Friday 12 August 2011

Take Five Books - August 2011

Back to this five book challenge, originally devised by Simon at Stuck in a Book.  Once again I have included an audiobook.  So here is my current crop of books.
1. The book I’m currently reading - And the Land Lay Still by James Roberston.  This is an enthralling novel by the author of The Testament of Gideon Mack.  It is a very ambitious book which tries to describe and make sense of the history of Scotland since the 2nd World War.  He does this by focussing on a disparate group of characters whose lives at times meet and overlap.  At 670 largish pages it is an ambitious read in more ways than one.  Just started the fifth and final part, so await with fascination how he draws everything together - assuming he does.

2. The last book I finished - The Death of the Little Match Girl by Zoran Ferić.  This is a fairly short book, though pretty complicated for all that.  Set in an island off the coast of Croatia in 1992, during the violent and messy break-up of Yugoslavia, which serves as a background to the events.   A young girl dies of illness and a Romanian transvestite prostitute is murdered.  Is there any connection between the two deaths?  The novel can loosely be called a crime novel though it is much more as it brings out some of the nasty undercurrents of life in the latter years of Yugoslavia.

3. The next book I want to read -  Un Dulce Olor a Muerte by Guillermo Arriaga.  Mexican author Arriaga is most famous as a script writer for films, some of which, such as Amores Perros and Babel, have become internationally successful.  This book looks like a kind of revenge mystery.  It is also available in an English translation as A sweet scent of Death.

4. The last audiobook I listened to - The Dead of Summer by Mari Jugstedt.  This was my first encounter with Mari Jungstedt, another Scandinavian crime writer.  Is there no end to this phenomenon?   Anyway Jungstedt is Swedish and this is her fifth book to be set in the island of Gotland and to feature Inspector Knutas.  Similar in some ways to the writing of Camilla Läckberg, this murder mystery focuses as much on the characters, the police and the various suspects as on the crime itself.

5. The last book I was given -  In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz  by Michela Wrong.  This is an account of the rise and fall of Mobutu Sese Seko, the former dictator of the Congo.  Last year I read another book about the Congo - Blood River by Tim Butcher.  This was an attempt to retrace the journey of H M Stanley as he sought to travel down the great Congo river.  The book was more about the country itself and I found it fascinating.  So I am greatly looking forward to finding out more about this troubled country.

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