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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, March 22, 2010

novels I go back to

This is a self-indulgent post - recording the novels which have given me pleasure recently and indeed to which I find myself returning and emerging from them with little recollection of the first read! Few people except my kids will be much interested in this - but I do remember being disappointed at finding so little of a personal nature in the papers left behind by my father.

I read more novels in my older age. So most of these authors I came across only recently. Only Allende, Boll, Durrell, Jenkins, Klima, Marquez, Moravia, Remy, Roy and Trevor go back earlier.

I don’t apologise for Coelho’s appearance in the list. It may not be literature – and perhaps better belongs in the list of lighter reading – which would include Morris West, Robert Ludlum and Colin Harrison. But it’s still very enjoyable. And John le Carre belongs in a category of his own....
It’s interesting to see that only half the list are European writers – although the Celts may seem overrepresented, that’s simply because they do use language creatively!!

I have added at the bottom a short list of poets I enjoy. Previous blogs have given an indication of my more professional reading.

Other enjoyable reads are more difficult to classify - eg Theodor Zeldin's An Intimate History of Humanity. And then there are diaries such as those by de Beauvoir and Luise Rinse.


Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt)
The Yacoubian Building

Allende Isabel (Chile)
Eva Luna
Eva Luna’s stories

Amado Jorge (Brazil);
Gabriela – Clove and Cinnamon (1962)

Boell Heinrich (Germany)
Collected Short Stories
simple but powerful, humanistic stories of the war and immediate desolate post-war years in Germany

Coelho Paul (Brazil)
The Pilgrimage
The Zahir
The Valkries
The Witch of Portobello

Crumey Andrew (Scotand)
Sputnik Caledonia

Durrell Lawrence (England)
The Alexandria Quartet (1960s)
The Avignon Quartet
amazing use of language - the first giving a powerful sense of ex-patriot life in Egypt before and during the 2nd World War. The second giving a sense of the Nazi period in France

Faulds Sebastian (England)
A fool's Alphabet
On Green Dolphin Street
Human Stain
An English writer with a strong European sense!

Gary Romain (France)
Clair de Femme
Au dela de cette limite le billet n’est pas valable

Godwin Jason (England)
The Snake Stone
The Janissary Tree
Evokes Istanbul

Houllebecq Michel (France)

Jenkins Robin (Scotland
The Missionaries ((1957)
Love is a fervent fire (1959)
Some Kind of Grace (1960)
Fergus Lamont
Gives a strong sense of the Scotland which is past

Kazantzakis Nikos (Greece)
The Fratricides
Freedom and Death
Zorba the Greek
Report to Greco
Christ Recrucified
summons up the old rural Greece

Klima Ivan (Czechia)
The Ultimate Intimacy
Judge on Trial
Love and Garbage
For me, much more interesting than his more famous compatriot Milan Kundera

Llosa MV(Peru)
The Green House (1965)
Conversation in the Cathedral
The War of the end of the World
The last novel is the strongest description I;ve ever read of violence

Lodge David (England)
Author, author
Nice Work
Changing Places

Mahfouz Naguib (Egypt)
Palace of Desire (1957)
Sugar Street (The Cairo Trilogy
Palace Walk
The Beggar, the Thief and the Dogs,
Autumn Quail
The Harafish
Midaq Alley
A Nobel prize winner I only got to know when the prize was announced. Such simple but evocative writing about the poor in the post-war period. To read - and reread

Marquez Gabriel Garcia (Columbia)
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Love in the Time of Cholera

Mason Daniel (USA)
The Piano Tuner (2002)

Massie Alan (Scotland)
A Question of Loyalties

McGahern John (Ireland)
Creatures of the Earth
That they may face the rising sun
The older Irish writers are something else (see William Trevor)

Meek James (Scotland)
The People's Act Of Love
We Are Now Beginning Our Descent
Very versatile!

Moravia Albert (Italy)
Contempt (1954)
Boredom (1960)

Nabakov Vladimir (Russia)
The Stories of Vladimir Nabakov

Nassib Selim (Egypt)
I loved you for your voice (2006)

Trevor William (Ireland)
The Old Boys (1964)
The Boarding House (1965)
The Love Department (1966)
After Rain (1996)

Pamuk Orhan (Turkey)
My name is red (2001)
A modern Proust - very tantalising

Remy Pierre-Jean (France)
Une Ville Immortelle

Roy Claude (France)
Le Malheur d’aimer

Shields Carol (Canada)
Larry's Party
The Collected Stories
The Republic of Love

Welsh Irvine (Scotland)
The Bedroom Secrets of the master chefs

Yates Richard (US)
Young Hearts Crying
The Collected Stories of Richard Yates

Yehoshuova (Israel)
A Woman in Jerusalem
The Liberated Bride

Norman McCaig; WS Graham (both Scottish); Bert Brecht (Germany); Marin Sorescu (Romania)

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