Reading Highlights – January 2014

Last month I managed to complete six books. This is in line with a trend from the end of last year and seems to confirm that I have slowed down quite a bit when it comes to reading. Two of the books were in audio form and for the first time I read one on my ipad. The list was made up of two crime novels – The Princess of Burundi, a murder mystery by Swedish author, Kjell Eriksson and The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, the third in the Inspector Adamsberg series by French writer Fred Vargas. Both were good, well written, solid crime mysteries. Three non crime fiction novels were in my collection from last month. Americanah by Nigerian writer Chimamada Ngozi Adichie is a wonderful tale about Nigerians trying to find success in America. The other two were Tuya, by Argentian author Claudia Piñeiro, and Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith. This is an early novel from his Isabel Dalhousie series in which the Edinburgh philosopher pokes her nose into the affairs of her friends and acquaintances. Gentle and uplifting tales, full of humour. The final book was The General’s Son, a non fiction book by Israeli writer Miko Peled. Americanah was the standout book from last month, which I have already reviewed here. Two other books also deserve a special mention.

portada-tuyaThis was the novel which I downloaded to my ipad for my first experience of this form of reading. Very to do and very easy to read on the ipad. Tuya is a very short novel, more a novella, by one of my favourite authors, Claudia Piñeiro from Argentina. I have previously read another of her novels – Las Viudas de los Jueves, which is an excellent indictment of the upper classes of Buenos Aires. My review of that novel can be found here. Though short, Tuya packs a lot into its pages. There are two murders, but there is no mystery as to who committed them. Rather it is how the two key protagonists act in response to the first murder which is the key to the novel. Inés accidentally discovers a love note to her husband, Ernesto, from someone who signs it Tuya, Yours in Spanish. Determined to find out who her husband’s secret lover is, she embarks on a downward spiral of intrigue, spying and deceit, all in the attempt to keep her husband from the clutches of her mysterious rival. There is a decided air of black humour to the writing as none of the main characters are very likeable. A very good and intriguing novel, which keeps you in suspense till beyond the final page.

13540289The General in question was Matti Peled, one of the military heroes of Israel. He was an unquestioning Zionist who championed and fought for the right of Jews to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. However after the conquest of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967 he increasingly opposed the occupation. His son, Miko Peled at first followed in his father’s footsteps both as a staunch Zionist and as a willing participant in the Israeli military. Like his father, Miko too came to question the occupation and its corrosive impact on Israel. Miko left Israel and settled in the States as a martial arts instructor in San Diego. He remained on the periphery of developments in Israel until tragedy struck his family. His 13 year niece was killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Out of this trauma though the family and in particular Miko, decided to learn more about the Palestinians and why some would want to become suicide bombers. Prior to this he had hardly met a Palestinian. Now began a quest to encounter and meet with as an equal his Palestinian brothers and sisters. The book recounts the life of his father and more importantly Miko’s own journey from Zionist to campaigner for a One State in which Jews and Palestinians can live as equals. At times a very moving story as he faces up to his own fears and prejudices prior to overcoming them. A very recommendable book for an insight into the pressures on Israelis.

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