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A Student of Weather – Elizabeth Hay

It's an interesting experience to encounter a book in which none of the major figures is likeable. Yet, that very circumstance is a tribute to Elizabeth Hay's eloquent portrayal of two sisters in drought-ridden central Canada. ...

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

What I got out of "The Curious Incident ..." was less about insights into Christopher than insights into the rest of us "normal" people. One of the things that Haddon's remarkable depiction of Christopher's worldview makes stri...


Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

The real hope is for Jimmy to not slay his fellows, but it's a slim hope. Only by repudiating Crake's plan will Jimmy become a whole, independent human being, the very thing that his society tried so hard to squelch (both in hi...

Seize the Day – Saul Bellow

One thing should be clear to you now. Money-making is aggression. That's the whole thing. The functionalistic explanation is the only one. People come to the market to kill. They say, 'I'm going to make a killing.' It's not acc...


Middlemarch – George Eliot

A mangificent novel, a grandiose fresco of provincial society in an age of change (the Industrial Revolution, the Reform Bill of 1832 which expanded the electoral franchise and redesigned electoral districts). The characters ar...

Life: A User’s Manual – Georges Perec

The stories are unforgettable, the humanity that shines through is totally believable. Perec's main message seems to be: life has infinite possibilities, we can never know how things will turn out, life is a box of wonders.


Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

Achebe never depicts tribal, pre-European African life as bucolic or peaceful. I think it is a brutally honest portrait of Igbo machismo, violence, and cruelty. Which, of course, does not also forgive Europeans for their own br...

The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James

It seems that the "American vs. European character" was THE theme for James. It certainly is a very relevant subject, since it studies the cultural evolution of two branches of originally European culture.


The Maias – José Maria Eça de Queirós

Depicts the rise and fall of an upper-class Portuguese family, with all the pathos, humor and satire that characterize this brilliant author.