Friday, June 17, 2011

Literary License Fiction Round-Up

A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahimi (translated by Sarah Maguire and Yama Yari): In Kabul in 1979 Farhad, a 21-year-old university student, is out after curfew to celebrate a friend’s imminent escape to Pakistan. After suffering a vicious beating by soldiers on patrol, a mysterious and brave woman rescues the unconscious Farhad from the sewer. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear consists of Farhad’s splintered memories and dreams mixed with his brief moments of lucidity as Fahad slowly returns to awareness. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear is a disturbing and masterful depiction of the harrowing circumstances suffered by both men and women in war-torn Afghanistan.

A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei: Spurred on by the unexpected death of her husband, Irene Shen organizes a trip back to her family’s Chinese homeland for herself, her three daughters, her sister, and her mother. Told from alternating perspectives, this novel of family (dys)functioning touches on just about every drama-filled issue imaginable. Although never boring, A Thread of Sky takes on too many topics to address them all with satisfying depth. Nevertheless, the novel is a thought-provoking look at family dynamics on the road.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: This debut novel is a Wharton-esque tale of post-Depression New York City during the year 1938. The action follows the ever-morphing relationships of several young men and women as their fortunes rise and fall, seemingly overnight. The self-assured voice of 25-year-old Katey Kontent leads the reader through it all with confidence and verve. Rules of Civility is an entertaining exploration of the whims of Fortune.

Seven Years by Peter Stamm (translated by Michael Hoffman): In this novel of obsessive love, Alex, an architectural student in Munich, vacillates between his admiration for a fellow-student (Sonya) and his irrational attraction to a dumpy, taciturn Polish woman (Ivona). Although Alex eventually marries Sonya and starts an architectural firm with her, he remains strangely drawn to Ivona. What at first seems to be Alex’s inexplicable obsession with an unworthy woman is slowly revealed to be Alex’s desire for unconditional love and the freedom such a love provides. Seven Years is a masterful exploration of forbidden love and its consequences.

1 comment:

Zibilee said...

Though all of these sound good, I am particularly interested in A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear and Seven Years. These both seem like the kinds of books that would be engrossing reads for me. I also liked your format of mini-reviews today. It's nice to see a whole little smattering of different things and get brief opinions on them all. Glad to see you here, and loved your reviews today, Gwen!