(2015) The Year in Books – Part Three

[In Part Three of my review of my favourite books of 2015 I finish up the list with Helen MacDonald’s ‘H is for Hawk’, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s ‘I Do Not Come to You by Chance’, Tove Jansson’s ‘The Summer Book’, Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’, and Ogawa Yoko’s ‘Revenge’.]

HIsForHawk

Helen MacDonald – H is for Hawk

After the death of her father, Helen MacDonald buys and starts training a young goshawk. Lauded by many as a memoir beautifully dealing with grief, and the process of coming to terms with tragedy, I think it’s something kind of different. To me H is for Hawk is a memoir beautifully dealing with the avoidance of grief, and the process of ignoring tragedy in favour of something else.

In taking in the young, unsteady goshawk, MacDonald’s world begins to revolve around it. She spends countless hours attempting to deal with the aggressive, temperamental, at first frightened, bird. Gradually she’s pulled from her regular life into a headspace where the only thing that seems like it matters is the goshawk, and every up and down takes on some colossal, primal importance.

This memoir begins to interweave with a biography of T.H. White, author of the Arthurian novel The Once and Future King, as well as The Goshawk – an account of his own time struggling, and ultimately failing to train a young goshawk. At first seemingly only related by their choice of Goshawks as subject matter, these two narratives begin to mirror each other in far rawer ways. White’s attempts to deal with his unruly goshawk are often misguided and even cruel, but like MacDonald, betray someone trying desperately not to come to terms with something.

They both have their share of grief, and things they need to address, but in large part they don’t do that. They focus everything on the goshawk, and in doing so their struggle with the bird takes on a new importance. A small success in training becomes a revelatory experience, and a failure or setback becomes reason for deep, personal hurt. Spending hours whistling for your bird in the rain as it steadfastly ignores you is no longer just about the bird. The feelings of grief latch onto this new obsession, and it becomes a kind of proxy – a way of dealing with and overcoming grief by ignoring it completely.

Carried on by MacDonald’s beautiful prose – at times raw and emotionally cutting, at times stony-eyed and obfuscating – H is for Hawk explores a side of grief that is far more complex and untidy than we might like to think.

IDoNotComeToYouByChance

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani – I Do Not Come to You by Chance

A recent graduate, Kingsley is trying to find a decent job as an engineer to support his family and win over the love of his life. But competition is intense, and the job market in Nigeria right now is no great shakes anyway. His family problems start to mount, and money starts slipping away, and very suddenly he’s being groomed for a job with his uncle – the ludicrously successful email scam magnate known to as Cash Daddy.

What follows is Kingsley’s descent/ascent into the lucrative, morally dark-dark-grey-black world of scamming wealthy westerners out ludicrous amounts of money. I Do Not Come to You by Chance is a funny, honest exploration of this kind of life, and the modern face of Nigerian politics and economics. Kingsley changes a great deal throughout the novel – away from his naive, hard-working, and honest origins and towards a cunning, persuasive, self-justifying scammer. But sometimes his self-justifications are convincing, and he is providing for a lot of people who otherwise might have nothing.

Throughout, it’s morally complex, and manages to avoid the tiresome hubris-and-nemesis that these kinds of stories just cannot get away from. It’s not a morally-instructive tale, where Kingsley learns the error of his ways and gives up his fortune, or else dies in a hail of gunfire. There are just actions and consequences – some good, some bad, some not quite either – but all believable and none feeling like simply a narrative conceit designed to make a grand point. It doesn’t condemn Kingsley’s actions, and it doesn’t revel in them either. It presents a person’s actions, their consequences, and the context – both personal, economic, socio-political, etc. – that led them there. That it does so in such a personal, witty way is icing on the cake.

TheSummerBook

Tove Jansson – The Summer Book

From the author of The Moomins and the Great Flood, Comet in Moominland, Moominsummer Madness, The Exploits of Moominpappa,  Tales from Moominvalley, Moominpappa at Sea, and loads of other books about Moomins, comes a book 100% not about Moomins, but instead about a young girl Sophia, her father, and her grandmother living on a remote island in the gulf of Finland for the summer.

The Summer Book is lovely and charming. Sophia is alternately naive, childish, curious, stroppy, playful, and stubborn, but unlike 95% of all children in fiction is neither (a) incredibly cloying, nor (b) wise beyond their years (and incredibly cloying). Her grandmother is world-weary, childish, curious, stroppy, playful, and stubborn, and their relationship with one another is the backbone of the novel.

Placed very firmly in the Cannery Row genre of ‘Nothing really happens but it’s just really nice’, The Summer Book follows such compelling narrative beats as ‘Sophia is bored’, ‘Her grandmother wants to have a nap’, and ‘Her grandmother is annoyed that some rich guy moved onto a nearby island and he’s probably some kind of dick’. There’s an almost storybook, Oliver Postgate-esque BBC children’s cartoon approach to the proceedings, which I guess makes sense considering, you know, Moomins. But while it’s light-hearted and charming throughout, there’s a string of sadness and real weight traced throughout, dealing with transience, and endings, and death.

The Summer Book feels like a vaguely-remembered childhood summer holiday in the countryside – you explore the surrounding trees and scrublands, eat ice cream and get it down your hands, jump into the swimming pool over and over again, then go to bed and do it again the next day. But one night you can’t get to sleep and you lay there looking up at the bunkbed above you feeling a kind of strange muted sadness you can’t yet and never will be able to put into words. Then you wake up the next day and run down to the beach and have fun again.

TheNameoftheRose

Umberto Eco – The Name of the Rose

Italy in 1327. An apparent suicide occurs at a monastery, and the recently arrived William of Baskerville is called upon to investigate the circumstances of the death. Soon after, another death occurs, and then another, all under mysterious circumstances. William starts searching for a murderer, and is drawn again and again to the abbey’s library – famous for its voluminous collection, but also the source of strange rumours, and strictly off-limits to all but the librarian.

So, in a sense a murder mystery, but not really. There are murders, and clues, and a motive that are searched for and eventually discovered, but The Name of the Rose is a book deeply in love with its setting, moreso than anything else. It explores the lives of the monks in great, loving detail – their schedules, their reading habits, their arguments about their reading habits, and the theological and political machinations occurring throughout Europe that seep into their day-to-day lives. And while at times there are bursts of action, and everything moves very fast, for the most part it moves at the ponderous, unhurried speed of life in this abbey in northern Italy in the early 14th century.

It’s a novel that takes a lot of patience, and probably a laptop open to Wikipedia if you don’t happen to remember all the 14th century political and theological studies you no doubt learnt at school. But if you can ease yourself into the slow, endlessly intricate and dense world of the abbey, you’re rewarded with something so special it’s impossible to describe. Umberto Eco’s beautiful prose brings to life a world so ornate and numinous, yet warm and human that I read 500 pages and never wanted to leave. For all the murder and long discussions concerning the suffering of Jesus, reading The Name of the Rose feels like slipping into a warm bath. I read this book nearly eight months ago now and I still think about it regularly. It’s difficult and weighty, and it expects you to keep up with a lot, but every bit of effort you put in will be returned to you ten times over.

Revenge

Ogawa Yoko – Revenge

Last year I fell in love with Ogawa’s collection of three novellas The Diving Pool, Pregnancy Diary, and Dormitory. I couldn’t put my view of her writing better than the Hilary Mantel quote on my copy of the book (see the picture above). She has a way of drilling down into tiny moments, observations, spasms of unstructured feeling, that is incredibly beautiful and disquieting, and at times downright nauseating.

This year I read most of the rest of her English-translated work in the form of her novel Hotel Iris (Ogawa’s cold, eerie look at the world turns to sexual matters, with a result that’s unsurprisingly disquieting, but also surprisingly touching and (to use the least erotic word ever) erotic. I loved Hotel Iris, but I loved Revenge even more.)

A collection of eleven short stories, Revenge continues with Ogawa’s unique, approach and applies it to a series of disconnected scenes – some mundane, some teetering on the edge of otherworldly (but never quite falling over the edge). A young woman stumbles upon a museum dedicated to torture, on a quite backstreet. A writer forms a polite friendship with their slightly peculiar, slightly troubling neighbour. A woman is born with her heart on the outside, and enlists a bag-maker to sew her something to keep it safe. The stories are dark; occasionally outright violent, or teetering on the edge of sadistic (again, never quite falling), and there’s a fantastic, subtle conceit you might only notice after the first few stories (that I won’t talk about for fear of spoiling the moment of discovery).

Ogawa’s writing definitely isn’t for everyone, but you really should give her a go – her writing is all short and easy to get through, and you’ll probably know after the first dozen or so pages if it’s something you’ll get on with. She’s quickly become one of my favourite writers anyhow, and I’m hoping more of her work gets translated soon because I’ve only got one left (The Housekeeper and the Professor) to go.

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(2015) The Year in Books – Part Two

[In Part Two of my review of my favourite books of 2015 I write a couple of paragraphs about some books deserving of far more attention, and Too Many paragraphs about an obscure novel that everyone but me thinks is rubbish.]

TheMiner

Natsume Soseki – The Miner

I’d been meaning to read something by Soseki since I moved to Japan two years ago, but I was always put off by their standing as ‘classic literature’ – novels a hundred or so years old that you see piled up in a corner of Waterstones; their English translations so ancient they require a second act of translation just to read them comfortably; their covers featuring strangely off-putting oil paintings of imperious women in petticoats and big hats. I’m not sure what it is, but I spent a period reading a decent number of ‘Classics’ and the best I came away with was that Crime and Punishment would be a pretty great book if we didn’t have to check in every thirty pages on Raskolnikov’s sister and her impending marriage to a boring man who didn’t matter.

Anywaymy hangups aside, I decided to read a Soseki novel, and, not knowing anything about his novels, I just picked out the first one that seemed interesting. That one was The Miner, and I’m very glad I didn’t do any research beforehand, because if I had I probably never would have read it. Because everybody but me seems to hate it.

The Miner‘s set-up has a fair amount in common with The Catcher in the Rye . Its naive-yet-world-weary protagonist (here a 19 year-old heir to a wealthy aristocratic family in Tokyo) runs away from home, but instead of wandering around New York and having an epiphany about his life, he gets roped into becoming a copper miner, descends into the lonely bowels of the earth, has an epiphany about his life, immediately forgets about it, gets really scared for a bit, kind of has another epiphany, then works for a few months as a bookkeeper and eventually gives up and goes home.

It sounds messy, and it is. The whole story is related stream-of-consciousness style by its nameless narrator as he encounters various people and places, describes his thoughts on them, explains why he thought that specifically, ponders why exactly he thought that specifically, and then eventually remembers to stop ruminating and get back to the story. It’s the kind of writing style that could easily become throw-book-against-wall irritating, as it constantly interrupts the action. And as I mentioned above – everyone seems to hate it. Pretty much everyone at the time, and most people since, even big fans of Soseki’s work, seem to either hates The Miner, or at best regards it as a weird, slightly embarrassing outlier among his other novels.

I can definitely see why people get frustrated by it, but to my mind not only are these interruptions consistently interesting and amusing, slowly-building up a surprisingly endearing portrait of its awkward, obnoxious protagonist, they’re the reason The Miner stands out as such an honest, touchingly personal book – one that has a hell of a lot more to say than most people seem to have given it credit for. Instead of being a coming-of-age story where the protagonist relates his difficult experiences and how they changed him for the better, The Miner puts its narrative to one side and goes all in on stripping its central character back piece by piece to explore his mental processes, and the way he makes sense of the world around him.

The protagonist of The Miner isn’t a character from a novel; sketched into being by clear aims and strong, definable motivations (as the book itself takes great pains to point out). Instead he’s an attempt by Soseki to capture the way real people actually are – changeable and contradictory. Sometimes high-minded and sometimes petty. Often thinking of themselves as characters with set motivations existing on a coherent narrative path, but actually wandering from place to place, cobbled together from a million tiny influences that even they themselves can’t hope to name.

We see the character’s pettiness, his high-mindedness, his arbitrary whims, and his painstaking introspection. And we also see, throughout his experiences, the way his thoughts, feelings, and even patterns of thinking are surprisingly malleable. A moment of absolute confidence suddenly gives way to feelings of helplessness with very little outside influence, only to be replaced by a life-changing epiphany that seems set to change the entire course of the narrative, only to crumble apart at the slightest touch.

At the risk of sounding pretentious at the start of the eighth paragraph of my review of an obscure Soseki novel that everyone else hates but which apparently I alone see the True Value of, I think it’s  one of the best, most honest representation of what it’s like to be a person I’ve ever read. It might be more narratively satisfying to have characters act with definite purpose and strong, consistent motivations, but The Miner shows us how people really are most of the time – just existing; acting and reacting in accordance not with deep-rooted pillars of Character and Ethics and Motivations, but with however a thousand different variables have collected together to make them feel on that day.

You can argue that the book itself isn’t interesting enough – and while I’d say the writing is sharp and witty, and strangely optimistic throughout, plenty of people clearly disagree. But you’d be hard-pressed to say that it isn’t honest. That alone makes it worth reading, in my opinion (but I also really hope you like it as much as I did).
Encylopedia_of_Early_Earth

Isabel Greenberg – The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

The only comic on my list (so feel free to get angry at me for calling them comics rather than the incredibly forced ‘graphic novels’), The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, is a lovely example of the form. It’s a colourful, humorous, and very lighthearted set of creation stories and myths chronicling the travels of a storyteller through early earth.

The art is always striking – with a simple, sketched style and muted colours that sometimes give way to splashes of bright red and yellow and orange. The characterisation and dialogue skilfully walks that fine line between gently whimsical and cloyingly kooky, with clever jokes and the all-time best portrayal of a creator god in fiction with the character of BirdMan – a cross between an all-knowing cosmic architect, a bored trickster god, and slightly depressing dad figure, complete with an incredibly short, but impotent temper.

Short and sweet, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is inventive, self-aware without being self-indulgent, simple without being lightweight, and touching in all the right places.

TheBriefWondrousLifeofOscarWao

Junot Díaz – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Díaz is one of those rare writers who are so good at the pure act of writing sentences on a page that it’s hard not to resent them for it. People say things like ‘Her voice is so beautiful I’d pay to hear her read a shopping list’. Well, I’d pay upwards of £9.99 to read Junot Díaz’s account of  his most recent trip to the supermarket. Every single sentence of his prose (both in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and in his short story collections) is perfectly done – sticking to the page with a heft, flowing with an incredible ease, and containing that special something you can’t describe but you know you really, really want.

Oscar Wao is the story of Oscar De León, an ineffective, overweight, socially maladroit Dominican kid living in New Jersey, along with the story of 30 years of the dictator Trujilo’s stranglehold on the Dominican Republic. I read it about a year ago and I don’t have too much to say about it other than that, among other things it does extremely well, it captures the awkward desperation of a less-than-popular adolescence just about as well as I could imagine fiction doing.

Out

Kirino Natsuo – Out

I don’t read much crime fiction – as any other good, upright man I’ve looked at it, seen that it’s predominantly enjoyed by women, and then subconsciously decided I don’t like it, but for other reasons. After reading Out, though, I’m definitely starting to see the potential pitfalls of blindly judging an entire genre of fiction based on preconceived notions of its value.

The setup, then: A young woman working the graveyard shift at a bento factory murders her deadbeat husband in a fit of blind rage, then turns to several of her co-workers to help dispose of the body. Everything that follows (even that bit later on that comes out of left-field and becomes the focus of the whole narrative, in a twist that at first feels kind of arbitrary but actually works really well with what the book is trying to do sorry for being so vague) is a deft exploration both of the darker aspects of ordinary people, and the darker side of Japanese society.

Well, ‘the darker side of Japanese society’ isn’t really right though – Out is less interested in the sociopathic world of murder, blackmail, extortion, or the Yakuza (although all that is definitely there, sometimes in great detail), and more interested in the humdrum, far less sexy cracks running across Japanese society – things that those outside Japan almost never hear about. The drudgery of labour, the relationship-straining mountains of stress and overtime that so many jobs force upon workers, the role of women and the way they’re commodified, set aside, and ignored, and then actively (and sometimes aggressively) marginalised if they try to overcome this barrier. An ageing society with fewer and fewer economic prospects for both the young and the old. And the complicated, rather unhappy relationship Japan has with foreigner residents – especially the large population of Japanese-Brazilian workers.

 Out is also a crime story, of course, with suspense and nail-biting tension, and pretty disturbing depictions of suffering and mutilation. But rather than being two part tenuously linked, it marries these two aspects incredibly well – using one to explore and deepen the impact of the other.
It’s a book about loneliness, and isolation, and death and murder, but it’s also a book that’s clearly very angry at the state of contemporary Japanese society (and almost 20 years later it’s hard to find it any less relevant). It takes a long, detailed look at the role of women in Japan and finds it incredibly wanting (its points only made stronger by the fact that quite a few critics at the time chastised her for writing crime stories, when women should only ever write romance stories (yes I know this is actually a real thing that happened in the world)). That Out manages to wrap up this tired,muted anger with a twist-and-turns crime story of such potency without it feeling uneven or pieced-together is very, very impressive.
[Next time, in Part Three – Ogawa Yoko’s ‘Revenge’, Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’, Tove Jansson’s ‘The Summer Book’, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s ‘I Do Not Come to You by Chance’, and Helen Macdonald’s ‘H is for Hawk’.]
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(2015) The Year in Books – Part One

[This is Part One (of three) of my review of my favourite books I read in 2015. None of them were actually written in 2015, but they’re all well worth reading if you’re into early 20th century Japanese aristocratic ennui, small Scandinavian archipelagos, disquieting fruit and vegetables, falconry as metaphor for struggles with repressed homosexuality, the latent darkness inside us all, historically-dubious Vikings, bento factory murder, social maladroit Dominican-American immigrants, 419 scams, and Medieval semiotics, respectively. In this post I’m going to go over my reading goals for 2015 and 2016, then talk about my absolute favourite book of 2015. Parts two through four will talk about my nine remaining favourite books of the year.]

Goals for 2015:

Goal #1: Read 36 books in 2015.

Result: I read 35 and a half, so fair enough.

Grade: B+

Goal #2: Keep the gender balance of authors roughly equal. (I didn’t keep much of an eye on this, but I hoped that after a year of only reading books by women in 2014 I wouldn’t naturally just fall back to predominantly reading male authors.)

Result: Books by men – 17. Books by women – 18. So fair enough.

Grade: A

Goal #3: Read more books from different countries across the world, especially books in translation.

Result: At best I half-managed this: America (9), Japan (9), the UK (4), Nigeria (3), Finland (2), The Dominican Republic/America (2), Canada (1), Ireland (1), Italy (1), Sweden (1), Argentina (1), and Chile (1) (full list at the bottom of this post). Obviously there’s nothing wrong with engaging with media from cultures you’re familiar with, but reading more broadly has only given me good results in the past, so I’m keen to continue and try to improve upon this goal in 2016.

Grade: C- (see me after class)

Overall: Pretty good. 3/5 stars. Also pretty lucky: I read relatively few books I didn’t like this year, and only one I actually hated (Do not read The Changeling by Oe Kenzaburo – it is hot garbage).

Grade: B

the-changeling

Don’t read this book.

Goals for 2016:

So, onto 2016. No huge arbitrary restrictions here, but a few general things I want to aim towards:

Goal #1: read 36 books, preferably a few more.

Pretty self-explanatory: three books a month seems like a reasonable goal considering I’m (a) busy, and (b) lazy.

Goal #2: read more books in translation, especially from countries whose literature you know sod all about.

Again, pretty self-explanatory, since this is a re-do of my half-passed-half-failed goal from 2015. Loads more books from Japan seems likely next year, but I also want to focus on the rest of East Asia, as well as Russia, Nigeria, and so on.

Goal #3: read more non-fiction

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, but in the last two years I’ve only averaged around 2-3 non-fiction books a year. In 2016 I want to read more memoirs, essays, and books about history (especially Japanese history, as I know relatively little about the history of the country I live in other than that the Warring States period was brilliant, and that the Korean admiral Yi Sun-sin was also pretty great).

My favourite book of 2015:

And with that, I’ll talk about my absolute favourite book of 2015. As always, though I try to avoid spoilers, these reviews are still going to have an impact on a first reading of the books in question. I loved all these books, so by all means go out and read the book yourself before reading the reviews. (but then remember to come back and read the reviews. And like and subscribe to the blog. And make sure to link any reviews you enjoyed to your friends (using Google’s URL tracking tool, and then emailing me the relevant data). And follow us on Beebo.)

WolfinWhiteVan

Do read this book.

John Darnielle – Wolf in White Van

Sean Phillips is the creator of the play-by-mail roleplaying game Trace Italian, which enjoys at-best moderate cult success. Slowly developed by a bedridden, teenage Sean during the gruelling months-long recuperation after an unspecified accident, the game is a sprawling, brooding, post-American wasteland that tasks the player with reaching the world’s one remaining safe haven – the titular fortress: the Trace Italian.

Years later, living a quiet life closed off by disability and severe disfigurement, Trace Italian offers Sean a modicum of interaction with the outside world through the exchange of letters with its few remaining players.

Wolf in White Van is a wonderful representation of the power of games, fantasy, and the act of artistic creation as a means of handling, and interpreting the world around us – not always in wholly positive ways. Post-accident, Trace Italian helps Sean to deal with pain, with boredom, and with isolation. This relationship is at the heart of the book, but we also look back to see how teenage Sean devotes himself to certain strains of heavy metal, and how, even younger, he’s drawn into dark, violent fantasy novels.

Wolf in White Van is primarily interested not just in art and creation as palliative treatment in a difficult, confusing world, but also as a way of channelling something strange and unintelligible within us. Don’t worry – this isn’t cliché scraping-back-the-veneer-of-polite-civilisation-to-reveal-the-darkness-beneath that you might expect from the above description. Nor does it take the angle of ‘Heavy Metal corrupted my children into worshipping Satan’, either.

It deals with dark thoughts and genuinely disturbing ideas – things you don’t like to think about, that no one else ever sees but that you fear, at least at times, utterly define you. And that, for some people, for whatever reason, sometimes get the chance to do so. But instead of attempting to shine a light on some dark, animalistic evil that’s apparently hiding within us all, it’s something much more honest: an unsure acknowledgement that there is something inside us. Not something dark or evil, not really – but something that resists examination, and that affects us in ways we can’t fully understand.

It’s an examination of the muddier side of the human mind that feels incredibly honest and, despite the sometimes extreme nature of events, relatable. The toughts and impulses that can come to you from who knows where; the ways of acting that startle even yourself; the patterns of thinking that don’t corrupt you, or make you a bad person, but that are strange and kind of terrifying. and usually come without any form of catharsis.

(Next time, in Part Two – Natsume Sōseki’s ‘The Miner’, Isabel Greenberg’s ‘The Encyclopedia of Early Earth’, Junot Díaz’s ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’, and Kirino Natsuo’s ‘Out’.)

My full list for 2015:

(Books in bold are highly recommended)
Shirley Jackson – We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Helen Macdonald – H is for Hawk
Junot Díaz – This is How You Lose Her
Isabel Greenberg – The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
David Mitchell – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Kirino Natsuo – Out
Ogawa Yoko – Revenge
Colm Tóibín – Brooklyn
Mizuki Shigeru – Showa: a History of Japan, 1926-1939
Siri Hustvedt – The Blazing World
Tove Jansson – The Summer Book
Angélica Gorodischer – Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was
Karin Tidbeck – Jagannath: Stories
Amos Tutuola – The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Tanizaki Junichiro – Some Prefer Nettles
B.J. Novak – One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun
Junot Díaz – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
John Darnielle – Wolf in White Van
Mishima Yukio – The Sound of Waves
Ursula K. Le Guin – A Wizard of Earthsea
Oe Kenzaburo – The Changeling
Roberto Bolano – By Night in Chile
Adaobi Tricia Obinne Nwaubani – I Do Not Come to You by Chance
John Green – The Fault in Our Stars
Gabrielle Zevin – The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being
Murakami Haruki – The Strange Library
Ogawa Yoko – Hotel Iris
Umberto Eco – The Name of the Rose
Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice
Jim Crace – Harvest
Natsume Soseki – The Miner
Sylvia Plath – The Colossus
Sofi Oksanen – When the Doves Disappeared

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