this is one of those great books where underneath on one level there is a fairly straight story going on with some miners trying to make their fortune from illegally taking gem deposits but added to that there is some mystical elements.
The story is haunted by tales of the mistress of the mountain who can enchant those digging for gems, the rock hounds, and that idea of Russia existing in both the past and the present and in this world and a parallel one all at the same time.
There is also a love story developing between the main character Krylov and a woman he meets and gives a nickname to but as the country starts to move closer to the anniversary of the revolution the past catches up with the future and the ghosts reach out to change the lives of the living.
A review will follow on completion…
Hope 2011 brings you all a good year with plenty of reading. may your reading challenges be successful, your tbr piles ploughed through with ease and your purchases wise ones!
Thanks to the folks over at Bookswarm they have kindly added a feed of this blog to their reviewer section on their Feedread service. It’s great that they have done that and will add another way for people to get this blog.
It’s lucky I left a gap in the reading for this month to have a book spare incase C didn’t win the Booker prize. Sure enough that decision turned out to be a wise one as Howard Jacobson won with The Finkler Question.
Watching the coverage of the prize on the BBC I found the comments made by the chair of the judges Sir Andrew Motion were worth listening to and remembering. His passionate defence of culture in a time of cuts is one that hopefully government ministers will have picked up on.
Taking the axe to arts budgets seems to be an easy option in times of hardship but as Motion said the cultural richness of a nation is as important as its economic wealth.
It was interesting to watch Newsnight Review and get a glimpse into what some of the movers and shakers in the lit world think will win the Booker prize next week.
The broad agreement seemed to be that C was the favorite but it wasn’t necessarily a popular choice. John Mullan expressed his dislike of the pr around the book that it was an ‘anti-novel’ pointing out that if anything it had a chronology and a main character that made it in some respects quite like a traditional novel.
But at the end as the four critics were asked what they thought would win there was a split between McCarthy’s C and Damon Galgut’s in a Strange room.
You get the feeling that if C doesn’t win it’s going to be quite a surprise. even the bookies aren’t taking anymore bets on it. Waiting to see what happens on the 12 October.
The question of whether or not literary prizes are worth while or not is certainly one that I come down on the side of them being a very useful exercise. Okay you can argue until the cows come home about who should be on shortlists etc but the point is that the lists of those considered has the effect of making you try out new authors.
So at this time of year with the Booker prize about to be unveiled and the Nobel prize for Literature unveiled today there is plenty of suggestions for the TBR pile.
At this point I need to admit that although I managed to read the previous winner of the Nobel prize but one Le Clezio I still have to get through a book from last year’s winner Herta Muller. The colleague at work who has lent it to me will probably start wondering what has happened to it.
This month as earlier pointed out I plan to leave some space in my reading time for some Mario Vargas Llosa and if need be the winner of the Booker if it turns out not to be McCarthy, which I’ve managed to read.
These are inspiring times.
This has easily been my worst month for blogging so far all I can do is apologise. I am trying to read more and as a result the reviews are stacking up unwritten. Please bear with me while I get the fingers tapping again.
This book unravels like an onion with it matching that vegetable for its power to start the tear ducts tingling.
The fact that it manages to get you feeling involved and connected with the lives of a farm running family in South Africa is something that you would struggle to predict at the start.
With things starting with a son flying home from America to South Africa to attend his mother’s funeral the reader struggles to get to grips with the landscape and the history. Both unfold bit by bit leaving you understanding more about the lead characters but also more about the country.
The family at the heart of the story have lived and run a farm for generations through the years of apartheid. Now things in the country have changed but the ghostly trace of previous attitudes remains and are heightened for someone who has not visited the country for many years.
But why has Michael not visited for so long? His disgrace leaving a pregnant girlfriend and being demoted in the army because of a homosexual encounter with a fellow solider haunt him and his family.
Coming back for his mother’s funeral he has to face the people he hurt and face the bitterness of his father. The fact his eldest brother, who drowned, was also gay and took his own life to avoid death through AIDS is an extra twist that weakens the position of the father even more.
But as much as this is about personal reconciliation and forgiveness it is also about South Africa. The past can never be forgotten but it is the way people not only act now but how they act given their past that counts.
Having been away on holiday camping, and still technically off although now back at home, I’m going to try and get back into the blogging saddle. Shouldn’t be too long but bear with me for a couple of days.