Phil, Queen's Sqaure | January 2, 2020
Each month I’ve read some of the latest releases and hoped to share some of that passion for fiction. With these recommendations, I conclude this monthly feature.
Johanna Skibsrud’s novel Island is many things. It’s part fantasy, part parable, but mostly it’s a riff on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Set on an island (surprise!), Skibsrud’s novel deals with issues like identity, insurrection, history and personal responsibility. Maya Jasanoff’s recent and excellent biography and re-evaluation of Conrad’s work: The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World would make an excellent pairing with Island.
Women Who Blow on Knots, an Edinburgh International Book Festival winner, also riffs on an idea: the road trip novel. A pull quote calls it the Arab Thelma and Louise, which I find almost dismissive in its praise. From Tunisia to Lebanon, Ece Temelkuran tells the story of four women, brought together and travelling during the Arab Spring. A best seller in Turkey, this book is worth your time no matter how they attempt to market the book.
New Me by Halle Butler is the latest and possibly the bleakest book in the office novel genre. Pick this up if you like the work of like Sally Rooney’s Normal People or Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation. If these books portend the future, I hope we all get better at dealing with paralyzing existential depression.
Maybe not the best way to end the year, but no one ever said reading should be easy.
Go get your bookmarks.