Waiting is a 1999 novel by Chinese-American author Ha Jin which won the National Book Award that year. It is based on a true story that Jin heard from his wife when they were visiting her family at an army hospital in China. At the hospital was an army doctor who had waited eighteen years to get a divorce so he could marry his longtime friend, a nurse.
The plot revolves around the fortunes of three people: Lin Kong, the army doctor; his wife Shuyu, whom he has never loved; and the nurse Manna Wu, his girlfriend at the hospital where he works. Beginning in 1963 and stretching over a twenty-year period, Waiting is set against the background of a changing Chinese society. It contrasts city and country life and shows the restrictions on individual freedoms that are a routine part of life under communism. But Waiting is primarily a novel of character. It presents a portrait of a decent but deeply flawed man, Lin Kong, whose life is spoiled by his inability to experience strong emotions and to love wholeheartedly.
Continue reading “WAITING”
Tree of Smoke is a 2007 novel by American author Denis Johnson which won the National Book Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It is about a man named Skip Sands who joins the CIA in 1965, and begins working in Vietnam during the American involvement there. The time frame of the novel is from 1963 to 1970, with a coda set in 1983. One of the protagonists of Tree of Smoke is Bill Houston, who was the main character in Johnson’s 1983 debut novel Angels.
Continue reading “TREE OF SMOKE”
The Thirteenth Tale (2006) by Diane Setterfield is a gothic suspense novel, the author’s first published book. The title of the book is derived from a collection of short stories penned by Vida Winter entitled Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation; the collection was supposed to contain a total of thirteen stories but was shortened to twelve at publication.
The chapters of the book switch between the past and present day life of the two main characters (Margaret Lea, Vida Winter). At the novel’s inception, Lea divulges her work in her father’s antique book store, her one-time jaunt as an amateur biographer, and her chance discovery at age 12 that she was born a conjoined twin, her sister dying shortly after their separation. This discovery has caused her pain and provided a reason for longing she felt before that, as does her strained relationship with her mother, who became depressed and withdrawn after the twin’s death. After the character of Vida Winter is introduced, she narrates sections of the book, in sessions with Lea in her library. Given Winter’s detailed and vivid account of her past, Lea later finds it easy to write a narrative from her notes. This becomes the biography that Winter commissioned Lea to do.
Continue reading “THIRTEENTH TALE”
The Falls is a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, originally published in 2004 by the Ecco Press, and winner of the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger.
It is 1950 and, after a disastrous honeymoon night, Ariah Erskine’s young husband throws himself into the roaring waters of Niagara Falls. Ariah, “the Widow Bride of the Falls,” begins a relentless seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side is confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby, who is unexpectedly drawn to her. What follows is a passionate love affair, marriage, and family — a seemingly perfect existence. But tragedy soon takes over their lives, poisoning their halcyon years with distrust, greed, and murder.
Continue reading “THE FALLS”
The Long Surrender is a book by Charlotte Lamb, published in 1978. The book is about two central characters:
A deranged stalker/rich businessman who finds no compunction with the physical and mental abuse, rape and objectification of his ‘love’. He is also chronically unfaithful and has a room wallpapered with photos he got someone to take of her for three years without her knowledge.Its central themes are abuse, rape, violence and love.
Continue reading “THE LONG SURRENDER”
American Gods (2001) is a novel by English author Neil Gaiman. The novel is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on the mysterious and taciturn Shadow. Several of the themes were previously alluded to in his The Sandman comic book series.
Continue reading “AMERICAN GODS”
The Known World is a 2003 historical novel by Edward P. Jones. Set in Virginia during the antebellum era, it examines the issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by both white and black Americans.
The book was published to widespread acclaim from literary critics, with much praise directed at its story and Jones’ prose. In particular, his ability to intertwine stories within stories received great praise from The New York Times.
The narration of The Known World is from the perspective of an omniscient figure who doesn’t voice judgment. This allows the reader to experience the story without bias.
Continue reading “THE KNOWN WORLD”