I always keep a look out for new books and Ponti by Sharlene Teo has just been added to my reading list. Why? I always try and read something different and preferably something I dont know so much about. In this case life in Singapore.
About the book:
Friendless and fatherless, Szu lives in the shadow of her mother Amisa, once a beautiful actress—who gained fame for her portrayal of a ghost—and now a hack medium performing séances with her sister in a rusty house. When Szu meets the privileged, acid-tongued Circe, an unlikely encounter develops into a fraught friendship that will haunt them both for decades to come.
If you like Elena Ferrante (that includes me!) you will probably like Sharlene Tzu as well. I will update this post when im done with the book to give you my verdict!
I always have a reading list ready of books I haven’t gotten around to listen to yet. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan is one of the audiobooks sitting top of my pile heading into September and maybe it should be on your reading list too!
Many books about about slavery in America has been put out lately and many of them have been amazing reads. It’s important to understand the history that has shaped American to what is today and we know Esi Edugyan has a strong pen from her best seller Half-Blood Blues. Already long-listed for the Man Booker price 2018. This year could be a big year for the writer.
Washington Black is about a boy who rises from the ashes of slavery to become a free man of the world. “Wash”, the 11-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master’s brother as his manservant. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. But of course it doesn’t end just there.
Narrated by Dion Graham (Known from his stellar performance in The Wire (HBO) and also in The Force by Don Winslow, Private Paris by James Patterson etc)
Now available on Audiobook here.
Every now and then I try to look beyond the bestseller lists and the pulitzer prices. It’s almost like a hobby for me to go research what I might have overlooked. This week I I stumbled upon Deep Shadow by Nick Sullivan who might be more known for his narrating than as an Author. Nick Sullivan comes from a background in acting in New York and has spent a decade narrating books until he decided to write his own. That obviously sparked my interest. It’s so often that one talent is put on hold while making a living performing another.
Nick Sullivan first effort as a writer became a success. “Zombie Bigfoot” hit 1# in Amazons Horror Comedy genre. Deep Shadow is also narrated by Nick Sullivan who as usual does a great job.
I tend to favour “big historical fiction” but you know I really do value all fiction genres (sorry I am fiction addict) and Deep Shadow is a great action packed thriller that would make all Clancy fans happy with their headphones on.
Deep Shadow takes us to the Caribbean where a diver instructor Boone Fischer see’s something during a dive he wasn’t supposed to see. His life as a easy going divers instructor comes to a halt and the action begins.
It’s a highly entertaining plot and the book is well researched Nick Sullivan being a diver himself. I recommend this audiobook for anyone looking for 8 hours of suspense and action. Of course, all scuba divers has to get this audiobook downloaded to their phone. I can’t imagine a better audiobook to listen to on the plane going on a scuba diving holiday.
Deep Shadow is available on Amazon now both on Kindle and audiobook!
This weeks audiobook recommendation is Barkskins by An Proulx. I was a bit blown away by this big epic book. An Proulx is probably most famous for being the writer behind Brokeback Mountain and as great as that was Barkskins is a bigger and more ambitious effort by An Proulx. Barkskins as a audiobook works brilliantly and is very well narrated.
Barkskins spans over 300 years where we follow the deforestation of America all the way up to present day climate change. In Barkskins we follow two men who are contracted for work in the wilds of New France in 1693. The two men has a very different approach to life in the “New World” and their lives are constantly intertwined throughout the book as we follow their descendants into present day American life.
The best thing about Barkskins is the amazing historical accuracy which makes this book great for readers who like historical fiction. Who knew that so much drama could unfold around the lumber industry! We also learn a great deal about the role of the Native American in the lumber industry and experience America turn into what it is today loosing it’s vast forests as it transforms.
An Proulx is a remarkable writer and I can recommend all her audiobooks. It’s amazing to think that she didn’t start writing until she was 58! She won the pulitzer price in 1993. Became world famous for Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and I think Barkskins is my favourite book of hers.
Here’s Annie Proulx speech at the 2017 National Book Awards Ceremony.
Short facts about Barkskins
Listening time: 26 hours
For Fans of: American history, history of climate change, historical fiction. Epic novels.
Available on: www.audiobooks.com
Get Barkskins audiobook for free by signing up for a free trial with audiobook.com here.
This weeks audiobook recommendation is “Ham on Rye” by Charles Bukowski. If you are wondering what to listen to next, this book is an excellent choice. It’s my favourite Bukowski book of all time.
While Charles Bukowski might be most famous for his breakthrough novel “Post Office” I think Ham on Rye is just a better book. It’s a “coming of an age” novel where we follow Bukowski’s alter-ego Henry Chinaski as he grows up in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. It’s full of odd-ball romance, drunks, skipping school, abusive fathers more drinking and it’s all delivered with a great portion of humour. As we follow Henry Chinaski in Ham on Rye many questions about how Bukowski became the legend he was when he passed gets answered.
Maybe Bukowski isn’t for everyone but if you like things like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Beat Poets, Robert Crumb and stuff like that, entering the world of Bukowski seems like a great move. Bukowski’s novels are funny and easy reads.
So Bukowski was a drunk, so what. The man could write like no one else.
Short facts about Ham on Rye
Listening time: 8 hours
For Fans of: Beat Poets, On the Road, Slacker culture, books about The Great Depression and Coming of Age novels like “Catcher in the Rye”
Available on: www.audiobooks.com
Some free Bukowski audiobooks are also on Spotify. There are also some free audiobooks on Youtube.
Get “Ham on Rye audiobook” for free by signing up for a free trial with audiobook.com here.
A great book by a great writer! The Underground Railroad audiobook is a great historical insight into American history. Its well written and well narrated as well. Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Price for fiction in 2017. Well deserved I say.
The Underground Railroad audiobook is free on www.audiobooks.com when you sign up for a free trial here.
This weeks audiobook recommendation is Purity by Jonathan Franzen. This book is probably one of my favourite Jonathan Franzen books. It’s not a short book and its packed with Franzen’s signature emotional conflicts and criticism of modern society.
In “Purity” we follow graduate student “Pip” who’s full name is actually Purity. She has a college debt totalling 130.000$ and is having problems figuring out the basics of life like finding a house and a satisfactory career. As we follow Pip we start to understand the stems of her many issues. Her mother, a reclusive Santa Cruz Mountains resident who works as a checkout in a market. Pip’s mother has kept her dad’s indentity secret for her since her childhood. Pip Basically doesn’t know where she comes from.
As in many of Jonathan Franzens books he lets his main character drift in and out of the story line only to bring them together later on. “Pip” gets involved with a wikileaks organization, an eastern german “whistleblower” type a la Julian Assange.
“Purity” is a complicated book about growing up in a world dominated by the Internet and all it’s flaws in terms of privacy and distractions. It’s also a book about loneliness, love and desperate measures to maintain a status quo in relationships. It’s also Jonathan Franzen’s most ambitious book in my opinion and at times it might not be an easy read. For me, this book is perfect for listeners wondering how the internet is affecting our human relationships and the times we live in.
Here Jonathan Franzen speaks to BBC about his novel.
Short facts about Purity
Listening time: 25 hours
For Fans of: American history, family life dramas, the internet and social realism.
Available on: www.audiobooks.com
Get the Purity audiobook for free by signing up for a free trial with audiobook.com here.
This weeks audiobook recommendation is American Pastoral by Philip Roth who sadly passed away in May this year. For me he has always been a top-writer and interesting persona full of humour. The Newark born author left his hometown but Newark never left his work. The city is subject of many of his books and also American Pastoral.
Philip Roth has cut a controversial figure throughout his life. Born to jewish parents the writer distanced himself from anything religious throughout his life and the Jewish community has looked upon Roth as a man who turned his back to his people. In 2006 Roth remarked that he had “no taste for delusion” when asked about his religious convictions.
American Pastoral won the Pulitzer price for fiction in 1998, exactly 20 years ago. The book however is still as relevant, vibrant and weird as it was back then.
In American Pastoral we follow Seymour Irving Levov, born and raised in Newark, New Jersey in 1927. His dad Lou Levov is a very succesful Jewish American glove manufacturer. In high-school Seymour Irving Levov gets the nick name “the swede” because of his blonde hair, physical strength, blue eyes and nordic good looks. “The Swede” is the star of the basketball team, the star of the baseball, well the star of the city.
American Pastoral is told through Philip Roth’s alter ego Nathan Zuckerman who idolizes Seymour “The Swede” Levov. The book kicks off when Nathan Zuckerman meets his old pal Jerry, “The Swedes” nerdy little brother, at high school reunion some 50 years later and learns what has happened to “The Swede”.
And a lot has happened to “The Swede”. The story around “the swede” refers to the 1967 Newark riots, the watergate scandal, the porn revolution and most importantly the protest movement of americans against the Vietnam war. Revolutionary violence of the new left is catalyst of the book. And of course, family life as it’s worse.
Here is Philip Roth interview by The New Yorker editor David Remnick
Short Facts about American Pastoral:
Listening time: 15 hours
For Fans of: American history, family life dramas, good writing and the tragicomic.
Availble on: www.audiobooks.com
A good Philip Roth Orbituary: Here.
Awards: Pulitzer Price for Fiction 1998 and Audie Award Winner, Best Solo Narration by a Male (Ron Silver), 1998
Get American Pastoral audiobook for free by signing up for free trial with Audiobooks.com here.
Nathan Hill’s “The Nix” has already become an international bestseller. A 2017 smash-hit that has seen the author do the mandatory book-tour around the globe. And the audiobook version, narrated by the always vivid Ari Fliakos, is a great listen.
In “The Nix” we follow Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a failed writer with a somewhat troubled existense. Samuel Andreses-Anderson hasn’t seen his mother for nearly a decade since she left him as a child. Until one day she reappears having committed an unbelievable crime. The shock doesn’t get smaller since the crime committed becomes a national news obsession that gives Samuel information about his mom he finds hard to believe. At the same time Samuel’s mother needs his help facing serious criminal charges.
The Nix is full of humour. You do get to laugh but it’s by far not all comedy. Nathan Hill gets around millennial entitlement, computer game addiction (read “talented people wasting time on World of Warcraft), meaningless academia, cellphone distraction and first and foremost love. We follow Samuel’s childhood friendships, first loves and life in 80’s surburbia up to life post 9/11 in New York.
Not surprisingly the author does a great 1 minute sum-up of his book in this video:
Short Facts about The Nix:
Listening time: 22 hours
Published: May 2017
For Fans of: Jonathan Franzen, Don Delillo and Donna Tart.
Availble on: www.audiobooks.com
Authors website: nathanhill.net/
Get The Nix audiobook for free by signing up for free trial with Audiobooks.com here.