By Rebecca Johnston Leonardo Padura is arguably one of Cuba’s most untouchable writers. He made his name first as an investigative journalist, and then as the author of the Havana Quartet detective series, sometimes described as “morality tales for the post-Soviet era.” The Man Who Loved Dogs is by far his most ambitious work. A […]
Alaa al-Aswany’s novel The Yacoubian Building (2002, Arabic عمارة يعقوبيان) tells the story of a group of people loosely bound together by dint of living in the same crumbling building – a real place – in downtown Cairo.
George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia is an interesting work.
Sacred Hunger, a novel by Barry Unsworth (which was awarded the 1992 Booker Prize) is the story of a single ship and a single voyage. The novel begins in 1752, in Liverpool, England. The Royal African Company, a chartered corporation created in the mid-17th-century with a monopoly on trade with the African coast, has just lost the last of its privileges, making the slave trade, for the first time, a “free trade” (all irony intended).
Erik Larson is a peculiar type of writer. He writes history as narrative drama, and does it well. Larson locates an important moment in history, then meticulously mines historical archives to construct an entirely non-fiction account of events into what reads like a good novel.
The best historical novel I’ve ever read is Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. It helps that Dickens is one of my favorite writers, and that the French revolution afforded a wonderfully dramatic context for him to display his story-telling skills.
Much like its eponymous waterway, V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River meanders steadily through the dark reality of postcolonial Africa, alternately depicting minimalist beauty and frightening tension. Like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, subtle prose reveals the timelessness of the continent’s remote corners alongside human corruptibility.
The title of Carey’s best-seller is misleading. The True History of the Kelly Gang is not a “true history” at all, but rather an imagined autobiography of Australia’s greatest folk-hero, the bushranger Ned Kelly and his band of Irish-Australian outlaws.
Set during the nascent years of the Indian nationalist movement in the fictitious North Indian town of Chandrapore, E.M. Foster’s novel, A Passage to India, follows Adela Quested, a young English woman visiting India for the first time.
On November 11, 1938, Pearl Buck awoke to learn that she had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her first reaction—in Chinese—was “Wo bu xiangxin (我不相信)” or “I don’t believe it.” She added in English: “That’s ridiculous.