Wednesday, November 24, 2010

47-49. Non-African Books I have Read this Year II

Once a while I bring to my readers non-African books I have read. Since these are non-African books, this post is not a review. However, it helps me judge my progress with the 100 books to be read and share thoughts on this book where possible. The first was posted exactly two months ago

96. The Castle by Franz Kafka
So finally I read this dystopian novel. Kafka takes us on a journey that bothers the mind. I was so tired after I read this book that I didn't think I would read Kafka again this year. I read this because almost every literary/book person has read it and besides I have read The Trial, which is on my TBR 100. There is a surveyor who wants to get into the Castle and the book tells of all the impediments and troubles he went through and still couldn't get there. The book as I see it as about the present life. How many of us are able to achieve our dreams. They mostly remain as dreams. And even those that realise theirs soon dreams another. Do we sometimes bring our troubles on us? Are we the cause of some of our problems? Is everything determined? I think in Kafka's notes, determinism is the key to every action and not randomness. For though events in the book seemed to happen randomly, they are determined. For instance, the 'Mayor' of the village knew K. would come and visit him. When K. first called the Castle the person who received it knew that he would call and knew he was coming into the village. I enjoyed reading this, that is if you took out the mental torture the book took me through.

97. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Oh! what a book. Anyone who hasn't read it should. This book traces the Dead family from the days of slavery to the period of emancipation. Macon Dead, so called because of an error during the registration of freed slaves, has a farm which his white neighbours were jealous of. They killed him. His wife gave birth to a daughter when she died. This daughter has certain idiosyncrasies that makes her unique. Lovely book. In this book realism and surrealism is difficult to extricate from each other. Morrison was able to make the search and quest for freedom so real yet achieved through such surrealistic means that the reader begins to wonder which is which. The story was set within the period when slavery has just been abolished and blacks were exercising their freedom in a strangulated way. I read this book because I have Toni's Beloved on the TBR 100; and she is also a Nobelist, winning the award in 1993. Song of Solomon is her third novel published in 1977.

98. Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
This book is on my TBR 100. The only book amongst the three that is actually on the list. The copy I read is a poorly printed one. I loved this story. I see it as a continuation of Atwood's Oryx and Crake with Ralph, Jack, Maurice and co being children of Crake. In this classic novel, we learn of the nature of man, the savagery that we are capable of inflicting on another and the length we would go to have control over the other. We also see that politics and religion are a natural part of us for when the children became afraid of the island they left the head of any pig, they killed, on a stake for this 'thing'. On the political front, even though Ralph was popularly voted to be the Chief we saw how Jack, wanting to suppress and oppress the others, stole the Chief title from Ralph, formed his own tribe and began his savagery killing his own friends, people who were his friends and doing these because he wants to express his fearlessness or bravery to his subjects. Later, we realise that it is possible that they whole event was staged or probably an experiment. This is a true classic. Speaks on different levels.


  1. Song of Solomon I have mean to read. Not yet read Kakfa. I see your commitment to less non-African books and more African books. That's great!

  2. Song of Solomon is a great novel. If it becomes otherwise I would have failed in my quest. Reviews of these books are reviewed by a majority of readers but same can not be said of African authors.

  3. I haven't read any of these books though they all sound interesting. Kafka though... I'm not sure if / when I'll try him.

  4. @Amy.... first try Lord of the Flies, then Song of Solomon. They are good books.

  5. I love Toni Morrison and I was haunted by Kakfa when I read "The metamorphosis". I haven't read these, though.
    "Lord of the Flies" is a classic, I'd love if Italian students read that in class like they do in the UK. I think it's a novel about the human condition.

  6. @Stefania... 'haunted' is the right word. I haven't yet read 'The Metamorphosis'. Yes, Lord of the Flies is about the human condition about what we do and do not do. About who we really are and how far we can go. Sometimes I tend to think that perhaps we are savages with social and moral laws to suppress that savagery.


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