The Art of Death

IMG_0936Edwidge Danticat


“How can we write plausibly from the point of view of the dying, when we have not died ourselves, and have no one around to ask what is it like to die? But we do ask. We ask writers.”

In The Art of Death – Writing the Final Story Edwidge Danticat writes elegantly and simply, as she reflects on death as written in works by Leo Tolstoy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Albert Camus, Toni Morrison, and others.

In an Antique Land & The Imam and the Indian

GhoshTwo early books by a most intriguing and lyrical author, Amitav Ghosh:

In an Antique Land (Penguin, 2009) is a spellbinding narrative that combines historical research with personal observations of skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. It transcends genres and eras. A fascinating re-read.

The Imam and the Indian (Penguin, 2010) is another compelling story by the same author, written in expressive, rhythmic prose. It narrates in part, his experience of living in rural, contemporary Egypt and its connection to western India via the lives of its people, past and present.

Night Train to Lisbon

Night Train to Lisbon


Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (Grove Press, 2004)

I first read this page-turning thriller several years ago. I was attracted to re-read it because of its fine plot, historical setting, and character development. It kept me up several nights and re-reading it was a joy.

The Stone Raft

SaramagoJosé Saramago is one of my favorite foreign writers. His vivid writing style, and long sentences which meander sometimes the full length of a paragraph, allow the reader to savor the words and the cadences of the language—poetic prose. In The Stone Raft (English translation 1995, Harcourt Inc., Harvest Books 1996) he transports the reader to the human plight of isolation when the Iberian Peninsula breaks off and floats into the Atlantic, cutting all geographic, historic, cultural, spiritual, and familial connections to Europe. An analogy would be a surgeon with his team, insulated in the operating room, cut off from the distractions of outside world.

The Male Line on Father’s Day

(LtR) My grandfather, Sheikh Amin, Principle; my father, Abdel Aziz (at 24 and 50), Professor; myself, Professor of Surgery; my son, Assistant Professor of Surgery; and my newborn grandson.

The Pleasure of Re-Reads




Madam Bovery: The classical translation by Francis Steegmuller and a current, livelier one by Lydia Davis. Both equally enjoyable.

Kahlil Gibran—Man and Poet, A New Biography

Kahlil Gibran


Kahlil Gibran—Man and Poet, A New Biography by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins (One World, 2005) Gibran, noted for his poetic masterpiece, The Prophet, wrote over twenty literary works in both English and Arabic. This new biography penetrates the heart of Gibran’s brilliance, charting his colorful life, his dramatic love affairs, and his artistic achievements, portraying a remarkable man. An inspiring read.


Judas, Amos Oz

Judas, by Amos Oz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), is an exquisite love story and one of his most powerful novels. (“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Thus, spoke the prophet Jeremiah. Thomas Mann writes somewhere that hatred is simply love with a minus sign placed before it. Jealousy is the proof that love is like hatred, because in jealousy, love and hatred are mixed together. In the Song of Songs, in the selfsame verse, we are told that love is strong as death, jealousy cruel as the grave.”)