Stag’s Leap – Sharon Olds

Stag_s Leap - Sharon OldsI read novels almost exclusively because generally short stories are too short for plot development and context (Alice Munro’s writing is an obvious exception). And because I read quickly, I typically do not read poetry where so much meaning is often attached to a single word. However, a fellow reader (Renee) who I respect greatly told me about Stag’s Leap, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and it is fantastic. The poems tell the story of the ending of the author’s 30-year marriage. The poem “Last Look” will take your breath away and probably make you cry. The poems are an insightful look at loss and resulting invisibility – remarkable emotional poetry.

The Sympathizer – Viet Trans Nguyen

the-sympathizer-viet-trans-nguyenThis is a brilliant book, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, about the aftermath of the Viet Nam war from the point-of-view of Vietnamese people. The narrator is a Communist double agent who flees to America after the fall of Saigon, and then returns to Viet Nam to be subjugated to the extreme brutality of a Re-Education Camp. This book has a brilliant presentation of politics and ideology, moral ambiguity, and the existential crisis of leading a double life that is complex, compelling and frustrating. The legacy of war is presented in graphic detail.