Thursday, January 23, 2020

Introducing New-To-Me Writers: Elif Shafak and Bernardine Evaristo

January has been a good month for reading discoveries. I began the year with two books in a row by authors previously unknown to me and whose backlists I will happily work my way through in the near future: Elif Shafak and Bernardine Evaristo, both English writers who draw from their experience and/or heritage in other cultures. You can listen to a Guardian Books podcast in which Shafak speaks with interviewer Claire Armitstead about her writing in general, this astonishing novel in particular, and, courageously, about Turkey's treatment of novelists.  Thanks to my friend and occasional commenter here, Brenda, for alerting me to this podcast. I haven't yet heard Evaristo speak, but if I do, I'll come back and link here -- or, if you can recommend a link, I'd appreciate your sharing it with us.

I'm going to continue the practice I began last year of posting my current reading on Instagram, where my comments will rarely offer much summary or overview but instead reflect my impressions at the first few chapters or perhaps share a passage or two, or even several pages, I was particularly struck by. I posted this, for example, about 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

And in tandem with the Instagram posts, I'm also going to continue hand-writing my responses to the books I read -- and of sharing photographs of those pages without a word-processed transcription. I won't belabour the point here, but I suppose I see value both in the hand-writing itself and in the engagement of the reader with the challenges of letters formed idiosyncratically. . . .As always, though, if you can't make out letters or words or sentences or whole passages, let me know in the comments below and I'll happily decipher for you.

I do apologize, though, for the problems I was having with my fountain pen in the entry above. The ink wasn't drawing properly, and when I got it flowing again, I traced over the letters. So I'm going to make an exception right after declaring my basic principle, and I'll transcribe those first few lines.
Bought, trade paperback NYC: Black Cat P, 2019 Read early January
Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other
Two great books in a row -- and both by female British writers from different cultural heritages, Shafik from Turkey and Evaristo, born in . . . . 

and from there, I'll let you read as you wish, on your own. . .  You might also be interested in what I posted on IG here and here.



That's it for this morning. . .

Since I read these two books, I've also read -- and will post about, very soon -- Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister the Serial Killer,  Melissa Harrison's Clay, and Kate Hamer's The Doll Funeral, and I'm currently reading Marlena de Blasi's That Summer in Sicily to Paul while he cooks our dinners, Tessa Hadley's Late in the Day to myself, and, when my granddaughter arrives here after school today, we'll pick up where we left off a few weeks ago in Catherine Gilbert Murdock's The Book of Boy (luckily the Eleven has a very good memory for narrative). . . . What can I say? I'm Frances and I'm a book addict. . . .

And you? How has your reading year begun? Have you read either of these two books? Or might you, now that I've told you something of them? Any questions for me about them?



5 comments:

Georgia said...

'Grief is a swallow'...oh I like that...and we have already learned 'hope is a thing with feathers'...emotions as birds.

I just started Melissa Harrison's At Hawthorn Time...too soon to comment but feels promising. Raced through Ann Cleeves' White Nights (Shetland) yesterday/this morning. On the night table a little pile of very early Margaret Drabble and Weatherland (Alexandra Harris). Weatherland is the perfect bedtime read and never have I turned down so many pages...just to go back again and again to delight in the discoveries and realizations of long ago.

Anonymous said...

Always happy to discover new authors, and these two seem very promising indeed. Thank you! I've been filling in the gaps in my reading of Elly Griffiths and Peter May (finally found the first book in his Lewis series and am really enjoying it). Found an older Donna Leon at our used bookstore but after a few pages realized I had already read it; so many titles in her series it's hard to remember them all!
Frances in Sidney

materfamilias said...

At HawthornTime is on my list... and now I’m wondering if I must add Weatherland. I’ll have to look it up, at least...

materfamilias said...

That’s the trouble with the long series such as Leon’s... I’ve stuck to reading them in order, when possible, and I tend to look up that order on my phone before buying or borrowing. Can’t seem to rely on memory—I’d do (have done) just what you did.

Anonymous said...

10 Minutes...and Girl,Woman,Other (yes,a beautiful prose ,you are right,like a litany and when I've finished,I wanted to read it again,from the beginning)are really excellent books indeed,can't wait to read other Shafak's books
I've read M. Atwood's The Testaments as well (I've read The Handmaid's Tale some thirty five years ago....)....
I've finished Ann Glenconner's Lady In Waiting (Wendy in York has mentioned it at Sue's blog),first two of Denise Mina's Morrow series (you were right,I like her very much,especially the second one) and two of Peter May's China series as well as Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Dottoressa