Today’s Friday Finds include these three:
Angel Time by Anne Rice
Toby O’Dare — a.k.a. Lucky the Fox — has fallen far from grace. He is a contract killer who carries out violence whenever and wherever he is told, a soulless soul who takes orders from someone he calls “The Right Man.” When a mysterious stranger comes into Lucky’s nightmarish world and offers him a chance to save lives rather than destroy them, Lucky seizes the opportunity to escape the darkness. He is lifted in (angel) time and carried back through the ages to the primitive and treacherous world of thirteenth-century England, where Jews live an uneasy existence. He begins a journey that leads him from the medieval villages of England to the cities of London and Paris as his quest becomes a story of danger and flight, loyalty and betrayal, selflessness and love.
Note: I miss Lestat. I miss Armand. I even miss whiny Louis. I’m willing to give this book a chance after she turned to God. If it’s too preachy then I won’t continue as I’m not into that sort of stuff. However I have to admit this book looks mighty interesting!
Lovely Green Eyes by Arnost Lustig
Prague-born Lustig (The Bitter Smell of Almonds) adds this chronicle of a resilient teenage girl to his highly regarded oeuvre of spare and haunting novels rooted in the Holocaust. The “lovely green eyes” of the title belong to 15-year-old Hanka “Skinny” Kaudersova, a shy, ginger-haired girl and the only member of her family to avoid death in Auschwitz. At first a cleaner in a camp hospital lab (where the doctor sterilizes her), she continues to evade extermination by lying about her age and her heritage (passing herself as Aryan) and is requisitioned as a prostitute in the German military field brothels. In a typical workday, Hanka services at least a dozen soldiers, many of whom are distraught and violent. Lustig presents the brothel clients as fully rounded characters, both viciously prejudiced against Jews and kind to the (Czech, they think) girl whose body they use. Constant hunger, freezing temperatures and disease further weaken Skinny’s spirit, but as the war ends, she realizes she must search for her place in a world built on ashes. A rabbi, who is himself drowning in despair, attempts to offer her solace, but she’s unable to shed her shame and guilt. Back in Prague, agonized by nightmarish memories, she settles in with a group of survivors and meets the narrator, whose declaration of love eventually thaws her heart. Lustig’s prose is evocative at the same time it is sparse, even during harrowing scenes of physical and mental cruelty. Aided by a fine translation, this is a stunning work, worthy of comparison to those by Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi. In imagining the ordeal of a young girl “who had looked on the devil 12 times a day,” Lustig has created an unforgettable character within whom “remembrance and oblivion contended,” but who still summons the courage to affirm life.
Note: Although this book looks extremely hard to read (because of subject matter) I’m interested in this, and am going to pick this up once I find it. (I’m in the mood for some serious stuff!)
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967 to form the independent nation of Biafra, a bloody, crippling three-year civil war followed. That period in African history is captured with haunting intimacy in this artful page-turner from Nigerian novelist Adichie (Purple Hibiscus). Adichie tells her profoundly gripping story primarily through the eyes and lives of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy who survives conscription into the raggedy Biafran army, and twin sisters Olanna and Kainene, who are from a wealthy and well-connected family. Tumultuous politics power the plot, and several sections are harrowing, particularly passages depicting the savage butchering of Olanna and Kainene’s relatives. But this dramatic, intelligent epic has its lush and sultry side as well: rebellious Olanna is the mistress of Odenigbo, a university professor brimming with anticolonial zeal; business-minded Kainene takes as her lover fair-haired, blue-eyed Richard, a British expatriate come to Nigeria to write a book about Igbo-Ukwu art—and whose relationship with Kainene nearly ruptures when he spends one drunken night with Olanna. This is a transcendent novel of many descriptive triumphs, most notably its depiction of the impact of war’s brutalities on peasants and intellectuals alike. It’s a searing history lesson in fictional form, intensely evocative and immensely absorbing.
Note: Although this doesn’t really look like my kind of read, this does look really interesting and I’ve been hearing lots of good things from African authors. So why not? books are like food right? you have to give it at least a taste 🙂
So what did you guys find?