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Current Readings

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This week BTT asks:

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

The one book that I’m focusing on is Ghostwritten by David Mitchell. I chose the book because I have always wanted to read David Mitchell, whose new book, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, was longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize. I read somewhere that Cloud Atlas consists of six different stories that march forward, and then backward, through time. Each of the characters narrates the first half of their stories which make up the first half of the book. Intrigued by Mitchell’s style and impressed by press reviews, I decided to start from his debut. Ghostwritten consists of linked narratives of nine characters from all over the world. I am in the middle of the fourth narrative, which takes place in a revered locale called Holy Mountain in China. I cannot yet make of the connections between these people but am keeping my fingers crossed. These events are more like coincidental events rather than interlinked for now. I have a feeling these connections are very subtle.

I rarely read more than one book at a time but I am also flipping through Theft by Peter Carey, who is shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize for Parrot and Olivier in America. Like Mitchell, Carey is a new author for me. Another reason to peruse him is that he is from Australia, a country of which the literature I absolutely know nothing about. That he has been a two-time Booker Prize winner makes his works more appealing, even though I don’t always agree with the panel of judges. Anne Enright would be a good example. The Gathering is well-written but it’s a stretch to be awarded the prize. A peripheral reading goal is to explore English-language authors who are not from the United States and England: authors from Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Peter Carey fits perfectly in this criterion.

9 Responses

  1. I agree with you on “The Gathering” Matt. I read it last week and it gave me a Meh! feeling. I have just finished reading Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner this week and felt how on earth did this book beat JG Ballard’s “Empire of the Sun” in 1984 to win the Man booker prize?

    I hope “The Life & Time of Michael K” by JM Coetzee who wins the Man Booker Prize is not a disappointment though. Do read JM Coetzee’s novels, he is my favourite and writes a good social commentary and critics about South Africa. You can check my review on his “Disgrace” on my blog. Potentially my favourite book this year.

  2. Cloud Atlas is great and so is another of his other books, Black Swan Green. I haven’t read Jacob de Zoet yet but it’s on my Kindle. Seems like all of Mitchell’s books are really different, which is unusual. Glad to discover your blog! I used to live in SF a long time ago. City Lights is a great place but I just like used bookstores better… Hope you enjoy Ghostwritten.

  3. I’m a fan of Mitchell’s, though I haven’t read his latest. I’m not drawn to it right now. Maybe after reading you on it.

  4. I love to read more than one book at a time. Right now its between The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet and The Irish Signorina – two contrasts if ever there was one. I’m finding the David Mitchell hard going though.

  5. I wish I had enough self-discipline to make myself stick with one book until I finish it. But I can never resist adding one more book to the “currently reading” pile. Cloud Atlas is one I’ve had on my TBR list for quite a while, and it looks like Ghostwritten is going on the list, too.

    Enjoy your reading!

  6. Oh, I think that The Gathering was absolutely beautifully written but, having said that, I found it an incredibly hard read: so emotionally draining. I felt loss-soaked by the time I finished, and it has left me a little afraid of Anne Enright’s other fiction. ::lol:: Am quite looking forward to trying some David Mitchell though: I’m eyeing Cloud Atlas for next month, having nearly given up on the library request for Ghostwritten that you’re reading now.

  7. I hated THE GATHERING. For me it’s probably the worst Booker winner I’ve read so far. I love Peter Carey though- I’ve only read OSCAR AND LUCINDA start to finish but it was enough to make me a fan for life. I read part of PARROT & OLIVIER but it was too picaresque for me even though I thought it was well-crafted, for a picaresque. Coetzee is a genius- I think you would love DISGRACE. Another author to check out is Adam Schwarzman whose EDDIE SIGNWRITER wasn’t nominated for the Booker but should have been (he’s from South Africa). Anyway enjoy the Mitchell(s); I’ve never read him but maybe one of these days.

  8. I have never heard of David Mitchell until recently and now I feel like he is all over the place. Sounds interesting!

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