Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Library Loot (30 June 2009)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

With my parents' arrival tonight, I'm not too sure how much reading I can do in the two weeks that they're here. But I still hit the library anyway, and got some pretty good reads.

The Bradbury Chronicles - Sam Weller
And here's a very apt quote about from Bradbury in that recent NYT article:
“Libraries raised me,” Mr. Bradbury said. “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
Accomplished journalist Sam Weller met the Ray Bradbury while writing a cover story for the Chicago Tribune Magazine and spent hundreds of hours interviewing Bradbury, his editors, family members, and longtime friends. With unprecedented access to private archives, he uncovered never–before–published letters, documents, and photographs that help tell the story of this literary genius and his remarkable creative journey. The result is a richly textured, detailed biography that illuminates the origins and accomplishments of Bradbury's fascinating mind.
Into the Beautiful North - Luis Alberto Urrea
Having loved The Hummingbird's Daughter, I am looking forward to this one.
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the US to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village — they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men — her own Siete Magnificos — to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.

Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom, Topsy, Sambo, Simon Legree, little Eva: their names are American bywords, and all of them are characters in Harriet Beecher Stowe's remarkable novel of the pre-Civil War South. Uncle Tom's Cabin was revolutionary in 1852 for its passionate indictment of slavery and for its presentation of Tom, "a man of humanity," as the first black hero in American fiction. Labeled racist and condescending by some contemporary critics, it remains a shocking, controversial, and powerful work — exposing the attitudes of white nineteenth-century society toward "the peculiar institution" and documenting, in heartrending detail, the tragic breakup of black Kentucky families "sold down the river." An immediate international sensation, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the first year, was translated into thirty-seven languages, and has never gone out of print: its political impact was immense, its emotional influence immeasurable.
Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri
Another one that I've been waiting forever for. And today I found two copies.
These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.
See more Library Loot here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

La Perdida by Jessica Abel

La Perdida starts out with Carla, an American in her early 20s, heading to Mexico to search for her Mexican roots (her estranged father is Mexican). She crashes with her rich ex-boyfriend, who socializes mostly with other expats, and ends up falling out with him. And meets some locals (mostly lowlifes), including wannabe DJ Oscar with no turntable, who becomes her boyfriend. But Carla is so determined to experience the real Mexico that she doesn't see the quicksand she is slowly sinking in until it reaches her eyeballs .

It was hard to sympathize with Carla who was essentially walking around with blinders on. I wanted to shake her constantly, especially since there were so many red lights going off about her so-called friends. But I must say, it was a rather engrossing read, and I definitely enjoyed the expressive black and white drawings, which spoke volumes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Read: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

When it comes to the movie vs book fight, the book inevitably wins. Sometimes I am even hesitant to go see a movie when I loved reading the book. Recently though, I have been proved wrong, with Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road translating remarkably well to the screen.

In the case of Coraline, I saw the wonderful 3-D version earlier on in the year, and only managed to get hold of a copy of the book from the library last week. The movie was gorgeous and absolutely enchanting (although a little creepy). And likewise the book. Of course, I already had the images of the film in my mind when I was devouring it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Read: Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland

"What would this ang moh know about Southeast Asian cuisine?" Was the thought that immediately popped into my head when I saw James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. So I had to find out for myself.

And actually he knows a lot. And taught me a lot too. (Here I have to add that while I may be familiar with eating my country's food and some of it's neighbours', I don't know much about cooking it. My rendang for example, comes (ahem!) out of a packet). Plus Oseland has pretty stellar credentials. He's been editor-in-chief of Saveur since 2006 and teaches cooking classes at New York’s Institute for Culinary Education.

His love affair began when he was just a 19-year-old student in the 1980s. An Indonesian classmate invites him to stay with her family in Jakarta. He ended up traveling in Indonesia for a year. His travels have included stops in Malaysia and Singapore. While I despair at the way he makes the occasional sweeping statement about these three similar but oh so very different nations, he does provide an apt introduction to their cuisines and a translation of traditional ingredients into what's available in the western market. For me, that was the most useful section - the ingredients needed, their possible substitutes, and more importantly, how to store them, which I'm always a bit confused by. I have yet to attempt any of his recipes but they seem to be doable, and are of a nice variety (for instance, he has several recipes for sambal, including a lemongrass sambal from Bali, which sounds really yummy). The best cookbooks are the ones that not only make me hungry but also provide a personal account of the author's love for food. And Cradle of Flavor works well on both accounts.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Read: The Sushi Economy by Sasha Issenberg

Sushi as we know it is very much an invention of the late twentieth century, in particular the flows of money, power, people, and culture that define the era's interconnectedness.

Nearly every business across the world has been in some way affected by the currents of global capitalism, but in few places are the complex dynamics of globalization revealed as visibly as in the tuna's journey from the sea to the sushi bar.

In The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy, Sasha Issenberg traces the evolution of sushi. Before the 16th century, the rice used to ferment fish was usually scraped off and thrown away. But what we know as sushi today has its origins in 19th century Edo. Sushi was then produced by having cooked rice topped with a piece of fish sitfor 2 to 3 hours. An impatient hawker didn't want to wait and invented the process of molding the pieces on the spot and serving immediately. That became the trend in Edo and sushi was prepared with ingredients such as whitebait, tuna and eel. Wasabi was first used when serving fish heavy in toxins.

In the second section, Issenberg investigates the sushi economy, or more specifically, the tuna sushi economy. He profiles fishermen on the hunt for Boston bluefin; 'tuna cowboys', ranching the fish in Port Lincoln, Australia (and making millions). And then there's "The Raw and the Crooked", where Issenberg hits the trail looking for pirates, launderers and tuna's black market (which was rather boring). I was more interested in the stories of two restaurateurs, one famous (Nobu Matsuhisa), and the other not (Tyson Cole who owns a sushi restaurant in Austin, Texas).

The Sushi Economy is a decent enough read. As someone who adores sushi, I loved learning about the history of sushi. But I had to wonder about a book about the globalisation of sushi that writes about Singaporean diners feasting on "curry rolls and Hainanese chicken-rice rolls, often in halal sushi bars catering to the small nation's increasingly wealthy Malaysian Muslim population". Erm, what? No I don't think so. I only moved to the US from Singapore in January, but never have I come across a curry sushi roll or a Hainanese chicken rice roll. Further, Issenberg doesn't quite analyze globalization or economics as focus on character profiles, so the title is rather misleading.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nasi Lemak and Beef Rendang

When you can't get it, you have to try to make your own. Although not lemak enough.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Finds (June 19 2009)

Friday Finds is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (via The Dewey Divas and The Dudes)
February by Lisa Moore (via KevinfromCanada)
Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler (via Asylum)
The English Stories by Cynthia Flood (via Biblioasis)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Library Loot (18 June 2009)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

I'm incredibly pleased with the variety I lugged back from the library today, which includes non-fiction, classics, graphic novels.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Yes the movie was seen ages ago, but I haven't managed to get hold of a copy of the book until today! Delighted!
When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Nothing To Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone by Mary Morris
I have never traveled alone, unlike the very brave DSD, but this sounds like such a great travelogue.
Traveling from the highland desert of northern Mexico to the steaming jungles of Honduras to the seashore of the Caribbean, Mary Morris confronts the realities of place, of poverty, of machismo, and of self.
Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Another score today at the library, which always had the other volumes of the Sandman series during my previous visits, just not the first one.
Preludes and Nocturnes is the first volume in the story of The Sandman.

Morpheus, the King of Dreams, has been held prisoner for 75 years by a wealthy madman. The world has suffered in his absence. Regaining his freedom, Morpheus must restore his deteriorated realm, The Dreaming, and recover his power, much of which resides in three stolen tools: his pouch, helmet, and ruby.

La Perdida by Jessica Abel
Of course I couldn't help browsing the shelf of graphic novels, and this caught my eye.
From the Harvey and Lulu award–winning creator of Artbabe comes this riveting story of a young woman’s misadventures in Mexico City. Carla, an American estranged from her Mexican father, heads to Mexico City to “find herself.” She crashes with a former fling, Harry, who has been drinking his way through the capital in the great tradition of his heroes, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Harry is good—humored about Carla’s reappearance on his doorstep—until he realizes that Carla, who spends her days soaking in the city, exploring Frida Kahlo’s house, and learning Spanish, has no intention of leaving.

When Harry and Carla’s relationship of mutual tolerance reaches its inevitable end, she rejects his world of Anglo expats for her own set of friends: pretty-boy Oscar, who sells pot and dreams of being a DJ, and charismatic Memo, a left-wing, pseudo–intellectual ladies’ man. Determined to experience the real Mexico, Carla turns a blind eye to her new friends’ inconsistencies. But then she catches the eye of a drug don, el Gordo, and from that moment on her life gets a lot more complicated, and she is forced to confront the irreparable consequences of her willful innocence.

Jessica Abel’s evocative black–and–white drawings and creative mix of English and Spanish bring Mexico City’s past and present to life, unfurling Carla’s dark history against the legacies of Burroughs and Kahlo. A story about the youthful desire to live an authentic life and the consequences of trusting easy answers, La Perdida–at once grounded in the particulars of life in Mexico and resonantly universal–is a story about finding oneself by getting lost.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
The delirious 1925 Jazz-Age classic that no less an authority than Edith Wharton called "the great American novel." If any American fictional character of the twentieth century seems likely to be immortal, it is Lorelei Lee of Little Rock, Arkansas, the not-so-dumb blonde who knew that diamonds are a girl's best friend. Outrageous, charming, and unforgettable, she's been portrayed on stage and screen by Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe and has become the archetype of the footloose, good-hearted gold digger, with an insatiable appetite for orchids, champagne, and precious stones. Here are her "diaries," created by Anita Loos in the Roaring Twenties, as Lorelei and her friend Dorothy barrel across Europe meeting everyone from the Prince of Wales to "Doctor Froyd" — and then back home again to marry a Main Line millionaire and become a movie star. In this delightfully droll and witty book, Lorelei Lee's wild antics, unique outlook, and imaginative way with language shine.
The Engagement by Georges Simenon
On the outskirts of Paris, a prostitute is found murdered in a vacant lot. In a seedy apartment house nearby lives pasty, fat Mr. Hire. Mr. Hire, who earns his living through a petty postal scam, is a convicted pornographer, a peeping Tom, and, once a week, the unlikely star of a Parisian bowling club, where people think he works for the police. He is a faceless man of regular habits who keeps to himself and gives his neighbors the creeps. After the murder, Mr. Hire's concierge points a finger at him: he was out late the night of the crime. The police have the suspect under 24-hour surveillance. They are only waiting for him to make the inevitable mistake and give himself away. Except that creepy Mr. Hire is in fact an innocent man, whose only mistake is to have fallen head-over-heels in love with the wrong girl. One of the most chilling and compassionate of Simenon's extraordinary psychological novels, The Engagement explores the mystery of a blameless heart in a compromised soul.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future. As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I rewatched Young Frankenstein last week, and then thought that it's high time I read the book.
Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turnsto evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
More library loot here.

Summer Salad

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
With a strawberry and spinach salad.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes

Have you ever read a book that, although well written, you just can't possibly read?

That book for me is Julian Barnes' Arthur and George. It started out really well, as the boys grow up in the 19th century - in Edinburgh and Staffordshire respectively. Arthur eventually becomes that very famous Arthur and his very famous detective creation. George, now a solicitor, unfortunately gets some notoriety of his own as he is accused of a horrible crime.

And that is the part that got to me. As I read the accusations last night, I was angry, I was worked up. I had to stop reading otherwise I would never be able to sleep. I flipped through the book, wondering if all that would ever end. And page after page after page... until I reached the part where Arthur and George meet. However, by that time, I wasn't sure if I could read anymore.

Arthur and George is a great book, don't get me wrong. It is a very masterful writer who can have a reader so sucked into the book that she feels emotionally attached to the characters (and as a result, incredibly agitated by said accusations). But for my sanity and my ability to sleep at night, I am putting this one to rest, only half-read.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day of Empire by Amy Chua

In a little over two centuries, America has grown from a regional power to a superpower, and to what is today called a hyperpower. But can America retain its position as the world’s dominant power, or has it already begun to decline?

Historians have debated the rise and fall of empires for centuries. To date, however, no one has studied the far rarer phenomenon of hyperpowers—those few societies that amassed such extraordinary military and economic might that they essentially dominated the world.

Now, in this sweeping history of globally dominant empires, bestselling author Amy Chua explains how hyperpowers rise and why they fall. In a series of brilliantly focused chapters, Chua examines history’s hyperpowers—Persia, Rome, Tang China, the Mongols, the Dutch, the British, and the United States—and reveals the reasons behind their success, as well as the roots of their ultimate demise.

Chua first qualifies what she means by a "world-dominant power". "Its power clearly surpasses that of all it's known contemporaneous rivals; it is not clearly inferior in economic or military strength to any other power on the planet, known to it or not; and it projects its
power over so immense an area of the globe and over so immense a population that it breaks the bounds of mere local or even regional preeminence." The book emphasizes tolerance, that is, allowing different peoples to "live, work and prosper in your society - even if only for
instrumental or strategic reasons." she argues that tolerance is "a necessary condition for world dominance".

Day of Empire was the perfect book for me. Having only a scanty knowledge of world history (in school we focused on the histories of Singapore and Thailand), I was looking for something that would give me a concise rundown (well to the extent of the limits of her thesis) of the empires of the world - Rome, China, Britain etc. Chua's argument is coherent and is easy to understand, as is her writing. Simply put, I learnt quite a bit from this book, and would highly recommend it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Feathered Serpent by Xu Xiaobin

"What is the difference between past and present? In many ways, the present is simply a new version of ancient history."
Thus in Xu Xiaobin’s Feathered Serpent, a family saga of five generations, the tales of the women of this family blend and bleed into each other, along with the different periods of China’s changing history. Feathered Serpent tells of relationships that are uneasy, that are uncomfortable. It is a story of family misery in a greatly evolving China – from the late 19th century under the Empress Dowager Cixi to life under Mao Zedong in Communist China – and the despairing struggles that Yushe and the five generations of her family go through. As Xu, who grew up during the Cultural Revolution, explains in her preface, “Even though the Chinese people have the ability to forget, all of these things that have happened are deeply carved into the memory of the heroine of this book, and into the minds of countless people of the same generation.”

Xu’s heroine is Yushe, whose name means Feathered Serpent and who belongs to the fourth generation of her family. Yu, as she is known, grows up under the despotic rule of her grandmother, Xuanming, as well as her wretched, self-obsessed mother, Ruomu, who is suspicious and jealous of everyone around her. At the age of six, Yu, “the frailest but most resilient of branches,” kills her baby brother, and whatever chance she had to be loved by her family is killed along with him, thus beginning her lifelong quest for love and acceptance: "Since childhood she had been longing for love - the love of her parents; later, the love of friends. Only love and friendship would be good medicine; nothing else could bring zest to her life."

The reader is meant to sympathize with Yu and her painful journey through life but is hindered by the labyrinthine narrative, as Feathered Serpent is not laid out in a linear fashion but jumps back and forth and back and forth again in time, from character to character, from third to first-person point of view.

There is even an awkward moment when the author points the reader to an earlier chapter, offering a numbered signpost to a character mentioned early on in the story. And when one character asked another: "Why are you confused? Are you getting old and losing your memory?" I could empathize, lost as I was among the changing narrative and different points of view. It was only after finishing the book that I realized the back pages had a table listing the different generations and characters of the family. Neither does the translation help much. While the language is clear enough, it lacks luster, and as a result, tends to bog this complex book down.

In this world where “nearly all beautiful women live ill-fated lives,” Xu picks her way through Yushe’s family as it gradually disintegrates. Feathered Serpent is a bleak tale of tales, of unhappy women in an unhappy family, but it is ultimately let down by the flat language and confusing narrative.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book

Friday, June 12, 2009

Want to Read (12 June 2009)

With a huge to-be-read list, should I really be adding more books? A logical person would say, no. But I am an addict. So here are some great finds for a gloomy Friday.

The Driftless Area - Tom Drury (via Citizen Reader)
The Blue Fox - Sjón (via Me and My Big Mouth)
In The United States of Africa - Abdourahman Waberi (via Laila Lalami)
Mother, Come Home - Paul Hornschemeier (via Largehearted Boy)

Edited to include:
The Blood of Strangers: Stories from Emergency Medicine by Frank Huyler
Here At The New Yorker by Brendan Gill
(both via Michael Ruhlman)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Library Loot (11 June 2009)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

A visit to the library never fails to brighten my day, especially when it's a cloudy one.

Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai
Set in India's Old Delhi, Clear Light of Day is Anita Desai's tender, warm, and compassionate novel about family scars, the ability to forgive and forget, and the trials and tribulations of familial love. At the novel's heart are the moving relationships between the members of the Das family, who have grown apart from each other. Bimla is a dissatisfied but ambitious teacher at a women's college who lives in her childhood home, where she cares for her mentally challenged brother, Baba. Tara is her younger, unambitious, estranged sister, married and with children of her own. Raja is their popular, brilliant, and successful brother. When Tara returns for a visit with Bimla and Baba, old memories and tensions resurface and blend into a domestic drama that is intensely beautiful and leads to profound self-understanding.
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
The dreamlike action of this masterful narrative begins among the decaying plantations of late-nineteenth-century Jamaica. It then moves to the high seas, as Richard Hughes tells the story of a group of children thrown upon the mercy of down-at-the-heels pirates. A tale of seduction and betrayal, of weird humor and unforeseen violence, this twentieth-century classic is an unequaled exploration of the nature, and limits, of innocence.
The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy by Sasha Issenberg
Oh I could do with some sushi right now.
Jumping from Mediterranean docks to the multimillion-dollar tuna auctions of Japanese fish markets, "The Sushi Economy" traces sushi's journey from Tokyo street snack to global delicacy
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
(Instead of a synopsis, here's Alexander McCall Smith on Barbara Pym)
I've heard plenty of good about Barbara Pym's work so I'm looking forward to this one, which if I'm not wrong is on The Guardian's 1000 list.

Caprial's Soups & Sandwiches by Caprial Pence
Mmmm... soups.

Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia by James Oseland
I'm curious to see what he knows about Singapore.
Oseland offers readers home cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, the Nyonya dishes of Singapore and Malaysia, and the fiery specialties of West Sumatra and Java. Includes a helpful glossary (illustrated in color in one of the picture sections) of all the ingredients needed and where and how to buy them

See more Library Loot here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Links

Here's what I've added to my Google Reader lately:

Cute as can be... My Milk Toof (via)

Alas, Readerville is no more, so I'll just have to follow Karen Templer at... collapse and delight

A voracious reader ....1330v

A Stay At Stove Dad

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson

While I enjoyed the first volume (The Pox Party), the second, The Kingdom on the Waves, wore me out. It wasn't so much an issue of the language, although a couple of letters (not by Octavian) I had
to skip over, the broken language being a bit too much for bedtime reading. I reckon it was the focus on the war and the fighting, which I didn't really care for. Yes, Octavian discovers more about himself, his heritage and background, but I wanted it all to end asap. And so with too many books and too little time, I retired from reading Octavian Nothing. And moved onto something far more entertaining, Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Booker

Kimbofo over at Reading Matters put together this list of books shortlisted for the Booker Prize. And since I can't resist lists, here it is:
(I've bolded the ones I've read)

Of the 224 listed, I've read 43 (with another 3 borrowed from the library just this week).

A Bend in the River - V.S. Naipaul 1979
A Disaffection - James Kelman 1989
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry 1996
A Five-Year Sentence - Bernice Rubens 1978
A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz 2008
A Long Long Way - Sebastian Barry 2005
A Month in the Country - J.L. Carr 1980
According to Mark - Penelope Lively 1984
Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood 1996
Amongst Women - John McGahern 1990
Amsterdam - Ian McEwan 1998 Winner
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro 1986
An Awfully Big Adventure - Beryl Bainbridge 1990
An Ice-Cream War - William Boyd 1982
An Instant in the Wind - Andre Brink 1976
An Insular Possession - Timothy Mo 1986
Animal's People - Indra Sinha 2007
Anthills of the Savannah - Chinua Achebe 1987
Arthur & George - Julian Barnes 2005 (just borrowed this)
Astonishing Splashes of Colour - Clare Morrall 2003
Atonement - Ian McEwan 2001
Beside the Ocean of Time - George Mackay Brown 1994
Bird of Night - Susan Hill 1972
Black Dogs - Ian McEwan 1992
Breakfast on Pluto - Patrick McCabe 1998
Brick Lane - Monica Ali 2003
Briefing for a Descent into Hell - Doris Lessing 1971
Bruno's Dream - Iris Murdoch 1970
Carry Me Down - M.J. Hyland 2006
Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood 1989
Chatterton - Peter Ackroyd 1987
Circles of Deceit - Nina Bawden 1987
Clear Light of Day - Anita Desai 1980
Confederates - Thomas Keneally 1979
Constance or Solitary Practices - Lawrence Durrell1982
Crossing the River - Caryl Phillips 1993
Darkmans - Nicola Barker 2007
Daughters of the House - Michele Roberts 1992
Dirt Music - Tim Winton 2002
Disgrace - J.M. Coetzee 1999 Winner
Earthly Powers - Anthony Burgess 1980
Empire of the Sun - J.G. Ballard 1984
Ending Up - Kingsley Amis 1974
England England - Julian Barnes 1998
English Passengers - Matthew Kneale 2000
Europa - Tim Parks 1997
Eva Trout - Elizabeth Bowen 1970
Every Man for Himself - Beryl Bainbridge 1996
Family Matters - Rohinton Mistry 2002
Fasting, Feasting - Anita Desai 1999
Figures in a Landscape - Barry England 1969
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters 2002 (just borrowed this)
Flaubert's Parrot - Julian Barnes 1984
Flying to Nowhere - John Fuller 1983
From Scenes Like These - G.M. Williams 1969
G - John Berger 1972 Winner
Gabriel's Lament - Paul Bailey 1986
God on the Rocks - Jane Gardam1978
Good Behaviour - Molly Keane 1981
Goshawk Squadron - Derek Robinson 1971
Gossip from the Forest - Thomas Keneally 1975
Grace Notes - Bernard MacLaverty 1997
Great Granny Webster - Caroline Blackwood 1977
Headlong - Michael Frayn 1999
Heat and Dust - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala 1975 Winner (just borrowed this)
Holiday - Stanley Middleton 1974 Winner
Hotel du Lac - Anita Brookner 1984 Winner
Hotel World - Ali Smith 2001
How Late It Was, How Late - James Kelman 1994 Winner
Illywhacker - Peter Carey 1985
Impossible Object - Nicholas Mosley 1969
In a Free State - V.S. Naipaul 1971 Winner
In Custody - Anita Desai 1984
In Every Face I Meet - Justin Cartwright 1995
In the Country of Men - Hisham Matar 2006
In Their Wisdom - C.P. Snow 1974
Jake's Thing - Kingsley Amis 1978
Jigsaw - an Unsentimental Education - Sybille Bedford 1989
John Brown's Body - A.L. Barker 1970
Joseph - Julian Rathbone 1979
King Fisher Lives - Julian Rathbone 1976
Knowledge of Angels - Jill Paton Walsh 1994
Last Letters from Hav - Jan Morris 1985
Last Orders - Graham Swift 1996 Winner
Lies of Silence - Brian Moore 1990
Life and Times of Michael K. - J.M. Coetzee 1983 Winner
Life of Pi - Yann Martel 2002 Winner
Loitering with Intent - Murial Spark 1981
Master Georgie - Beryl Bainbridge 1998
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie 1981 Winner
Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones 2007
Moon Tiger - Penelope Lively 1987 Winner
Morality Play - Barry Unsworth 1995
Mother's Milk - Edward St Aubyn 2006
Mrs Eckdorf in O'Neill's Hotel - William Trevor 1970
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont - Elizabeth Taylor 1971
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro 2005
Nice Work - David Lodge 1988
No Country for Young Men - Julia O'Faolain 1980
Notes on a Scandal - Zoe Heller 2003
number9dream - David Mitchell 2001
Offshore - Penelope Fitzgerald 1979 Winner
On Beauty - Zadie Smith 2005
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan 2007
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood 2003
Oscar and Lucinda - Peter Carey 1988 Winner
Our Fathers - Andrew O'Hagan 1999
Oxygen - Andrew Miller 2001
Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha - Roddy Doyle 1993 Winner
Paradise - Abdulrazak Gumah 1994
Pascali's Island - Barry Unsworth 1980
Pasmore - David Storey 1972
Peter Smart's Confessions - Paul Bailey 1977
Possession - A.S. Byatt 1990 Winner
Praxis - Fay Weldon 1979
Quarantine - Jim Crace 1997
Quartet in Autumn - Barbara Pym 1977
Rates of Exchange - Malcolm Bradbury 1983
Reading in the Dark - Seamus Deane 1996
Reading Turgenev - William Trevor 1991
Reef - Romesh Gunesekera 1994
Remembering Babylon - David Malouf 1993
Restoration - Rose Tremain 1989
Rhine Journey - Ann Schlee 1981
Rising - R.C. Hutchison 1976
Rites of Passage - Wlliam Golding 1980 Winner
Rumours of Rain - Andre Brink 1978
Sacred Hunger - Barry Unsworth 1992 Winner
Saville - David Storey 1976 Winner
Scar Tissue - Michael Ignatieff 1993
Schindler's Ark - Thomas Keneally 1982 Winner
Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh 2008
Serenity House - Christopher Hope 1992
Shadows on Our Skin - Jennifer Johnston 1977
Shame - Salman Rushdie 1983
Silence Amongst the Weapons - John Arden 1982
Small World - David Lodge 1984
Solomon Gursky Was Here - Mordecai Richler 1990
Something to Answer For - P.H. Newby 1969 Winner
Sour Sweet - Timothy Mo 1982
St. Urbain's Horseman - Mordecai Richler 1971
Staying On - Paul Scott 1977 Winner
Such a Long Journey - Rohinton Mistry 1991
The 27th Kingdom - Alice Thomas Ellis 1982
The Accidental - Ali Smith 2005
The Battle of Pollocks Crossing - J.L. Carr 1985
The Beggar Maid - Alice Munro 1980
The Beginning of Spring - Penelope Fitzgerald 1988
The Big Chapel - Thomas Kilroy 1971
The Black Prince - Iris Murdoch 1973
The Blackwater Lightship - Colm Tóibín 1999
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood 2000 Winner
The Bone People - Keri Hulme 1985 Winner
The Book and the Brotherhood - Iris Murdoch 1987
The Book of Evidence - John Banville 1989
The Bookshop - Penelope Fitzgerald 1978
The Bottle Factory Outing - Beryl Bainbridge 1974
The Butcher Boy - Patrick McCabe 1992
The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith - Thomas Keneally 1972
The Children of Dynmouth - William Trevor 1976
The Clothes on Their Backs - Linda Grant 2008
The Colour of Blood - Brian Moore 1987
The Comfort of Strangers - Ian McEwan 1981
The Conjunction - T. W. Wheeler 1970
The Conservationist - Nadine Gordimer 1974 Winner
The Dark Room - Rachel Seiffert 2001
The Deposition of Father McGreevy - Brian O'Doherty 2000
The Doctor's Wife - Brian Moore 1976
The Dressmaker - Beryl Bainbridge 1973
The Elected Member - Bernice Rubens 1970 Winner
The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje 1992 Winner
The Essence of the Thing - Madeleine St John 1997
The Famished Road - Ben Okri 1991 Winner
The Folding Star - Alan Hollinghurst 1994
The Gate of Angels - Penelope Fitzgerald 1990
The Gathering - Anne Enright 2007 Winner
The Ghost Road - Pat Barker 1995 Winner
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy 1997 Winner
The Good Apprentice - Iris Murdoch 1985
The Good Doctor - Damon Galgut 2003
The Good Terrorist - Doris Lessing 1985
The Green Equinox - Elizabeth Mavor 1973
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood 1986
The Hiding Place - Trezza Azzopardi 2000
The Illusionist - Anita Mason 1983
The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai 2006 Winner
The Keepers of Truth - Michael Collins 2000
The Lost Father - Marina Warner 1988
The Map of Love - Adhaf Soueif 1999
The Moor's Last Sigh - Salman Rushdie 1995
The Nice and the Good - Iris Murdoch 1969
The Night Watch - Sarah Waters 2006
The Northern Clemency - Philip Hensher 2008
The Old Devils - Kingsley Amis 1986 Winner
The Orchard on Fire - Shena Mckay 1996
The Public Image - Muriel Spark 1969
The Redundancy of Courage - Timothy Mo 1991
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Moshin Hamid 2007
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro 1989 Winner
The Restraint of Beasts - Magnus Mills 1998
The Riders - Tim Winton 1995
The Road to Lichfield - Penelope Lively 1977
The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie 1988
The Sea - John Banville 2005 Winner
The Sea, The Sea - Iris Murdoch 1978 Winner
The Secret Scripture - Sebastian Barry 2008
The Secret River - Kate Grenville 2006
The Siege of Krishnapur - J.G. Farrell 1973 Winner
The Sirian Experiments - Doris Lessing 1981
The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields 1993
The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor 2002
The Underground Man - Mick Jackson 1997
The Van - Robby Doyle 1991
The White Hotel - D.M. Thomas 1981
The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga 2008 Winner
Time's Arrow - Martin Amis 1991
True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey 2001 Winner
Under the Frog - Tibor Fischer 1993
Unless - Carol Shields 2002
Utz - Bruce Chatwin 1988
Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre 2003 Winner
Waterland - Graham Swift 1983
What's Bred in the Bone - Robertson Davies 1986
When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro 2000

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Vagrants by Yiyun Li

Brilliant and illuminating, this astonishing debut novel by the award-winning writer Yiyun Li is set in China in the late 1970s, when Beijing was rocked by the Democratic Wall Movement, an anti-Communist groundswell designed to move China beyond the dark shadow of the Cultural Revolution toward a more enlightened and open society. In this powerful and beautiful story, we follow a group of people in a small town during this dramatic and harrowing time, the era that was a forebear of the Tiananmen Square uprising.

I first heard of Yiyun Li last year when I went to see Wayne Wang's film 'A Thousand Years of Good Prayers' at the Singapore International Film Festival. The film was so-so, but at the Q&A session with the director, a question was asked about Li's short story that the film was based on. It sounded interesting enough (and books tend to be better than films) so I picked it up from the local library, and the stories in this collection were not too bad, but neither did they really stick with me.

So I was surprised by her novel, The Vagrants, a moving tale about an ensemble of characters, of the little people and their thoughts, wishes, dreams. Among the stories are those of Bashi, the outcast who is obssessed with girls but ends up falling in love; Tong, a boy who cries for his lost dog and dreams of being a Young Pioneer; Nini, the disfigured girl spurned by her family, who treats her as their maid. The only real 'vagrants' are Mr and Mrs Hua, who used to roam from village to village, sifting through the garbage, and looking after abandoned baby girls.

Why is it that their stories, so unsettling, so bleak, can be so absorbing? The book revolves around the public denunciation, at which schoolchildren are in attendance, of Gu Shan, and her execution. There is such unhappiness, loneliness and pain in Muddy River, and I felt this sense of unease when reading it. Yet somehow the book manages to shines through with its human spirit, its candor and its heart.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Library Loot (3 June 2009)

Heat and Dust - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
The winner of the 1975 Booker Prize.
Set in India, Heat and Dust is the story of Olivia, a beautiful, spoiled, bored English colonial wife in the 1920s who is drawn inexorably into the spell of the Nawab, a minor Indian prince deeply involved in plots and intrigues. Olivia outrages the tiny, suffocating town where her husband is a civil servant by eloping with the captivating Nawab. It is also the story of Olivia's step-granddaughter who, fifty years later, is drawn to India by her fascination with the letters left behind by the now dead older woman, and by her obsession with solving the enigma of Olivia's scandal. A penetrating and compassionate love story, this brilliant novel immerses the reader in the heat, dust, and squalor of India, while providing a compelling mixture of the spiritual and the sensual.
Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
I would never have heard of this book if not for the many book blogs I read using Google Reader.
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.
Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance and Why They Fail - Amy Chua
I'm not doing too good in my bid to read more non-fiction. As you can see, most of my loot doesn't belong to that section. But I'm looking forward to this one, having read Amy Chua's World on Fire a couple of years ago.
In a little over two centuries, America has grown from a regional power to a superpower, and to what is today called a hyperpower. But can America retain its position as the world’s dominant power, or has it already begun to decline?
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Leaving behind a world on the brink of destruction, man came to the Red planet and found the Martians waiting, dreamlike. Seeking the promise of a new beginning, man brought with him his oldest fears and his deepest desires. Man conquered Mars — and in that instant, Mars conquered him. The strange new world with its ancient, dying race and vast, red-gold deserts cast a spell on him, settled into his dreams, and changed him forever. Here are the captivating chronicles of man and Mars — the modern classic by the peerless Ray Bradbury.
Arthur and George - Julian Barnes
Tym recommended this one earlier this year.

Searching for clues, no one would ever guess that the lives of Arthur and George might intersect. Growing up in shabby-genteel nineteenth-century Edinburgh, Arthur is saddled with a dad who is a disgrace and a mum he wishes to protect, and is propelled into a life of action. To his astonishment, his career as a self-made man of letters brings him riches and fame and, in the world at large, he becomes the perfect picture of the honourable English gentlemen.

George is irredeemably an outsider, and has no hope of becoming such a picture. Though he's dogged and logical, a vicar's son from rural Staffordshire, he is set apart, and he and his family are targeted in his boyhood by a poison-pen campaign. George finds safe harbour in the reliability of rules, and grows up to become a solicitor, putting his faith in the insulating value of British justice.

Then crisis upsets the uneasy equilibrium of both men's lives. Arthur is knocked for a loop by guilt and other dishonourable emotions. George is put to the sorest test, accused of a horrible crime. And from that point on their lives weave together in the most profound and surprising way, as each man becomes the other's salvation.

Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
I've never read anything by Sarah Waters, but have heard a lot of praise about her work, plus it's on The Guardian's 1000 booklist.
Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby's household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves — fingersmiths — for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives — Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud's vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of — passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways... But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics - Ina Garten
Back to Basics operates on a simple premise: use few ingredients, but use the best. Ina Garten encourages cooks to choose fresh herbs and seasonal produce to create simple, flavorful dishes. Plus, the photographs are as tantalizing as the recipes.
Maus II - Art Spiegelman
This second volume, subtitled And Here My Troubles Began, moves us from the barracks of Auschwitz to the bungalows of the Catskills. Genuinely tragic and comic by turns, it attains a complexity of theme and precision of thought new to comics and rare in any medium. Maus ties together two powerful stories: Vladek's harrowing tale of surviving against all odds, delineating the paradox of daily life in the death camps, and the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. At every level this is the ultimate survivor's tale — and that too of the children who somehow survive even the survivors.
Hellboy: Darkness Calls - Mike Mignola
I've been wanting to read a Hellboy comic, but this was the only one available. Well, better than nothing.
Hellboy has finally returned from his adventures at sea, but no sooner has he settled on land than a conclave of witches drags him from his respite and into the heart of Russian folklore, where he becomes the quarry of the powerful and bloodthirsty witch Baba Yaga. Bent on revenge for the eye she had lost to Hellboy, Baba Yaga has enlisted the aid of a deathless warrior who will stop at nothing to destroy Hellboy. Creator Mike Mignola turns over drawing duties to Duncan Fegredo (Enigma, Ultimate Adventures) for a new chapter in the life of the World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves - M.T. Anderson
This seems to be a day for Part Twos. This time, more Octavian Nothing.

Fearing a death sentence, Octavian and his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, escape through rising tides and pouring rain to find shelter in British-occupied Boston. Sundered from all he knows — the College of Lucidity, the rebel cause — Octavian hopes to find safe harbor. Instead, he is soon to learn of Lord Dunmore's proclamation offering freedom to slaves who join the counterrevolutionary forces.

In Volume II of his unparalleled masterwork, M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian's experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him, thrusting him into intense battles and tantalizing him with elusive visions of liberty. Ultimately, this astonishing narrative escalates to a startling, deeply satisfying climax, while reexamining our national origins in a singularly provocative light.

I'm definitely looking forward to these reads. What did you get from the library this week?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bonk by Mary Roach

Mary Roach is a master of the 'But wait, there's more!'

The end of a chapter is a natural place at which to leave a bookmark (or egads, dogear a page), a rest area to allow the reader to digest what's been read, to go make lunch or catch up on work. But no, everytime I reached the end of a chapter in Bonk, Roach has to throw in a last sentence like this: "And, if so, about how you convince someone to have sex in front of an ultrasound technician or inside an MRI tube." Now how can anyone place her bookmark right on that page and set the book down after reading that? A reader has no choice but to flip to the next chapter and read on. She is dastardly, that Mary Roach.

Like Stiff, Bonk isn't for the squeamish. As a fan of CSI, CSI: NY (but not CSI: Miami), I thought, eh, shouldn't be a problem for me. But I overestimated myself. There are parts which are quite cringe-y, and like Roach said, "I do so hope they wore lab glasses." However, there were more "haha"s than "eew"s, as Bonk is an incredibly fun book, even more so when read out loud (preferably not in public).

Monday, June 01, 2009

All the Orange you need

(via Stuck in a Book, put together by Kimbofo at Reading Matters)

While I don't agree that women need a separate book prize, I'm quite fond of longlists, as they point me to books and authors that I might not have heard of otherwise (my favourites being the fascinatingly long longlists of the Impac prize and the diverse non-fiction submissions over at the Kiriyama Prize).
Looks like I've read just 46 out of 260 Oranges.

A L Kennedy Everything You Need
A L Kennedy So I am Glad
Ajay Close Official and Doubtful
Ali Smith Hotel World - shortlist
Ali Smith The Accidental - shortlist
Alice Greenaway White Ghost Girls
Alice McDermott Charming Billy
Alice Sebold The Lovely Bones
Allegra Goodman Intuition
Amy Tan The Bonesetter's Daughter
Amy Tan The Hundred Secret Senses - shortlist
Andrea Barrett The Voyage of the Narwhal
Andrea Levy Never Far from Nowhere
Andrea Levy Small Island - winner
Anita Desai Fasting, Feasting
Anita Desai The Zigzag Way
Anita Rau Badami The Hero's Walk
Anita Shreve The Weight of Water - shortlist
Ann Patchett Bel Canto - winner
Ann Patchett The Magician's Assistant - shortlist
Ann Weisgarber's The Personal History of Rachel DuPree
Ann-Marie MacDonald Fall on your Knees
Anna Burns No Bones - shortlist
Anna Quindlen Black and Blue
Anne Donovan Buddha Da - shortlist
Anne Michaels Fugitive Pieces- winner
Anne Enright The Gathering
Anne Tyler Digging to America
Anne Tyler Ladder of Years - shortlist
Anne Tyler The Amateur Marriage
Audrey Niffenegger The Time Traveler's Wife
Barbara Ewing A Dangerous Vine
Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible - shortlist
Barbara Neil A History of Silence
Bella Bathurst Special
Bernadine Evaristo Blonde Roots
Beryl Bainbridge Every Man for Himself
Beryl Bainbridge Master Georgie
Carol Shields Larry's Party - winner
Carol Shields Unless- shortlist
Carrie Tiffany Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living - shortlist
Catherine Chidgey In a Fishbone Church
Catherine O’Flynn What Was Lost
Célestine Hitiura Vaite Frangipani
Charlotte Mendelson When We Were Bad
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Half of a Yellow Sun - winner
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Purple Hibiscus - shortlist
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni The Mistress of Spices
Chloe Hooper A Child's Book of True Crime - shortlist
Christina Koning Undiscovered Country
Christine Dwyer Hickey Tatty
Christine Pountney Last Chance Texaco
Clare Allan Poppy Shakespeare
Clare Clark The Great Stink
Cristina Garcia The Aguero Sisters
Crystal Wilkinson Water Street
Curtis Sittenfeld American Wife
Curtis Sittenfeld Prep
Danzy Senna From Caucasia, with Love
Deborah Robertson Careless
Debra Adelaide The Household Guide to Dying
Deirdre Madden One by One in the Darkness - shortlist
Deirdre Purcell Love Like Hate Adore - shortlist
Dinah Lee Küng A Visit from Voltaire
Donna Tartt The Little Friend - shortlist
Drusilla Modjeska The Orchard
E Annie Proulx Accordion Crimes - shortlist
Edna O’Brien In the Forest
Eilis Ni Dhuibhne The Dancers Dancing - shortlist
Elizabeth Knox The Vintner's Luck
Elizabeth McCracken Niagara Falls All Over Again
Elizabeth Strout Amy and Isabelle – shortlist
Ellen Feldman Scottsboro
Elspeth Sandys River Lines
Emma Richler Sister Crazy
Esther Freud Summer at
Esther Freud The Wild
Gail Jones Dreams of Speaking
Gillian Slovo Ice Road - shortlist
Gina B Nahai Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
Gina Ochsner The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight
Haven Kimmel The Solace of Leaving Early
Heather O’Neill Lullabies for Little Criminals
Helen DeWitt The Last Samurai
Helen Dunmore A Spell of Winter - winner
Helen Dunmore House of Orphans
Helen Dunmore The Siege - shortlist
Hilary Mantel Beyond Black - shortlist
Hilary Mantel The Giant O'Brien
Ingrid Hill Ursula, Under
Isla Dewar Keeping Up with Magda
Jackie Kay Trumpet
Jacquelyn Mitchard The Most Wanted
Jamaica Kincaid The Autobiography of My Mother
Jane Gardam Old Filth - shortlist
Jane Hamilton The Short History of a Prince - shortlist
Jane Harris The Observations - shortlist
Jane Mendelsohn I Was Amelia Earhart - shortlist
Jane Rogers Island
Jane Rogers Promised Lands
Jane Smiley Horse Heaven - shortlist
Jane Smiley Ten Days in the Hills
Jane Urquhart The Underpainter
Janet Davey English Correspondence
Jayne Ann Phillips Motherkind
Jeanette Winterson Gut Symmetries
Jeanette Winterson The PowerBook
Jennifer Clement A True Story Based on Lies
Jhumpa Lahiri The Namesake
Jill Dawson Fred & Edie - shortlist
Jill Dawson Watch Me Disappear
Jo-Ann Goodwin Danny Boy
Joan Brady Death Comes for Peter Pan
Joan Didion The Last Thing He Wanted
Joan London Gilgamesh
Joanne Harris Five Quarters of the Orange
Joolz Denby Billie Morgan - shortlist
Josephine Humphreys Nowhere Else on Earth
Joyce Carol Oates Middle Age
Joyce Carol Oates Rape A Love Story
Joyce Carol Oates The Falls
Judy Budnitz If I Told You Once - shortlist
Julia Blackburn The Book of Colour - shortlist
Julia Blackburn The Leper's Companions - shortlist
Julia Darling Crocodile Soup
Julia Leigh The Hunter
Julie Otsuka When the Emperor was Divine
Karla Kuban Marchlands
Kate Atkinson Case Histories
Kate Grenville The Idea of Perfection - winner
Kathryn Heyman The Breaking
Kathy Page The Story of My Face
Kira Cochrane Escape Routes for Beginners
Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss - shortlist
Kirsten Bakis Lives of the Monster Dogs - shortlist
Kitty Aldridge Pop
Laura Fish Strange Music
Laura Hird Born Free
Laurie Graham Dog Days, Glenn Miller Nights
Laurie R King With Child
Leila Aboulela Minaret
Leila Aboulela The Translator
Leone Ross All the Blood is Red
Lesley Glaister Now You See Me
Lesley Glaister The Private Parts of Women
Leslie Forbes Fish, Blood & Bone
Lily Prior La Cucina
Linda Grant The Cast Iron Shore
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs
Linda Grant When I Lived in Modern Times - winner
Lindsey Collen The Rape of Sita
Lionel Shriver We Need to Talk About Kevin - winner
Lisa Moore Alligator
Lissa Evans Their Finest Hour and a Half
Liz Jensen Ark Baby
Liz Jensen Egg Dancing
Liz Jensen War Crimes for the Home
Lori Lansens The Girls
Lorraine Adams Harbor
Louise Welsh The Cutting Room
Louise Young Baby Love
Lucy Ellmann Dot in the Universe
Lucy Ellmann Man or Mango?
M J Hyland Carry Me Down
Maggie Gee The Flood
Maggie Gee The White Family - shortlist
Maile Meloy Liars & Saints - shortlist
Manda Scott Hen's Teeth - shortlist
Margaret Atwood Alias Grace - shortlist
Margaret Atwood Oryx and Crake - shortlist
Margaret Atwood The Blind Assassin - shortlist
Margaret Forster Over
Marianne Wiggins Eveless Eden – shortlist
Marilyn Bowering Visible Worlds - shortlist
Marilynne Robinson Gilead
Marina Lewycka A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - shortlist
Marly Swick Evening News
Mary Kay Zuravleff The Frequency of Souls
Mary Morrissy Mother of Pearl
Maureen Duffy Restitution
Meaghan Delahunt In the Blue House
Meera Syal Anita and Me
Meg Wolitzer The Position
Melanie Finn Away From You
Melanie Wallace The Housekeeper
Michele Roberts Impossible Saints
Michelle de Kretser The Lost Dog
Michelle Huneven Round Rock
Michelle Lovric The Remedy
Miranda Hearn Nelson’s Daughter
Miriam Toews The Flying Troutmans
Monica Ali Brick Lane
Nadine Gordimer The House Gun
Nancy Huston Fault Lines
Nani Power Crawling at Night
Naomi Alderman Disobedience
Nell Freudenberger The Dissident
Nell Leyshon Black Dirt
Nicole Krauss The History of Love - shortlist
Nora Okja Keller Comfort Woman
Nora Okja Keller Fox Girl
Oonya Kempadoo Buxton Spice
Pagan Kennedy Spinsters - shortlist
Pat Barker The Ghost Road
Patricia Ferguson It So Happens
Patricia Ferguson Peripheral Vision
Patricia Wood Lottery
Paulina Simons Red Leaves
Pauline Melville The Ventriloquist's Tale - shortlist
Penelope Fitzgerald The Blue Flower
Philippa Gregory The Constant Princess
Preeta Samarasan Evening is the Whole Day
Rachel Cusk Arlington Park - shortlist
Rachel Seiffert Afterwards
Rachel Seiffert The Dark Room
Rebecca Gowers When to Walk
Rose Tremain The Colour - shortlist
Rose Tremain The Road Home
Rosina Lippi Homestead - shortlist
Rupa Bajwa The Sari Shop
Sadie Jones The Outcast
Samantha Harvey The Wilderness
Samantha Hunt The Invention of Everything Else
Sandra Benitez Bitter Grounds
Sandra Cisneros Caramelo
Sarah Hall The Electric Michelangelo
Sarah May The Internationals
Sarah Waters Fingersmith – shortlist
Sarah Waters The Night Watch - shortlist
Sena Jeter Naslund Ahab's Wife
Shauna Singh Baldwin What the Body Remembers
Shena Mackay Heligoland - shortlist
Sheri Holman The Mammoth Cheese - shortlist
Shirley Hazzard The Great Fire - shortlist
Siri Hustvedt The Enchantment of Lily Dahl
Siri Hustvedt What I Loved
Sonya Hartnett What the Birds See
Stef Penney The Tenderness of Wolves
Stella Duffy State of Happiness
Stephanie Grant The Passion of Alice
Stevie Davies Kith & Kin
Stevie Davies The Element of Water
Sue Gee The Mysteries of Glass
Sue Miller Lost in the Forest
Sue Monk Kidd The Secret Life of Bees
Sunetra Gupta A Sin of Colour
Suzanne Berne A Crime in the Neighbourhood - winner
Toni Morrison Love
Toni Morrison Paradise - shortlist
Tracy Chevalier Girl with a Pearl Earring
Trezza Azzopardi The Hiding Place
Tricia Wastvedt The River
Valerie Martin Property - winner
VV Ganeshananthan Love Marriage
Xiaolu Guo A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers - shortlist
Zadie Smith On Beauty - winner
Zadie Smith The Autograph Man - shortlist
Zadie Smith White Teeth - shortlist
Zoë Heller Notes on a Scandal

Read in May 2009

What? It's the end of yet another month already?

Fiction (10)
Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi - Adichie
De Niro's Game - Rawi Hage

The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
The Tricking of Freya - Christina Sunley
Fear and Trembling - Amelie Nothomb
Cocaine Nights - J.G. Ballard
Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
David Golder, the Ball, Snow in Autumn, The Courilof Affair - Irene Nemirovsky
The Speed of Light - Javier Cercas
Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow

Poetry (1)
Good Poems - Garrison Keillor

Graphic Novels (2)
Maus - Art Spiegelman
The League of Extraordinary Gentlement Vol II - Alan Moore

Non-fiction (6)
What It Is - Lynda Barry
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda - Philip Gourevitch
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street - Helene Hanff
The Widow Clicquot - Tilar J. Mazzeo
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant - Jenni Ferrari-Adler (ed)
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami

Total: 19