Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief 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.
In April, Wee Reader (age 2) started at his new bilingual (English-Mandarin) preschool, and in August, Wee-er Reader (age 2) started attending school there too. Some might say that 2 (and 4 months) is too young for preschool but I wanted him to get started on the Mandarin-learning (we don’t really speak it at home), as well as the whole socialization thing, and also to just get a bit of a break for myself, if only for a few hours each weekday morning!
Anyway, one of the best parts about school – besides both of them liking it! – is that it is near the main library! As in, I park the car, I get out and I can hear the kids in the school playground. Unfortunately though, the library only opens early enough on just two weekdays for me to drop by before picking the kids up at noon. Yeah the library has odd opening hours, like 1-9pm on Mon and Tues, 12-6pm on Wed, 11-6pm on Thurs and Fri. But hey, at least they’ve started opening on Sundays again! And also, requesting holds, both within the library system and as inter-library loans, is free! (tell that to the Singapore library system).
Anyway, I love being able to spend time wandering among the library shelves in the morning. It’s quiet and relatively peaceful. And since school is back on again, the children’s section is full of books.
Our Lady of the Nile – Scholastique Mukasonga (translated from the French)
We had a little time before having to pick up the kids, so I wandered around and saw this shelf of suggested reads. The theme seemed to be school-related books, and included some fiction and non-fiction and some that seemed more like teaching aids even. Interesting.
Anyway, this little book caught my eye. I hadn’t heard of it or its author before so I was rather intrigued.
For her most recent work and first novel – Notre-Dame du Nil, originally published in March 2012 with Gallimard in French – Mukasonga immerses us in a school for young girls, called “Notre-Dame du Nil.” The girls are sent to this high school perched on the ridge of the Nile in order to become the feminine elite of the country and to escape the dangers of the outside world. The book is a prelude to the Rwandan genocide and unfolds behind the closed doors of the school, in the interminable rainy season. Friendships, desires, hatred, political fights, incitation to racial violence, persecutions… The school soon becomes a fascinating existential microcosm of the true 1970s Rwanda.
The Moor’s Account – Laila Lalami
In this stunning work of historical fiction, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America—a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record.
In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés.
But from the moment the Narváez expedition landed in Florida, it faced peril—navigational errors, disease, starvation, as well as resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer named Andrés Dorantes de Carranza; and Dorantes’s Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the three Spaniards called Estebanico. These four survivors would go on to make a journey across America that would transform them from proud conquis-tadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers.
The Moor’s Account brilliantly captures Estebanico’s voice and vision, giving us an alternate narrative for this famed expedition. As the dramatic chronicle unfolds, we come to understand that, contrary to popular belief, black men played a significant part in New World exploration and Native American men and women were not merely silent witnesses to it. In Laila Lalami’s deft hands, Estebanico’s memoir illuminates the ways in which stories can transmigrate into history, even as storytelling can offer a chance for redemption and survival.
The Hunter: a Detective Takako Otomichi mystery – Asa Nonami (translated from the Japanese)
Another read for Diversiverse/RIPX.
In The Hunter, the first English translation of the atmospheric, gritty and character-driven work of prize-winning, bestselling Japanese writer Asa Nonami, American readers are introduced to Takako Otomichi, a strong, complex female detective reminiscent of Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski and Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone.
Takako is a former motorbike patrolwoman-turned-detective who is partnered with an older, seasoned, misogynist detective in a murder investigation. Their search reveals that the victim ran a dating club for men to meet high-school girls, and had previously been involved in the nightclub underworld of Roppongi. Before long, the case is linked to another death, this time apparently the result of an attack by a large dog. As Takako and Takizawa question experts in kennel clubs and police dog training centers, the dog strikes again. They soon realize that the animal responsible is actually half-dog, half-wolf. The trail leads to Kasahara, a former police dog handler; his deeply troubled daughter; and the shocking revelation that Kasahara had owned and trained a wolf-dog called Hayate to kill on command. But Hayate has escaped and is killing on his own. As Takako becomes increasingly fascinated with this highly intelligent, dangerous creature, she must use all her wits and insight to track down and stop Hayate before he strikes again.
Saga Volume 4 – Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
Whee! More Saga!
From the Eisner Award-winning duo of Brian K. Vaughan (The Private Eye, Pride of Baghdad) and Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, Thor, SAGA is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. As they visit a strange new world and encounter even more adversaries, baby Hazel finally becomes a toddler, while her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana struggle to stay on their feet.
Ms Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why – by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona , Jacob Wyatt
Ok so I am more excited to get hold of this one than Saga….
Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help! If Kamala can stop fan-girding out about meeting her favorite super hero, that is. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity — by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future. Kamala bands together with some unlikely heroes to stop the maniacal villain before he does real damage, but has she taken on more than she can handle? And how much longer can Ms. Marvel’s life take over Kamala Khan’s? Kamala Khan continues to prove why she’s the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is!
Oh and plenty of e-book holds came in too!
Beauty is a wound – Eka Kumiawan
Yay! A translated work from an Indonesian writer. The only other Indonesian writer whose works I’ve read is Pramoedya Ananta Toer (whose Girl from the Coast is a brilliant read), so I’m looking forward to this.
The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan’s gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his young nation’s troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders of perhaps a million “Communists,” followed by three decades of Suharto’s despotic rule.
Beauty Is a Wound astonishes from its opening line: “One afternoon on a weekend in May, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years…” Drawing on local sources—folk tales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope—and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Kurniawan’s distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.
His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) – Naomi Novik
So after reading and loving Uprooted, I immediately placed a hold on this series!
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
The Quick – Lauren Owen
London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.
In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents
Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?