Tag Archive: best books


 Edited by Jo Glanville
 
I read this for Book 7. A book set in a country that fascinates you.
These short stories are amazing. They offer slices of life in Palestine as experienced and then told by women. Many of them are not political in any overt way – they deal with childhood memories of being mischievous, of buying shoes and not buying into societies ideas of what feminine is, of being a child in a beautiful country.
 
Others show how the political situation defines and determines so many actions and activities those of us in freer countries would perform without thought. Imagine spending a whole day travelling a short distance to visit relatively because of the numerous road blocks? Road blocks with what seems like very little purpose other than to show power.
 
And yet other stories talk very specifically about the awful vortex of death and killing that exists in this part of the world. You kill my child, I will kill two of yours – back and forth until all the children are dead.
 
All of the stories are powerful in their own way. Not a single one can be read and just flipped past, forgotten, consumed like junk food. They are all important and valuable. Each deserves time taken to read and digest. I will return to them all to reread and reconsider.
 
In each story the very humanness of the characters is so powerful. When we read of deaths and bombings or see footage on tv it is easy to forget that the victims, and perpetrators, are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, siblings – people just like us with all the same relationships and complications.
 
These stories show the humanity of the people caught up in the violence, and remind us that it is not politicians who live with the daily fear – it is the people.
 
In addition, there is a strong feminist thread through these stories. These are women getting on with it, making things happen, surviving often in the most dire of circumstances.
 
A wonderful collection of stories. Simply wonderful.
 
In the spirit of fairness, I shall also be reading a collection of Israeli short stories. And I am sure that the same humanity, experiences, fears and disruptions exist on that side of the story too.
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Honour

I absolutely loved this book. I loved everything about it. The characters are all completely believable, the story is one which will you will not want to see the end of while dying to know what actually happened, the writing is wonderful to read and the humanity of the story is so real as to feel — well, real.

I was absorbed for the four evenings I read this book until too late in bed. Had I had the time this would have been a ‘sit down on a Saturday morning and read til it gets dark’ kind of book.

The story is about a Turkish family in London.
It is about how the first generation of immigrant families struggle with the clashing cultures.
It is about how mothers and women in some cultures have roles others may find hard to understand.
It is about sisters and their love for each other which knows no bounds.
It is about faith and a belief that what will be will be, regardless of whether that is experienced as good or not.
And it is about the futility and hope in equal measure, of love.
And family. It is a lot about family. Good family and bad family and painful family and just crappy putting up with shit family.
And maybe just a little about forgiveness.

The story is about the Turkish family and their gambler father who leaves. And the mother who finds the possibility of love again, but cannot be allowed to bring dishonour to the family.
To paraphrase one of the lines which really hit hard: Men have honour, women have shame.
The honourable women woven through the book are the ones carrying shame which is not even theirs, while the very dishonourable men have no shame and are not expected too.
This book should be read by everyone and discussed. How we have a growing society in the 21st century in which this is the prevalent state of being frightens me.

I am all for religious and cultural freedom but the subjugation of women in this way makes me very sad and very angry.

But the story does not do this – I have done this after reading. There is no drum being beaten, no horse being flogged, not even a high horse being ridden in this story. It is just a very readable story that may make you think, or may not.

I loved it
I shall read more of this woman’s work – I am a fan

A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

by Rohinton Mistry

Without a doubt up there in my best books ever!
I very seldom reread books but this book I shall keep just to reread in a few years. and again a few years after that.

The story of the book tells of the lives of four main characters (and many other important ones) who, through a variety of circumstances and occurrences, land up sharing a flat in an unnamed city in India in the 70s. I want to resist the clichés of describing lives and stories as a rich tapestry; of the smells and sounds of India emerging from the page; of the hardships of lives described making me review my relatively luxurious life, but I actually cannot. This book really does do all of those things. Like the quilt Dina makes with the left over pieces of fabric used to make dresses for the rich, so the lives of the characters are an intricate combination of textures, colours and experiences. and always, these characters are the left over people, the abused by rich society, the discarded.

Mistry pulled me into the lives of the various characters in this book from the very start. I cared about them, got angry with them, cheered them on and wanted to avert my face when pain and suffering befell them. They live on in my thoughts as though real people I spent time with and now miss.

Mistry also pulled me into India in the 70s. I know very little of the history on India, but after reading this book am going to go and find more out. I am fascinated by the time of the setting of this book – how accurate is Mistry? I fear completely. But I want to know.

a most moving book which never wallows in misery.

I really want to know what won the Booker the year this book was short listed – I cannot imagine what was that much better than A Fine Balance