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Posts Tagged ‘Nobel laureates’

Memories of my Melancholy Whores is an interesting narrative by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It still contained Marquez’s dry wit and humor. I liked the way the main character’s misery, loneliness  and agony was depicted:

“…I’m ugly, shy, and anachronistic…”

Marquez’s characters are very complex, and he has a way of of giving you more insight on them by showing you their everyday, usually repetitive but detailed, habits. After reading this book, I came to the conclusion that Marquez has a fluent talent of wrapping up his stories, specifically his novellas. I felt that Memories of my Melancholy Whores was very well structured. The book was an easy read, despite the main characters pain and agony. This story was not captivating or exciting, but a relaxing, slow novella which shouldn’t be underestimated. I think that Marquez shows his high literary skills and abilities in this comic and artful book (not to forget the title).

This is “The First New Novel in Ten Years from the Author of ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE”, but I think that Marquez has more to offer.

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author: John Steinbeck

Set during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl migration, The Grapes of Wrath tells the journey of the Joad family’s migration from Oklahoma to California. I think that The Grapes of Wrath is a very hopeful book. One is deeply inspired as he follows along the great moments and disappointments of the Joad family, which struggles against the odds. The ending of the book leaves the reader with minimal knowledge of what will happen in the future. While reading the book, you would expect to eventually know what happens to the family, but actually you’ll never know. It leaves you as curious as you were during the middle of the book. I think that the message of this book focuses on the present. Despite difficult times and uncertain futures, the Joad family will remain resilient and dignified at all times. The Grapes of Wrath is a great story of hope. All the members of the Joad family have faced devastating tragedy, discrimination and injustice,  but they stay together and move on. The Grapes of Wrath is a  humane book and very true meditation of life.

buy from Amazon

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Wandering Star - J. M. G. Le Clezio

Wandering Star is a book by the French 2008 Nobel Prize winner J. M. G. Le Clezio. It tells the story of two women, Esther, a Jew who has to flee her town from Germans and is amongst the people who dream of doing to  Jerusalem, and Nejma, a Palestinian girl who is staying at a refugee camp.

The worthiest thing in this book is its lyrical prose. C. Dickinson has translated this book making keeping the beautiful poetic language in it:

…”Then the music truly began, it sprang from the piano all of a sudden and filled the entire house, the garden, the street, it filled everything with its power, its order, and then it grew soft, mysterious. Now it was surging up, pouring like the water in the streams, it went straight up to the sky, to the clouds, mixed with the light. It spilled over the mountains, went all the way to the source of the two torrents, it was as powerful as the river”.

Reading this book was very soothing, and it was like reading poetry. Wandering Star is also a beautiful story of survival, and how characters cope during difficult times. 

At the beginning of the book, Esther is a young girl living in Saint-Martin. She is living a blooming childhood, but she and her family have to line-up with the rest of the Jews to get their ration cards, and their place is controlled by Italians soldiers. Later, they have to flee to escape from German soldiers, and the story follows Esther and her mother’s way to Jerusalem through France (her father dies helping fugitives escape). After boarding the Sette Fratelli, she meets a Palestinian refugee, Nejma, for a brief moment.  Then there is Nejma’s story, a girl who is staying at the Nour Chams Refugee Camp.

Points of view sometimes change. I think this is a very deep story which goes beyond what is going on in the book. I felt that Wandering Star is more about portraying how people live during devastating times, and Le Clezio renders a mesmerizing conscience through his characters.

I finished this book in only three days because the author really puts you through the mind of his characters and keep you absorbed in his melancholy book about human struggle and survival.

Le Clezio is not very well-known, and in my opinion he should receive more attention than he is getting because he is a great author who has a different writing perspective and describes in lyrical prose. I liked this book because it focuses on the deep thoughts of the people and doesn’t comment or take sides on the conflict going on in the book. Instead of the book being mainly about the conflict surrounding the nations, it is about vividly portraying the human mind, and the conflict is just a backdrop in the book.

my rating: 5/5 (definitely worth reading)

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In Marquez’s detailed 2003 memoir, Living to tell the Tale, he recounts the details of his life as a struggling writer and journalist, until the day he proposed to his wife. The book begins when the author’s mother, after several years, visits her poverty-stricken son to ask him to accompany her back to his hometown, Aracataca, to sell his grandmother’s house. She also tries to convince him to fulfill his father’s wish by going to law school and earning a degree in law. In his memoir Marquez recounts not only the people but also the writer and poets who shaped his life as an author. His dry wit was inspired by his grandfather, with whom he shared a close friendship. His novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, were based on the events of his parent’s life. Marquez blends his elements of wit from One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera into this masterful autobiography, where he explains his various struggles as a journalist against the backdrop the events in Colombia, such as the War of a Thousand Days.

Unfortunately I have read a couple of other books while reading this book, which I have finished quite some time ago, so I don’t have a fresh memory of what is inside it (that won’t happen next time).

my rating: 10/10 – a masterful book and a gem for Marquez fans

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Here I’d like to share with you some memorable parts I came across from Love in the Time of Cholera (Garcia Marquez) which I’ll always treasure:

It was fortunate that after so much governmental instability because of so many superimposed civil wars, academic standards were less selective that they had been, and there was a jumble of backgrounds and social positions in the public schools. Half-grown children would come to class from the barricades, smelling of gunpowder, wearing the insignias and uniforms of rebel officers captured at gunpoint in inconclusive battles, and carrying their regulation weapons in full view at their waists. They shot each other over disagreements in the play-grounds, they threatened the teachers if they received low grades on examinations, and one of them, a third-year student at La Salle Academy and a retired colonel in the militia, shot and killed Brother Juan Eremita, Prefect of the Community, because he said in catechism class that God was a full-fledged member of the Conservative Party.

 

After dinner, at five o’clock, the crew distributed folding canvas cots to the passengers, and each person opened his bed wherever he could find room, arranged it with the bedclothes from his petate, and set the mosquito netting over that. Those with hammocks hung them in the salon, and those who had nothing slept on the tablecloths that were not changed more than twice during the trip.

 

If anything vexed her, it was the perpetual chain of daily meals.
For they not only had to be served on time: they had to be perfect, and they had to be just what he wanted to eat, without his having to be asked. If she ever did ask, in one innumerable useless ceremonies of their domestic ritual, he would not even look up from the newspaper and he would reply: "Anything." In his amiable way he was telling the truth, because one could not imagine a less despotic husband. But when it was time to eat, it could not be anything, but just what he wanted, and with no defects: the meat should not taste of meat, and the fish should not taste of fish, and the pork should not taste of mange, and the chicken should not taste of feathers.

 

She would walk through the kitchen at any hour, whenever she was hungry, and put her fork in the pots and eat a little of everything without placing anything on a plate, standing in front of the stove, talking to the serving women, who were the only ones with whom she felt comfortable, the ones she got along with best.

Read my review of Love in the Time of Cholera

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Title: My Name is Red

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Date published: 1998 (2001 in English)

Number of pages: 413

My rating: 8/10 (a vibrant, amusing yet serious novel)

My Name is Red, a novel by the Nobel prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, takes place in the sixteenth century in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s a novel about how art is acknowledged by a religious viewpoint.

The story begins when the miniaturist (painter) Elegant Effendi is murdered and dumped in a well after challenging one of his co-workers about the book The Sultan has assigned upon them which shows his glory. The work is to be rendered in the European style, which can be dangerous because that type of art is considered blasphemous.

Each chapter is narrated by different characters with different perspectives, including themes such as the color Red, a coin, or figures in a painting.

Black is assigned to investigate the murder. The suspected miniaturists are Stork, Butterfly and Olive.

There is also a love story shrouded in the murder puzzle. Black is eager to reveal the murderer in order to prove to his uncle Enishte Effendi that he is worthy of his Effendi’s daughter, Shekure. Although he had loved her a long time ago, she has been married to an unloving fighter whom she considers (without documented evidence) dead in the war; she is raising two young sons alone.

One of the memorable and witty characters is Esther, the inquisitive Jewish clothier who sends and receives letters between the lovers. Although she is trusted for her illiteracy, she always asks her confidant to read her the letters and is therefore informed on the latest news.

What makes this novel very tricky and devious is that the man responsible for the murder of Elegant Effendi narrates – in separate chapters – 2 sides of his identity: as a murderer and as Stork, Butterfly or Olive; however he is cautious not to reveal his identity to the reader.

In the story, there are vivid recollections of the exquisite tales of the Ottomans, including the story of Husrev and Shirin. There are rich depictions of famous paintings even though you don’t actually see them.

Also in the book, Pamuk includes the many conflicts surrounding art in My Name is Red. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006.

Buy at amazon

Orhan Pamuk’s website

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Buy the book at Amazon


After impatiently reading the last pages, I’ve finally finished Love in the Time of Cholera.

The story begins with the accidental death of Dr. Juvenal Urbino, the husband of a woman named Fermina Daza.
Read my review of One Hundred Years of Solitude, by the same author.

 

Then it switches back to the past, when Fermina is a young teenage girl who keenly falls in love with Florentino Ariza, a telegraph boy, and soon their correspondence with each other through letters becomes an obsession.

But when Fermina Daza unexpectedly marries the prestigious and wealth doctor, Juvenal Urbino, Florentino is devastated, but has a strong will to wait for the death of the doctor.

After fifty-one years, nine months, and four days of patience and long-suffering for Florentino, Dr Juvenal Urbino is finally dead. Florentino and Fermina are now in their seventies. Will Florentino be able to win back Fermina’s heart again?

Right from the first page to the last, I’ve been absorbed into Marquez’s captivating world of love, devotion and wit.

Not only does he make you eager to know what will happen to the two lovers in the end, but he will lure you into his magical world of brilliant, unique imagination.

Through his humane stories and characters, Gabriel Garcia Marquez again proves to be a master storyteller.

I’ve read three books of his now, and I think he’s the most talented and powerful writer ever.
I am sure you will treasure this book as much as I have.

I am also looking forward to watching the 2007 movie adaptation

of Love in the Time of Cholera.

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