Exit West Review

Title: Exit West
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb: In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. 

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Me: Such a relevant, poignant, simple yet moving story of two people in extremely difficult situations. I loved it.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem Review

Title: Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Author: Joan Didion
Genre: Essays

Blurb: The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America— particularly California—in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.

Me: I almost didn't write this review, because it's been a while since I've been so ambivalent about a book. It was well-written, but it left me empty and didn't add any astonishing insight.

On Writing: The Book & My Thoughts

In 1999, the legendary Stephen King wrote the legendary book about what he did best, On Writing. 

Ever since, it's become required (or at least highly recommended) reading for any aspiring writer or really, any type of creative. The book has timeless wisdom and it doesn't hurt that the advice comes from one of the most successful authors alive today. 

I don't talk about writing on here nearly as much as I talk about reading. I think it's for a few reasons. One, the blog was started to log my reading journey. Two, I am much less confident in my writing ability than my reading ability. Three, I don't feel experienced enough to really "talk" about writing. 

Black Boy Review

Title: Black Boy
Author: Richard Wright
Genre: Classic, Memoir

Blurb: Black Boy is a classic of American autobiography, a subtly crafted narrative of Richard Wright's journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. An enduring story of one young man's coming of age during a particular time and place, Black Boy remains a seminal text in our history about what it means to be a man, black, and Southern in America.

Me: With Black Boy, Richard Wright just absolutely took the title of my favorite writer about anything related to race. Incredible.

FemLIT: Their Eyes were Watching God Review

This month for FemLIT, we read both a feminist and an African-American classic, Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, to celebrate Black History Month. Here were my thoughts. 

L'Etranger & Reading in French

A few weeks ago, I finished reading my third complete book I've read in French,  L'√Čtranger by Albert Camus. It was the first French book that I read that I felt had complex literary meanings, and it was pretty daunting to try and absorb that in a different language. But it was so worth it.

New Zealand: The Bone People Review

Title: The Bone People
Author: Keri Hulme
Genre: Fiction

Blurb: In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon's feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality. Out of this unorthodox trinity Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge. Winner of both a Booker Prize and Pegasus Prize for Literature, The Bone People is a work of unfettered wordplay and mesmerizing emotional complexity.

Me: Unconventional and groundbreaking, but also confusing and unresolved.