All posts filed under: atwbooks

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Around the World in Books

BOOK: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie IN SHORT: This is the story of Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who immigrates to the U.S. and becomes a keen critic of our society; in parallel, we follow her true love, Obinze, as he tries to make his own way West. THE FAVORITE BIT: My favorite bit of this book comes exceptionally early: with Ifemelu’s email to Obinze. It actually involves two emails that Ifemelu sends her now-married ex-boyfriend from America, following her long absence from both their shared native country (Nigeria) and their shared life together. The earlier one is referenced: “A gracious email. He hated it. He hated it so much that he Googled the black American (Ifemelu’s boyfriend)—and why should she give him the man’s full name if not because she wanted him Googled?” The second email is the more promising one (even from the married Obinze’s perspective). “Ceiling, kedu?” “Ceiling” is her nickname for him, “kedu” means “hello” or “how are you.” It continues: “Hope all is well with work and family. Ranyinudo said she ran into you some time ago …

Around the World in Books

A photo posted by Faraway Places in Books (@farawayplacesbooks) on Sep 11, 2016 at 8:18pm PDT Hi. I’m reading a book from every country in the world. I began with Germany. The most recent review: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan).  Below, a list of all the countries. Want an update every time I finish one? I swear, it’s worth it. This is the Instagram account I use to record the experience. NORTH AMERICA Canada Mexico USA Bermuda St. Pierre et Miquelon CENTRAL AMERICA Belize Costa Rica El Salvador Guatemala Honduras Mexico Nicaragua Panama SOUTH AMERICA Argentina Bolivia, Plurinational State of Brazil Chile [includes Easter Island] Colombia Ecuador [includes the Galápagos islands] Falkland Islands (Malvinas) French Guiana Guyana Paraguay Peru Suriname Uruguay Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of CARIBBEAN Anguilla Antigua and Barbuda Aruba Bahamas Barbados Bermuda Cayman Islands Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Cuba Dominica Curaçao Dominican Republic Grenada Guadeloupe Haiti Jamaica Martinique Montserrat Puerto Rico Saint Bathélemy Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French Part) Saint Vincent and the …

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: Around the World in Books

I didn’t realize it until I was halfway through that “Between Shades of Gray” is officially a YA novel—and even then, the only thing that gave it away was its length (though now that I’m thinking about it, there are plenty of long YA novels, so please excuse my stereotyping). This is the story of 16-year-old Lina and her family, as they are deported from Lithuania with the arrival of Russian forces during World War II and subjected to a long list of miseries and deprivations. This is a very hard-nosed little book, and it is, in fact, remarkably well suited to being a tale told for (indeed) young adults: It is clear-eyed about the cruelties of the world in a way its intended readers will certainly understand. It was a relief, actually, that this book was not written (specifically) for adults, as that permits a simpler story, without the adult’s need to reconcile her experiences with her now-upended worldview. I do think that the average 16-year-old has an easier time adapting to a new, …

Baltic Countdown by Peggie Benton: Around the World in Books

My entire “Around the World in Books” adventure (and it really is that!) begin, quite accidentally with A Woman in Berlin, a German journalist’s memoir of the days that followed the Russian occupation of Berlin at the end of World War II. I’d just read “City of Women,” a full-on cinematic treatment of Berlin during the war from the perspective of an especially plucky hausfrau, and I’d wanted to find a real-life version. “A Woman in Berlin” was all that and more—I really don’t use a modifier more reverentially than “clear-eyed,” and “A Woman in Berlin” was one of the most clear-eyed books I’ve ever read. “Baltic Countdown” in some ways connects to “A Woman in Berlin,” even though author Peggie Benton’s travails are significantly less devastating than rapes and degradations suffered by AWIB’s still-anonymous narrator. Benton was a passport officer for the British government in Riga, Latvia’s capital city, during World War II, and it’s through her eyes that we see the catastrophic arrival of the Russians. Her diplomatic status of course shelters Benton …

purge

Purge by Sofi Oksanen: Around the World in Books

This was actually my first “around the world” book, and it did exactly what it was supposed to: tell me about a place I’ve never been and help me experience, in a small way, things I’ve never heard about. I’ve been dying to go to the Baltics for ages, but mostly because it seemed like they would have less expensive saunas than Finland. (No small thing, but still.) I didn’t know, until reading this book, about their long and awful occupation by the Soviets, and I didn’t know about the lingering resentments about the native collaborators—in this case, the book’s main character, Aliide. I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such a morally challenged main character, and Aliide, whom we meet as an elderly widows, does it all — worst among her many sins (and there’s plenty to choose from) is scheme to have her sister and niece deported to Russia so she would be able to pursue her sister’s husband. One of the challenges of reading this without a deep …