Today we’re offering the first Franny vs Perks review post. Although we’ve read many of the same books, The Lowland is the first to be subjected to our critical eyes. We hope that our double whammy of a post will encourage you to read a book that, although has not broken free of the numerous shortlists its been on, is undoubtedly a fantastic read.
The associations we hold with the continent of Africa are impressions that are vastly different from the reality of actually living there. The world speaks of pity and sadness in the context of those countries, while forgetting that it remains the home of millions of people, who may exist in a world fiscally poorer than ours, but by no means devoid of happiness. We Need New Names is a novel that manages to inject some of the true joy and energy of this location into its lines of prose. It opens in Zimbabwe as Mugabe tightens his stranglehold on the country, told through the eyes of Darling, a ragamuffin girl growing up in a slum called Paradise. During the course of the novel, Darling is taken by her aunt to live in America at the age of 10 to grow up in a safer world. It manages to show us a slice of the real Africa – a place where children are hungry, but play and laugh, stealing guavas from the trees of their wealthy neighbours to get by. It also shows us the reality of growing up in America as an immigrant –always grateful but never quite belonging.
This has been my favourite book of 2014, so if you haven’t read it, do. You can thank me later.
There has been a boom in debut talent this year, and in my opinion, Hannah Kent is the pick of the bunch. Her novel, Burial Rites, is an outstanding piece of historical literary fiction, which traces the life of Agnes Magnusdottir, an Icelandic woman condemned to death for murdering her lover, Natan Ketilsson.
When I finally purchased this book, I felt like the person arriving late to the party, or rather, missing the party completely. But then again, so had this book. Published in 1965, Stoner, much like its eponymous protagonist, seemed to go unnoticed until last year, when it suddenly took the world by storm.It was difficult not to read Stoner with high expectations considering the wealth of glorious reviews. Nevertheless, John Williams managed to write a story where the ordinary somehow became captivating, and I devoured it in one 3hr train journey.