so I was pretty happy to have my Mom bring me one as a surprise last week! I started it right away. I loved the concept of companion robots that can be purchased to accompany people in their day to day lives. This story follows the life of one such robot and the girl she cares for and explores the idea of what makes a person truly human. I enjoyed Klara’s relationship with the Sun which I thought was a cute touch. Pretty entertaining and thought-provoking novel.

“What stays with you in ‘Klara and the Sun’ is the haunting narrative voice—a genuinely innocent, egoless perspective on the strange behavior of humans obsessed and wounded by power, status and fear.” —Booker Prize committee

Here is the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her. Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

Penguin Randomhouse

2. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi. Ahhh this book made me so sad. Vivek is dead (not a spoiler, it says so right in the title) and as the story, which is set in Nigeria, unfolds we find out what happened to them. Vivek struggled with his identity and had begun to embrace his feminine side and explore his gender expression and sexuality in private, something that his friends felt may have lead to his untimely death and his family was completely unaware of. It’s a quick but powerful novel that will most definitely leave you in tears.

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.

Penguin Randomhouse

3. A Burning by Megha Majumdar. This book will likely also make you feel pretty sad. Jivan is a Muslim girl living in a slum in India that is determined to get a leg up in the world. One day she witnesses a terrorist attack while at a train station on her way to tutor English, and finds herself blamed for the attack following a careless statement made on social media. As Jivan tries to clear her name we discover the other characters are working to get ahead themselves and may inadvertently step on Jivan to get there. A Burning is a very readable debut and provides plenty of commentary on class, corruption and justice. Very good.

Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan’s fall. Lovelyan irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humorhas the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.

Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning is an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to riseto the middle class, to political power, to fame in the moviesand find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.

Penguin Randomhouse

This past week was the Rotary Club of Nanaimo’s semi-annual book sale fundraiser at Nanaimo North Town Centre. In the spring the event was scaled back due to vivid restrictions but this one was expanded into the entire mall and had over 130,000 books! There were SO MANY BOOKS. I spent hours over two visits scanning through all the titles and made out with two good stacks of books, twenty-six total. I need to step up my pace to get through all my TBR piles now!

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