Friday, 26 November 2010

The Good Earth -- Pearl Buck

An epic tale of peasant life in pre-Cultural Revolution China tracing one family's rise from subsistence farming to great wealth. It's all there: concubines, opium, bandits, floods, riches, love and war. Moving and solemn, it is a novel of great beauty told with simplicity and resonance. One feels for Wang through his struggles but in the end, he brings a lot of misfortune upon himself, never seeming to be able to master himself ... But who would have chosen to be a woman in those times?!

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Mystic Masseur -- VS Naipaul

A curate's egg; most liked the beginning but lost interest towards the end. One got the impression that the great man did not really like his colourful characters. Even the 'two books for the price of one' format got the thumbs down. An interesting first novel by a man who didn't sound comfortable either in his native or adopted lands.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Road Back -- Erich Maria Remarque

Excellent read and very moving; captured a lot of the intangibles about becoming a man and what violence teaches a young man. PTSD , social class . Exceptional.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Thomas Paine -- Common Sense

This short political pamphlet of 1774 - the lead in to the American Declaration of Independence led to a long discussion of politics, rights and history.

A hero in USA , I suspect not studied much in school history here

Confederacy of Dunces -- John Kennedy Toole

A wonderful larger than life series of characters living in New Orleans.
All enjoyed it

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Fools Gold -- Gillian Tett

FT journalist Tett has written a readable if at times acronym-filled book about the financial crisis - CDOs, CDSs etc.
This is done through the story of staff at JPMorgan. The group split on the virtues and vices of capitalism in an interesting's evening discussion but we all felt better informed for reading it.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Red Harvest -- Dashiel Hammett

Dashiel Hammet's thriller starts like a Cagney movie but I couldn't keep up the American accent in my head. A nameless narrator cleans up the town. Interesting to have read but few of us will be back for more.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

A Hero of Our Time -- Mikhail Lermontov

Different translations highlighted the issue of reading books in translation. Interesting to see the origin of troubles in Chechnya going back 150 years

Thursday, 7 January 2010

White Tiger -- Aravind Adiga

O na cold and snow-bound night we discussed this tropical book ; the narrator gets to the top of the slippery pole in a tale set as India changes from a rural and fuedal society to a modern capitalist state .

A good read ... certainly worth the acclaim it has received .