Monday, July 20, 2015

Mãn: A Novel by Kim Thuy

A Novel
by Kim Thuy
Trade Paperback, 160 pages
Publisher: Vintage Canada

Looks can be deceiving.

From such a slim book, so much. I was about to say what the so much is - but I cannot narrow it down to words. Magic. Simplicity. History. Honour. Tradition. Strength. Perseverance. Trust. And love.

And food! Let's not forget the food. For a while, one of the safest ways Mãn could feel and express emotion.

A tapestry of life. An opening to love.

A delicious book.

It changed me. In the short time it took to read it.

My texts became more poetic. I became more patient.

I loved this book.

From the Back Flap:

A triumph of poetic beauty and a moving meditation on how love and food are inextricably entwined, Mãn is a seductive and luminous work of literature from Kim Thúy, whose first book, Ru, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, received a Governor General's Literary Award and won the nationwide book competition Canada Reads.

     Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband--a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal. Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef. Gracefully she practices her art, with food as her medium. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body: they evoke memory and emotion, time and place, and even bring her customers to tears. Mãn is a mystery--her name means "perfect fulfillment," yet she and her husband seem to drift along, respectfully and dutifully. But when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair. Full of indelible images of beauty, delicacy and quiet power, Mãn is a novel that begs to be savoured for its language, its sensuousness and its love of life.

KIM THÚY has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner. She currently lives in Montreal where she devotes herself to writing.

SHEILA FISCHMAN is the award-winning translator of some 150 contemporary novels from Quebec. In 2008 she was awarded the Molson Prize in the Arts. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and a chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec. She lives in Montreal.


Excerpt from the Hardcover Edition:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Name of The Devil: A Jessica Blackwood Novel by Andrew Mayne

Name of the Devil (430x648)
The Name of The Devil
A Jessica Blackwood Novel
by Andrew Mayne
• Paperback: 432 pages 
• Publisher: Bourbon Street Books

Absolutely incredible! Even better than his first novel, Angel Killer - which I loved.

You know how procedural crime novels can sometimes take too much of the magic out of the story by the end? Magic is part and parcel of his novels, as well as complex mystery and crime. And elements of magic remain throughout.

One of those books where you ask yourself how they kept all those elements going.

Andrew Mayne is rocketing to the top of my favourite authors to read.

Do yourself a favour - read The Name of The Devil.

From the Back Flap: 

In this electrifying sequel to Angel Killer, magician-turned-FBI-agent Jessica Blackwood must channel her past to catch a killer consumed by a desire for revenge.

When a church combusts in rural Appalachia, the bizarre trail of carnage suggests diabolical forces are at work. Charged with explaining the inexplicable, the FBI's Dr. Ailes and Agent Knoll once again turn to the ace up their sleeve: Agent Jessica Blackwood, a former prodigy from a family dynasty of illusionists. After playing a pivotal role in the capture of the Warlock, a seemingly supernatural serial killer, Jessica can no longer ignore the world, and the skills, she left behind. Her talent and experience endow her with a knack for knowing when things are not always as they appear to be, and she soon realizes this explosion is just the first of many crimes.

As the death toll mounts, Jessica discovers the victims share a troubling secret with far-reaching implications that stretch from the hills of West Virginia to cartel-corrupted Mexico to the hallowed halls of the Vatican. Everyone involved in what happened on that horrible night so long ago has tried to bury it—except for one person, who believes that the past can be hidden, but never forgiven. Can Jessica draw on her unique understanding of the power and potential of deception to thwart a murderer determined to avenge the past?

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42108About Andrew Mayne

Andrew Mayne is the star of A&E's magic reality show Don't Trust Andrew Mayne, and has worked with David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, and David Blaine. He lives in Los Angeles. Connect with him through his websiteFacebook, or follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The New World: A Novel by Andrew Motion

The New World
by Andrew Motion

Hardcover, 368 pages
Doubleday Canada

A leap from my usual fare - that seems to be my theme this summer, expanding my horizons. And how better to expand my horizons than with an adventure book?

The New World is the second in a series of post-Treasure Island books by the renowned writer, Andrew Motion. 

It's been a while since I read Treasure Island, if I ever did. And I didn't read the first of this series, Silver. I was afraid I might not be able to follow as easily but that was not an issue at all.

Adventures are meant to be taken for what they are. An adventure! When Jim and Natty found themselves shipwrecked in the New World, a new adventure began. We see the cultures through their eyes. The differences between tribes and cultures. The effects of colonization. The wild-west feeling of building new nations, the hardship of foraging anew.

They come across a variety of outlandish characters in the book and we are around for the ride.

I can definitely see these books becoming a movie or two. 

Let the adventure begin!

From the Back Flap:

The breathtaking new novel about unexpected adventure from Andrew Motion, internationally acclaimed author of Silver.
     Washed ashore after a harrowing shipwreck, English seafarers Jim and Natty find themselves stranded on the Gulf Coast in Texas. Their ship, the Nightingale, has been destroyed, and to Jim and Natty's horror, only one other survivor remains. But the shocked and grief-stricken duo soon realizes they're not all alone on the beach. When a band of Native Americans approaches the shore in a threatening fury, they brutally kill Jim and Natty's last shipmate, rob their dead crew and take the two desperate survivors hostage.

     Suddenly, Jim and Natty are thrust into an Old West adventure unlike anything they've ever experienced. Starting with a desperate escape from a violent Chief, who obsessively keeps close on their trail, they join up with a troupe of entertainers who take them to a thriving and dangerous New Orleans, and finally, head back to the high seas where Jim and Natty hope to seek passage home.

     In magnificent, free-wheeling prose and in a high-flying style, Andrew Motion has spun a fantastic yarn that will win the hearts of adventure lovers everywhere.

ANDREW MOTION is a poet, critic, novelist, biographer, and, for many years, a professor and poetry editor. He served as Poet Laureate of the UK for ten years and was knighted for his services to literature in 2009. He is now a professor of creative writing at the University of London and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in London.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera

The Festival of Insignificance (429x648)
The Festival of Insignificance
by Milan Kundera
• Hardcover: 128 pages 
• Publisher: Harper (June 23, 2015)

I don't even know where to start with this review. The book is short and quirky and not exactly linear. I
would say it is meant to be read slowly and just taken for what you take in. Don't expect a story, really. This is a somewhat dreamy, disconnected book of absurdity and philosophy. From navels to Stalin to angels. 

Abstract at times, sad, lonely, absurd. Truths, lies, life, mediocrity and banality with occasional narrator voice jumping in to the mix.

It explores our inability to live in the same world as others. To experience in the same way. To truly understand another. That recognizing the banality of life is important, even (or especially) during major events in our lives.

"No one is here by their own wish."
"Hold on to the illusion of your own individuality."

Read it and think. The book will take you a couple of hours. The thinking may take more. 

From the Back Flap:

Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism—that's The Festival of Insignificance. Readers who know Kundera's earlier books know that the wish to incorporate an element of the "unserious" in a novel is not at all unexpected of him. In Immortality, Goethe and Hemingway stroll through several chapters together, talking and laughing. And in Slowness, Vera, the author's wife, says to her husband, "You've often told me you meant to write a book one day that would have not a single serious word in it . . . I warn you: watch out. Your enemies are lying in wait."
Now, far from watching out, Kundera is finally and fully realizing his old aesthetic dream in this novel, which we may easily view as a summation of his whole work. A strange sort of summation. Strange sort of epilogue. Strange sort of laughter, inspired by our time, which is comical because it has lost all sense of humor. What more can we say? Nothing. Just read.

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Milan KunderaAbout the Author

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, since 1975. He is the author of the novels The Joke, Farewell Waltz, Life Is Elsewhere, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short-story collection Laughable Loves—all originally written in Czech. His most recent novels Slowness, Identity, and Ignorance, as well as his nonfiction works The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, The Curtain, and Encounter, were originally written in French.