With a delivery of woodchips (the missing piece that will complete the backyard) due to arrive in that usual delivery time frame of several hours of the afternoon, I made a hurried stop over at the library (and the post office and Target) to pick up four holds – and yeah, you guessed it, I couldn’t help grabbing myself a few more off the shelves.
Another Sea, Another Shore: Persian Stories of Migration– edited by Shouleh Vatanabadi
My search on the library’s catalogue for works by Kader Abdolah, author of The House of The Mosque (which I first heard of at Rob Around Books) resulted in this find, which unfortunately was the only one!
In today’s world, with its often fluid national borders, many outstanding literary works have given voice to the life experience of immigrants, whose very being challenges traditional notions of national identity and culture. The recent immigration of Iranians all over the world has carved a space for a distinctly Iranian version of this vital wellspring of contemporary writing.
The stories in this collection are varied in their voices and themes and treat a number of issues such as national identity, gender, race, and class. Some capture childhood recollections; others reminisce about the homeland and the life left behind. All of them reflect efforts to reinvent new and multiple identities, as well as multicultural and borderless spaces.
The authors include both established and new voices: Fahimeh Farsaie, Dariush Karegar, Nasim Khaksar, Farideh Kheradmand, Pari Mansuri, Mehrnoush Mazarei, Qodsi Qazinur, Marjan Riahi, Said, Azar Shahab, Mahasti Shahrokhi, Mohammad Asef Soltanzadeh, and Goli Taraqi.
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca – Tahir Shah
A non-fiction read for the Moroccan leg of the Reading The World Challenge.
In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….
Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he and his wife, Rachana, had, Tahir packed up his growing family and bought Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion by the sea in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s caliph, or spiritual leader.
With its lush grounds, cool, secluded courtyards, and relaxed pace, life at Dar Khalifa seems sure to fulfill Tahir’s fantasy–until he discovers that in many ways he is farther from home than he imagined. For in Morocco an empty house is thought to attract jinns, invisible spirits unique to the Islamic world. The ardent belief in their presence greatly hampers sleep and renovation plans, but that is just the beginning. From elaborate exorcism rituals involving sacrificial goats to dealing with gangster neighbors intent on stealing their property, the Shahs must cope with a new culture and all that comes with it.
Endlessly enthralling, The Caliph’s House charts a year in the life of one family who takes a tremendous gamble. As we follow Tahir on his travels throughout the kingdom, from Tangier to Marrakech to the Sahara, we discover a world of fierce contrasts that any true adventurer would be thrilled to call home.
Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate – Alice Medrich
Oh, chocolate, how I love you. A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I made some cocoa brownies using this recipe adapted from Medrich’s cookbook by amazing food blogger Smitten Kitchen (here’s the link to the recipe). The brownies were decadently rich but so simple to make. I never would have thought that brownies using cocoa (and not actual chocolate) could taste that great. It does help if you use better quality cocoa powder of course! I’m looking forward to seeing what else Medrich has up her sleeve.
It is hard, today, to imagine a time when the word bittersweet was rarely spoken, when 70 percent of the chocolate purchased by Americans was milk chocolate. Today’s world of chocolate is a much larger universe, where not only is the quality better and variety wider, but the very composition of the chocolate has changed.
To do justice to these new chocolates, which contain more pure chocolate and less sugar, we need a fresh approach to chocolate desserts—a new kind of recipe—and someone to crack the code for substituting one chocolate for another in both new and classic recipes. Alice Medrich, the “First Lady of Chocolate,” delivers.
With nearly 150 recipes—each delicious and foolproof, no matter your level of expertise—BitterSweet answers every chocolate question, teaches every technique, confides every secret, satisfies every craving. You’ll marvel that recipes as basic as brownies and chocolate cake, mint chocolate chip ice cream and chocolate mousse, can still surprise and excite you, and that soufflés, chocolate panna cotta, even pasta sauces can be so dramatically flavorful.
For the last thirty years, Alice Medrich has been learning, teaching, and sharing what she loves and understands about chocolate. BitterSweet is the culmination of her life in chocolate thus far: revolutionary recipes, profound knowledge, and charming tales of a chocolate life.
The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi
All those accolades… will it live up to them?
*Winner of the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel*
In this Time Magazine top 10 book of the year, Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism’s genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of The Calorie Man; (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and Yellow Card Man (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions. This title has been nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards. This title was also on the best book lists of the year for Library Journal and Publishers Weekly.
Little Nothings 1: The Curse of the Umbrella (v. 1) – Lewis Trondheim
Never heard of this graphic novel or its creator before, but looked interesting!
The great talent behind the new generation in Europe, the Dungeon series, A.L.I.E.E.E.N. and Mr. O, pours his heart out in funny snippets of everyday life. His paranoia, little annoyances, big annoyances, chase of rainbows, love of comics, travel impressions from around the world, dealing with kids, being a kid: it’s all about life as we know it. A collection from his comics blog that expands his palette with full color painting, one can only be awed at Trondheim’s uncanny sense of observation and relate to all his experiences closely. Another touch of genius by one of today’s best and most influential comic artists.
Lucky – Gabrielle Bell
Another graphic novel that caught my eye as I scanned the shelves.
Gabrielle Bell fascinatingly documents the mundane details of her below-minimum-wage, twentysomething existence in Brooklyn, New York, with a subtle humor. Her simple, unadorned drawing style, heavy narration, and biting wit chronicle transient roommates who communicate only through Post-it notes; aspiring artists who sublet tiny rooms in leaky, greasy broken-down border-house loft apartments crawling with bugs, cats, and bad art. Bell tackles a string of forgettable, unrelated jobs—including nude modeling, artist’s assistant, art teacher, and jewelry maker—that only serve to bolster her despair, boredom, and discomfort in her own skin.Bell’s self-scrutiny leads her to dream sequences that allow her to rise above her banal actuality and hyperawareness. She fantasizes about her vision of a perfect world as she becomes the accomplished artist and world traveler she longs to be. Bell’s daily comics allow her to escape the harsh, judgmental gaze of the world and the monotony of daily life. Her unpolished art speaks to a desire to record all the messy details while the pain and confusion are still fresh.
Coming of age amid the zine revolution, cartoonist Gabrielle Bell has been creating her comics to much acclaim, even winning an Ignatz Award for the self-published serialization of Lucky.
A Vocation and a Voice: Stories – Kate Chopin
A book that is older than me.
This collection of short stories includes “The Story of an Hour” about the author’s childhood, “An Egyptian Cigarette”, the story of a drug trip and the title piece about a sweet-voiced soprano who learns about adult life.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
What did you get from your library this week?
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