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The Remains of the Day (Vintage International, 1993) is by Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of eight novels who won the 2017 Nobel in Literature. I first read this book twenty plus years ago. Re-reading it, I was struck by the original story line and by the choice of words. It is a deeply moving portrait of an English butler, and his fading, insular world, following WWII. Prior to the war, he was the butler to a “great gentleman” at Darlington Hall. After its acquisition by a young American Congressman, he embarks on a search to find a former housekeeper, whose help he needs for the service of his new master. During the drive, he reflects over his career, reassuring himself of the benefit to his former master, and of his lingering faith in the man he once served.
The Marco Island Writers annual anthologies contain works written by its dynamic members, all established authors. The stories reflect the rich fabric of life in Florida. These books, and the 2017 Volume IV are available at the Farmer’s Market on Marco Island from November 15, 2017 to April 18, 2018.
An unconventional dictionary, which nevertheless is tremendous help to writers. Highly recommended. Get yours HERE on Amazon.
Do No Harm (Henry Marsh, Picador 2014)
Fragile Lives (Professor Stephen Westaby, HarperCollins 2017)
Morenga (Uwe Timm, New Direction Books, 1978) is set in German West South Africa in the first decade of the twentieth century. This historical novel recounts the conflict between the colonial German Empire, and the rebellious Hottentot and Herero tribes, led by the legendary Morenga—the daring and brilliant military tactician, and freedom fighter. It’s an ingenious mix of fact and fiction. Morenga is an intriguing novel I enjoyed re-reading.
“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.
Two 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 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.
José 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.