James’s 2017 reading list

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Viewing 10 posts - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)
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  • #252579
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    15. Dave Hutchinson – Europe In Autumn (2014)

    NOMINATED FOR THE 2015 ARTHUR C. CLARKE, BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION AND JOHN W. CAMPBELL MEMORIAL AWARDS

    Rudi is a cook in a Krakow restaurant, but when his boss asks Rudi to help a cousin escape from the country he’s trapped in, a new career – part spy, part people-smuggler – begins. Following multiple economic crises and a devastating flu pandemic, Europe has fractured into countless tiny nations, duchies, polities and republics. Recruited by the shadowy organisation Les Coureurs des Bois, Rudi is schooled in espionage, but when a training mission to The Line, a sovereign nation consisting of a trans-Europe railway line, goes wrong, he is arrested and beaten, and Coureur Central must attempt a rescue.

    With so many nations to work in, and identities to assume, Rudi is kept busy travelling across Europe. But when he is sent to smuggle someone out of Berlin and finds a severed head inside a locker instead, a conspiracy begins to wind itself around him. With kidnapping, double-crosses and a map that constantly re-draws itself, Europe in Autumn is a science fiction thriller like no other.

    #252580
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    16. Jonathan Franzen – Freedom (2010)

    Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbour who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.

    But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbour,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

    In this instant #1 bestselling novel, Jonathan Franzen charts the mistakes and joys of these intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world. An epic of contemporary love and marriage, Freedom is a deeply moving portrait of our time.

    #252581
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    17. E.M. Forster – A Room with a View (1908)

    This Edwardian social comedy explores love and prim propriety among an eccentric cast of characters assembled in an Italian pensione and in a corner of Surrey, England.

    A charming young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson—who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist—Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England, she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion.

    #252582
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    18. Stephen King – The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015)

    A master storyteller at his best—the New York Times bestselling, O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.

    Since his first collection, Nightshift, published many years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

    There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.

    Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

    #252583
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    19. Gary Barwin – Yiddish For Pirates (2016)

    Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and nominated for the Governor-General’s Award for Literature, a hilarious, swashbuckling yet powerful tale of pirates, buried treasure and a search for the Fountain of Youth, told in the ribald, philosophical voice of a 500-year-old Jewish parrot.

    Set in the years around 1492, Yiddish for Pirates recounts the compelling story of Moishe, a Bar Mitzvah boy who leaves home to join a ship’s crew, where he meets Aaron, the polyglot parrot who becomes his near-constant companion.

    From a present-day Florida nursing home, this wisecracking yet poetic bird guides us through a world of pirate ships, Yiddish jokes and treasure maps. But Inquisition Spain is a dangerous time to be Jewish and Moishe joins a band of hidden Jews trying to preserve some forbidden books. He falls in love with a young woman, Sarah; though they are separated by circumstance, Moishe’s wanderings are motivated as much by their connection as by his quest for loot and freedom. When all Jews are expelled from Spain, Moishe travels to the Caribbean with the ambitious Christopher Columbus, a self-made man who loves his creator. Moishe eventually becomes a pirate and seeks revenge on the Spanish while seeking the ultimate booty: the Fountain of Youth.

    This outstanding New Face of Fiction is filled with Jewish takes on classic pirate tales–fights, prison escapes, and exploits on the high seas–but it’s also a tender love story, between Moishe and Sarah, and between Aaron and his “shoulder,” Moishe. Rich with puns, colourful language, post-colonial satire and Kabbalistic hijinks, Yiddish for Pirates is also a compelling examination of mortality, memory, identity and persecution from one of this country’s most talented writers.

    #252584
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    20. Esi Edugyan – Half-Blood Blues (2011)

    Paris, 1940. A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen. And he is black.

    Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero’s fate. From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris — where the legendary Louis Armstrong makes an appearance — Sid, with his distinctive and rhythmic German-American slang, leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of the resistance.

    Half-Blood Blues, the second novel by an exceptionally talented young writer, is an entrancing, electric story about jazz, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

    #252585
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    21. Tomson Highway – Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing (1989)

    Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing tells another story of the mythical Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve, also the setting for Tomson Highway’s award winning play The Rez Sisters. Wherein The Rez Sisters the focus was on seven “Wasy” women and the game of bingo, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing features seven “Wasy” men and the game of hockey. It is a fast-paced story of tragedy, comedy, and hope.

    #252586
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    22. Will Ferguson – 419 (2012)

    Winner of the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

    Amazon.ca Editors’ Pick: Best Books of 2012

    From internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, author of Happiness™ and Spanish Fly, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human endurance. A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine. A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa. And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims.

    Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help…”

    Will Ferguson takes readers deep into the labyrinth of lies that is 419, the world’s most insidious Internet scam.

    When Laura Curtis, a lonely editor in a cold northern city, discovers that her father has died because of one such swindle, she sets out to track down—and corner—her father’s killer. It is a dangerous game she’s playing, however, and the stakes are higher than she can ever imagine. Woven into Laura’s journey is a mysterious woman from the African Sahel with scars etched into her skin and a young man who finds himself caught up in a web of violence and deceit.

    And running through it, a dying father’s final words: “You, I love.”

    #252587
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    23. Madeleine Thien – Do Not Say We Have Nothing (2016)

    Winner of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and longlisted for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, this extraordinary novel tells the story of three musicians in China before, during and after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

    Madeleine Thien’s new novel is breathtaking in scope and ambition even as it is hauntingly intimate. With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. With exquisite writing sharpened by a surprising vein of wit and sly humour, Thien has crafted unforgettable characters who are by turns flinty and headstrong, dreamy and tender, foolish and wise.

    At the centre of this epic tale, as capacious and mysterious as life itself, are enigmatic Sparrow, a genius composer who wishes desperately to create music yet can find truth only in silence; his mother and aunt, Big Mother Knife and Swirl, survivors with captivating singing voices and an unbreakable bond; Sparrow’s ethereal cousin Zhuli, daughter of Swirl and storyteller Wen the Dreamer, who as a child witnesses the denunciation of her parents and as a young woman becomes the target of denunciations herself; and headstrong, talented Kai, best friend of Sparrow and Zhuli, and a determinedly successful musician who is a virtuoso at masking his true self until the day he can hide no longer. Here, too, is Kai’s daughter, the ever-questioning mathematician Marie, who pieces together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking a fragile meaning in the layers of their collective story.

    With maturity and sophistication, humour and beauty, a huge heart and impressive understanding, Thien has crafted a novel that is at once beautifully intimate and grandly political, rooted in the details of daily life inside China, yet transcendent in its universality.

    #252588
    jameskearl
    Participant
    • Topics - 17
    • Replies - 416

    24. Emma Donahue – The Wonder (2016)

    A small Irish village is mystified by what appears to be a miracle but may actually be murder in the next masterpiece from New York Times-bestselling author Emma Donoghue.

    A small village in 1850s rural Ireland is baffled by Anna O’Donnell’s fast, which began as a self-inflicted and earnest expression of faith. After weeks of subsisting only on what she calls “manna from heaven,” the story of the “miracle” has reached a fever pitch. Tourists flock in droves to the O’Donnell family’s modest cabin hoping to witness, and an international journalist is sent to cover the sensational story. Enter Lib, an English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale who is hired to keep watch for two weeks and determine whether or not Anna is a fraud. As Anna deteriorates, Lib finds herself responsible not just for the care of a child, but for getting to the root of why the child may actually be the victim of murder in slow motion.

    A magnetic novel written with all the spare and propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, The Wonder works beautifully on many levels—a simple tale of two strangers who will transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil in its many masks.

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