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