It’s summer, so we’ve asked The World’s book critic Chris Merrill for some good beach reads – or for those of us in parts of the country that are totally water logged, good rainy day reads.
Chris never fails to connect us with good books from all over the globe – here are his recommendations:
Censoring an Iranian Love Story
by Shahriar Mandanipour
How to tell a love story in a country where the censor wields the most powerful pen, striking from manuscripts any hint of passion? This is what the acclaimed Iranian writer Shahriar Mandanipour explores in his inventive novel, which offers not only a pair of love stories but also a fascinating portrait of the Islamic Republic—and gallows humor on nearly every page. Tired of writing what he calls “dark and bitter stories, stories populated by ghosts and dead narrators with predictable endings of death and destruction,” he promises to tell the oldest story of all, even if it cannot appear in the country in which it is set. And what an unnerving story it is.
by Richard Flanagan
publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
The destinies of real-life characters—an Aboriginal girl, Charles Dickens, the polar explorer Sir John Frankland and his wife Lady Jane—intersect in this beguiling historical novel, which the author describes as “a meditation on desire—the cost of its denial, the centrality and force of its power in human affairs.” Flanagan expertly juxtaposes scenes from his native Tasmania and its colonial legacy, its near-total destruction of Aboriginal life, and nineteenth-century London, where the most famous novelist of the day is undergoing a midlife crisis, to crack the frozen seas within the hearts of—well, all who give themselves over to a book titled Wanting.
Been Here a Thousand Years
by Mariolina Venezia
(translated from the Italian by Marina Harss)
publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
If you can’t travel to Italy this summer, here’s the next best thing: an imaginative journey through a century and a half of history in an Italian hill town and five tumultuous generations of the Falcolne family—a grand tour of passions and complications and the timeless rhythms of a country in the midst of enormous changes. Venezia, a Rome-based poet and screenwriter, is a born storyteller, who uses an economy of means and a wry sense of humor to sketch out tale upon fantastic tale—of olive oil running in the streets, of hidden barrels filled with cash, of men and women caught in the nets of their emotions. This novel spring them free.