Stikkordarkiv: Jorden rundt på 8 bøker

Minaret – Leila Aboulela

aboulela_minaret I finished Minaret towards the end of November, but have had a hard time finding something sensible to say about it.

I initially found the story fascinating, and at some point I felt I could understand how Najwa ended up going from ‘secular’ to ‘religious’. She never really belongs anywhere and once she ends up quite alone in London, it’s easy to understand how the mosque can feel welcoming in that it provides a sense of belonging and a sort of family. The novel also provides an interesting insight into islamic life in a western society from the inside.

However, Najwa is drawn to religion not just for the sense of belonging it provides, but also seems to find ‘religiosity’ (for lack of a better word), saintliness and religious devotion and submission attractive in itself. This is obviously not a unique trait, naturally I don’t think the entirety of the world’s population defining themselves as religious are just ‘in it for the community’. However, it’s an attraction I find it hard to understand, and this novel did not help me understand it any better (in fact, if anything, it left me more baffled).

Where everything that happens to Najwa underpins her need for a community, nothing – as far as I can see – explains this need for submission to a deity, to the contrary, several parts of her story would rather have me reject the idea that a god worth worshiping would sanction such things.

So, on the whole: Worth reading, but not entirely satisfactory.

Smakebit på en søndag: Minaret

aboulela_minaret

Jeg er i gang med den første boka fra Jorda rundt-listen for november, og så langt er jeg svært interessert i Najwas historie. Hittil er det en blanding av det trivielle og det fundamentale som tiltaler meg, for ofte er det trivielle symptomer på det fundamentale.

‘Last year we were in London and we didn’t fast at all.’
‘Really?’ I couldn’t even imagine Ramadam in London, London in Ramadan.
‘How can anyone fast in London? It would spoil all the fun.’

Flere smakebiter finner du på Flukten fra virkeligheten.

Jorden rundt: Afrika

Det ble dårlig med Nord-Amerika på meg, mest fordi jeg har To Kill a Mockingbird et eller annet sted, og hadde planer om å lese den, men jeg fant den ikke. Ellers var jeg jo så sen med septemberboka, at å tro jeg skulle rekke oktober kanskje var litt optimistisk.

Men Afrika i november kan jeg vel gå på med friskt mot, særlig siden jeg allerede er «ferdig med Finland» i den nordiske utfordringen (omtale følger). Jeg skal i alle fall se om jeg får tak i en eller fler av bøkene (de høres i grunn interessante ut alle sammen). Alle later til å være skrevet på engelsk orginalt, så da er det mulig jeg må bestille på nett (utvalget av engelske bøker i Trondheims bokhandler har ikke blitt bedre siden sist…).

Edit: Da ble det bestilling på Capris, gitt. Alle tre bøkene. Vi får se hva jeg rekker i løpet av november.

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter – Mario Vargas Llosa

llosa_aunt_juliaWell, I finished. Not in September, I grant you, but I hope I may be forgiven. I may also struggle with managing North America in October, I suspect, unless I locate my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird quite soon.

Now, then, what did I think about it?

To start off, it’s not the book’s fault that it’s taken me three weeks to finish. Neither is it the Kindle, though I had one occasion when I wanted to read where the battery was low and I had no charger, reading on the Kindle was mostly problem-free. I also loved the possibility of looking up words there and then, especially since Llosa (or, rather, Llosa’s translator) used a few words I didn’t understand. The slowness was an effect of the backlash I tend to get when I’ve been reading the Aubrey/Maturin series, since while rereading that I tend to spend all my so-called spare time reading, so when I finish I tend to read less for a couple of weeks (spending my time on the PC or even – gasp – watching television, instead).

Having said that, it did take a couple of chapters to get into Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, but once I did get into it, it seemed to flow by quite quickly.

The plot centers on Mario, an 18 year old aspiring writer who works at a radio station in Lima while studying law. Aunt Julia is a divorcee who comes to Lima to live with her sister (who is married to Mario’s uncle), and despite the age difference, the two fall for each other. Parallel to the love story runs the story of Pedro Camacho – the scriptwriter – who is hired by Mario’s employers to write the novelas (soap operas) that are broadcast by the station. The novel is autobiographical (something I’d partly guessed but which I only had confimed when I loked it up on Wikipedia just now).

I’m afraid I didn’t really engage in Mario, which automatically means I didn’t really engage in the novel as much as I would have liked. I didn’t really care, for example, how the love story would turn out. I didn’t really care whether he was going to become a writer, a lawyer, a radio news editor or a failure. I was much more interested in Pedro Camacho, at least as a phenomenon if not a person. Unfortunately that part of the story sort of petered out a bit and felt somewhat unfinished (though I am sure that is because I was interested in Pedro as an end in his own right, rather than as a means to educate Mario – which is how I feel Llosa meant him). On teh whole, therefore, though I liked the novel and feel like I should probably read more Llosa, I didn’t love it – not by a long stretch.

According to my father The Feast of the Goat is Llosa’s best novel (of the ones he’s read). I might try that next (especially because I can borrow it from him).

Jorden rundt

I fell off the journey spectacularly last year, partly due to accidentally packing the relevant books away in preparation of moving, but I think I might just jump on again now. Lyran’s challenge 2011 edition has reached South America and all of the chosen books look interesting. Just now, incidentally, Jack and Stephen are on their way to Sweden, but once they’ve been there and resolved a few things, they’re heading for South America. Which doesn’t count towards the challenge, but seems apt anyway. I have to finish with Jack and Stephen before tackling any of these three, but I should be able to make it in September.

I should in fact have a copy of Manguel somewhere, if I can’t find it I guess I might go for Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, as it seems to be the only one of the three available for the Kindle. Though come to think of it, my father has read some Llosa, I might be able to borrow it off him. We’ll see.

Huset ved moskeen – Kader Abdolah

abdolahDet passet i grunnen utmerket å lese Kader Abdolahs Huset ved moskeen i mars, selv om den ikke var på Lyrans liste foregår den tross alt i rett område for jorden rundt-utfordringen.

Huset ved moskeen er en slags familiesaga, og handlingen foregår i Sandjãn i Iran. I åtte hundre år har familien bodd i huset ved moskeen, og en mann fra familien har vært moskeens imam. Ãqa Djãn er familiens overhode, og styrer huset i tillegg til å drive en blomstrende teppehandlerbedrift og være en av de sentrale mennene i basaren og i byen forøvrig. Historien i romanen følger husets beboere, både de «gode» og de «onde» gjennom årene rundt kulturrevolusjonen i Iran og Shaens fall.

Jeg lot meg rive med av historien. Dette er dessuten en bok å lære av, både om Irans historie, noe som er nyttig nok, men også om mellommenneskelige forhold, av det mer universelle slaget.

Anbefales!

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

persepolisVi har kommet til Midtøsten i Lyrans jorden rundtutfordring og jeg valgte meg Persepolis, siden den tross alt har stått på «skal lese snart»-lista en stund.

Jeg tror jeg hadde litt for høye forventninger til denne, eller kanskje litt feil forventninger? Jeg er glad i grafiske romaner, så det burde ikke være formatet som hemmer meg, men jeg ble litt mindre engasjert i Satrapis historie enn jeg kunne ønsket. For all del, boka var opplysende, tegningene er til dels svært talende (om de sier mer enn tusen ord skal jeg ikke gi meg ut på en diskusjon om) og jeg fikk et nytt innblikk i det å vokse opp i Iran. Men… Nei, jeg vet ikke. Jeg ble liksom ikke helt fenget.

Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, what with reading Kadare before February, but as I know I have a tendency to fall behind on challenges like these, I figured being ahead of the game for once wouldn’t hurt.

Spring Flowers, Spring Frost is a very strange book. As the back has a quote comparing Kadare to both Kafka and Gogol, I don’t suppose there was any reason to be surprised by this.

I do like some of the narrative devices Kadare uses. The counter-chapters are quite effective, and I laughed out loud (yes, literally) when, after a few counter-chapters I got to the heading «By way of a counter-chapter». The story is certainly disjointed, but that works quite well. I found the ending to be rather abrupt, but I’m not sure why I expected any neat tying up of strings, that’s hardly how the world works and it’s not as if «and they lived happily ever after» would be a satisfying end to this story in any sort of way.

All in all Kadare was an interesting aquaintance, and I think I’ll be reading more of his books. The experience certainly makes me look forward to the rest of this challenge.