Another book from the CBC list; also Whittall was at a Walrus Talks panel discussion at Blue Metropolis. This is a relationship book about 20-somethings that is not preoccupied by drugs. Notably, there is a central trans-gender character, and this characteristic is treated without emphasis, just as it should be.
This is a great book, really two love stories spanning two generations set in North Borneo (WWII, now Malaysia), Vancouver and The Netherlands. It is a compelling story of secrets and sorrows of the past, and grief and loss (a phrase: “ routine .. to keep their thoughts contained”). This may be the only time I have recommended two books by the same author in a single month.
A fierce story of Mala, a multi-layered individual: fiercely protective of her sister after her mother leaves; driven to murder by sexual abuse by her father; an interesting issue of her sanity when she is institutionalized. A book filled with vivid characters. (This is also on the CBC list; last month I recommended Valmiki’s Daughter)
This is a heartbreaking story of Cambodia in the 1970s, horrors that persist two decades later in Canada. A haunting phrase: “Hunger was erasing my being”; reality becomes blurred in such horrible circumstances. Thien was at Blue Metropolis last May in Montreal.
A very good mystery by a Canadian author (chosen from the CBC List of 100 Authors who make us proud to be a Canadian). This is a plot-driven mystery, so not much description of place. An intrepid private eye solves several murders, with the usual corrupt police force. There is a good surprise at the ending!
Hugo is obnoxious, cynical and bitter with self-loathing, so a thoroughly unpleasant person who has chosen to be a hermit. His choice of suicide to end his life (spoiler alert) is thwarted leading to a not entirely satisfactory ending but the writing is excellent throughout. (You may remember that I recommended another Christensen book last month, The Great Man)
A beautiful story about books, a grumpy bookstore owner, and a publisher’s rep – what’s not too love! And there is an adoptive child as well. The story is unabashedly sentimental and both funny and sad – a real pleasure to read.