Author: Henning Mankell
Publisher: Knopf (2008)
The book starts with a wolf that enters the town of Hesjovallen that is deserted because someone came and murdered everyone. An older man discovers a body in blood, gets in a car accident, and has a heart attack, dying in the process. Enter the investigators Vivi Sundberg that has to figure out who responsible for this Swedish massacre. Then we are introduced to judge, Birgitta Roslin from another town who learns that her grandparents were killed in that massacre. Then we are introduced to these Chinese brothers – San, Guo Si, and Wu, who have to leave their home in China because the landowner has murdered their parents and will come find them to pay a debt. As the book unravels, these three stories are intertwined in a roundabout way that makes the ending anticlimactic.
As a book club selection, this book was a doozy. Perhaps it was the translation from the Swedish language to English, but I found this book very hard to get into and read. The English was stilted, stiff, trite, too direct, too much the way people don’t talk but should, and not fun or interesting to read. The plot started interesting enough; I thought the author would stay and thrill the reader in the way the story started. I thought this story would be more of a thriller the way it started with each different character section. But as much as each part was necessary to tell all parts of this story, this didn’t work as a whole. It was so damn awkward and blah that I found it so very hard to care. There was social commentary about the Chinese government and affairs which was clunky and bogged down the story; the direction of this tale was on pause as the characters talked about the Chinese government. I was bored to tears. I found myself scanning most of those sections to see what else would happen which was Nothing! I like fiction with current affairs integrated when it’s done well; even Dan Brown made history entertaining and I’m not too enamored with his work. If you are a fan of this author’s work, pick this up. If you are not familiar with Henning Mankell’s work, avoid this and try his other series. As a stand alone work of fiction, The Man From Beijing was weak, uninteresting, and bland.
Author: Rebecca Walker
Published by: Riverhead Books (2001)
Rebecca is the product of a biracial and bicoastal home. In her memoir, she recounts her sexual experiences, her identity crisis (is she white, Jewish, or black?), and everything in between.
What is missing in her memoir are the spaces in between – there weren’t enough instances where the reader (well, this reader anyway) was too involved in her story. There was an emotional distance prevalent in the tale. The writing wasn’t particularly salient, novel, or fresh. There were run on sentences that drove me crazy or places that were incomplete.
As a person of color myself, I was able to relate to her identity crisis (am I American or Dominican, or both?) but I wanted more. She was the daughter of a famous and well-renowned African-American author; why didn’t we hear more about that? I comprehended this book was about her and not her mother but Alice Walker was her mother, after all. She also recounted many friends from the different coasts she lived from year to year – which I could not keep track of for the life of me.
This book was lacking insight; I kept thinking, “Okay, so what?” Almost like an essay with a good thesis statement and not enough examples to prove her point. A decent portrait of her childhood but not enough to keep this reader vastly interested in her story.
Author: Jean Kwok
Published by: Riverhead Books (2010)
Kimberly Chang and her mother move from China to New York through the help and efforts of her aunt. In order to survive, both Kim and her mother work at the sewing factory the aunt runs and live (squat) in an absolutely awful apartment with subpar conditions. Continue reading
Author: Haruki Murakami
Published by: Vintage International (2009)
Murakami has run marathons for about twenty years and this book are his musings during marathon training. He seamlessly discusses the life of a writer and how running every morning aids his writing process.
When a writer friend suggested this book to me, I said to myself, “When I read this book, I’m going to train again.”
After the completion of Murakami’s memoir, I am focused on my goal to complete a full marathon. This year I am not eligible to run in the ING NYC marathon but I am going to join a running class to keep me motivated.
Diligence, determination, and discipline: three tools prominent in Murakami’s memoir that I can use to be successful in both my writing practice and marathon training.
This book can appeal to everyone because apart from being a memoir about running and writing, it’s also a memoir about Murakami’s life (well, a part of his life). He’s witty, honest, and candid about his running and writing career; his forthrightness is respectable because he’s not trying to be anyone he’s not – just himself.
I devoured this book in two weeks (or less, I think which is a record for me because distractions come up often for me) and it’s a pretty small book.
Anyone interested in Murakami, reading, writing, or memoirs, pick the book up. You will not be disappointed.
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Published by: Crown Publishers (2010)
Henrietta Lacks, born in Virginia, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951. She was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital where a sample of her cancer cells were taken for testing without her knowledge. After she died, her cancer cells multiplied and scientists were able to use her cells for curing diseases all over the world. Continue reading
Author: Jessica Hendra with Blake Morrison
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers (2005)
Jessica Hendra recounts her tale of surviving childhood sexual abuse from her father,well-known satirist Tony Hendra. The book starts in action: her father’s book, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul is published and upon a friend mentioning the reviews about the book, she reads the book herself. Then all those painful memories flood back as she writes an Op-Ed piece to The New York Times about the missing sections from her father’s book. Continue reading
When I woke up this morning, I didn’t think I would’ve spent the whole afternoon reading a memoir written by Jessica Hendra (book review will be up soon). The most exciting thing about sitting down and reading a well-written book is how involved you become in the story. I did not want to put this book down but alas, I have social engagements awaiting me and also, writing assignments to be completed.
I love how I can use my time however I want, with no disturbances and relax. After a crappy Thursday, my weekend is starting on a high note.
Enjoy your weekend everyone! I sure will!
Author: Nicole Braddock Bromley
Published by Moody Publishers (2007)
The author of this book discusses her journey from the effects of her sexual abuse to healing through the love of God. Her stepfather sexually abused her and when confronted with the repercussions, commits suicide. Nicole starts junior high school with this on her mind but she gets through it with the support of her mother, new stepfather, and God. Continue reading