May in Review, Projections for June
At the beginning of the month, I was only sure of three titles, one was to be a re-read; I however, stated that I would purchase some Russian literary works to advance my goal of reading Russian literature. At the end of the month I had read a total of four books: 2 of the projected books (Oscar and Lucinda & Saturday); 1 Russian Lit (Crime and Punishment) and 1 Nobelist from Bulgaria (Auto da Fe). The other title which I projected but did not read was Bessie Head's A Question of Power. This would have been a re-read and was directed at the Book and Discussion Club of the Writers Project of Ghana. However, I realised that I still have the story in me and could relate and discuss it without problem.
However, even at my reduced target of 60 books, I am still performing poorly on the average. To read 60 books in a month, one must read an average of 5 books a month; but I am doing less than this requirement. The problem, which is not a problem, is that I am concentrating on a lot of non-African books. So why is this the cause? Averagely, African novels are less voluminous than non-African novels. I will write about this soon. For instance, the voluminous African novel I have read is Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o at 768 pages. Most of the the Heinemann African Writers Series are below 300 pages, which is less than the average pages for a non-African novel. Thus, though I am up in total pages read, I am down on the quantity of books read. Books read:
- Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. [512 p.] This is the first book I have read by this multiple-Booker Prize winner. The story is about love unfulfilled, about ambitions aborted, about religious misunderstanding or even fanaticism, about exploration and population of a continent. It is a historical novel but not a pastiche. It is about Oscar Hopkins and Lucinda Palstrier.
- Saturday by Ian McEwan. [291 p.] Sadly, this happens to be the weakest book I have read by McEwan though it also treats some very important subjects in a very casual manner. It is about the incidents that occurred in the life of a neurosurgeon, Henry Preowne, in a day. It starts on a dull manner for a greater part of the novel and peaked only about 60 pages to the end.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky [tr. by Constance Garnett]. [485 p.] I have always wondered why I had never read any Russian novel until I made the conscious effort to. Perhaps, the books are not easily available. This book is an analysis of the human mind. It treats the concept of heroism and zeroism or the extraordinary man and the ordinary man - those who make laws and those who obey laws; those who can step over the line and those who must be in line. It also questions if a crime to avert further crimes is a crime. Thus, is there a positive Iatrogenics regarding crimes?
- Auto da Fe by Elias Canetti. [522 p.]This book had been in my possession for as long as I could remember. I took if from my parents boxes. I didn't throw it away only because I love books and feel physical pain for such acts. But when I discovered that this Bulgarian won the Nobel Prize, I wondered why I never gave it a thought. This concerns a psychotic bibliomania extraordinaire who happened to marry his house-help after eight years of service. I must say that reading this book after Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is like travelling on a highway; no difference in texture.
Projections for June
In June I would continue with my quest to read more Russian Literature. I will also need to purchase some African books else I would be accused of reneging on my vision for the blog. Thus, June will be a difficult month to predict in terms of reading titles. However, I hope to read the following:
- The Karamazov Brothers by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This continues the goal of reading Russian novels. The Karamazov Brothers is one of Dostoevsky's books recommended to me at the beginning.
- Infinite Riches by Ben Okri. I refrained from reading this book since 2009 because I wanted to read the trilogy in the order which they came. Though I've read Famished Road (the Book I), I've not been able to access the Book II - Songs of Enchantment. In view of this, I've decided to skip it and read it as and when I get it.
- Ama by Manu Herbstein. Ama won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa Region First Book Prize in 2002. Thus, it contributes to that very challenge.
- Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola. The is the Writers Project of Ghana's Book and Discussion Club's book of the month. You are welcome to join in the reading and participate in the twitter discussion of the book. You can follow all tweets about the Book and Discussion Club through the #wpghbookclub hashtag and follow the twitter handle, @writersPG.