Sunday, June 25, 2017

June is for Japanese Reading Challenge

June is here, (and almost gone) school is over and what can be better than one of my favorite challenges...? The Japanese Literature Challenge, hosted by Bellezza here.  I have lost count of the years I joined the other readers who love (or are about to love) Japanese literature, but for this summer, I have planned to read two great books.
The first one is by my favorite Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami and his non-fiction book written in 2015 "Meseria de romancier" ("The Novelist as a profession", not yet translated into English), published in 2016 by Polirom in the collection dedicated to him. The book contains 12 essays on what it means to be a writer and I am so eager to discover his take on this job and the advice he gives in order to become a successful novelist.
The second one is a Japanese thriller, "Malice", by Keigo Higashino (called the Japanese Stieg Larsson), written in 1996 and translated into English in 2014. The book belongs to the Police Detective Kaga series, including 9 other novels. It is going to be my first book by Higashino, well -known in Japan for his mystery novels. "Malice" is supposed to be a book which exploits murderous feelings and the reasons why a murder is committed, rather than the killer who did it. This definitely sounds interesting for a summer read!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Art to See in Venice

All those who enter Damien Hirst's latest exhibition in Venice, you'd better believe it! 

Damien Hirst is one of the most famous and richest living artists, whose career began in the 90s and since then, he has never stopped baffling the world of contemporary art with his daring exhibitions and takes on life and death. Named "the bad boy" of British art, he has been quiet for the past decade but that was because he has been working on his newest presentation which opened in Venice on the 9th of April and will last until 3rd December. 

"Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable" is so enormous that it actually occupies two locations: Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, buildings own by the billionaire, art collector and Christie's owner Francois Pinault. 

The bold exhibition presents a sea fantasy at a fantastical scale and it even comes with a back story: the objects presented, 189 of them, come from a ship that sank 2,000 years ago. They are made of different materials, ranging from marble to silver, "belonging" to Greek, Aztec, Roman, Japanese or contemporary culture. Hirst's team even filmed this discoveries to make everything believable but, the ambiguity is always there when you look at the objects: are they more than 2,000 years old, being covered with corals, or were they created just a few years ago? 

The most impressive piece of work is his 18 meter high black statue "Demon with Bowl" that has you wonder how anyone would manage to get it inside the building. 

Even if people seem to either love or hate his exhibitions, I can truly say it was a privilege to see this incredible presentation of a genius who makes you believe the unbelievable and who has spent millions of dollars from his own pocket to do just that... until his collection is auctioned next year :) 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

God's Silence

My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 

Why would a good God allow evil to exist in the world? The silence we encounter while reading the book is the silence we go through after we have tried in vain to avoid suffering and persecution.

 Endo’s novel, written in 1966, is based on real events and people. The story occurs in 1638 and revolves around a Jesuit priest, Sebastian Rodrigues, who discovers that his former mentor, Father Ferreira, now a missionary in Japan, has apostatized (he renounced his faith under torture). Rodrigues doubts this and wants to go to Japan to find for himself but also encourage the hidden and persecuted Christians there.While hiding, running from the Japanese authorities and finally being imprisoned, Rodrigues battles with his faith and questions why God is silent in all this suffering. 

I, too, stood on the sacred image. For a moment this foot was on his face. It was on the face of the man who has been ever in my thoughts, on the face that was before me on the mountains, in my wanderings, in prison, on the best and most beautiful face that any man can ever know, on the face of him whom I have always longed to love. Even now that face is looking at me with eyes of pity from the plaque rubbed flat by many feet. 'Trample !' said those compassionate eyes. 'Trample ! Your foot suffers in pain ; it must suffer like all the feet that have stepped on this plaque. But that pain alone is enough. I understand your pain and your suffering. It is for that reason that I am here.' ‚
'Lord, I resented your silence.'
 'I was not silent. I suffered beside you.'
 'But you told Judas to go away : What thou dost do quickly. What happened to Judas?'
 'I did not say that. Just as I told you to step on the plaque, so I told Judas to do what he was going to do. For Judas was in anguish as you are now.' (307) 

Endo, a Christian himself, suffered religious discrimination and this novel is his response to the near impossibility of the Eastern and Western cultures existing harmoniously.

 Reading this beautiful novel I asked myself whether we, as human beings meant to err, do not emulate, at times, one by one, Father Ferreira, Father Rodrigues or Kichijiro, a Judas-like figure. Aren’t we the ones who do not give up hope no matter what, who question God’s existence and ask to be forgiven no matter how intolerable our sins may be? Or, as Father Ferreira, we change our views and give up our own beliefs because the circumstances demand we do so… Don’t we sacrifice ourselves for the ones we love thus changing forever our dreams and hopes?

Rodrigues apostatizes but this is not the end. It is in his heart that the love for Christ still lingers and the place where God will answer his prayers and questions.

 “He who has heard the word of God, can bear his Silence.” Saint Ignatius 

Read for my own pleasure and for Bellezza's Japanese Reading Challenge

P.S. Scorsese's movie, which appeared at the end of last year, is a wonderful rendition of the novel. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Another Gap of Time

I am (almost) speechless when my former students and current (best) friends get inspired and write about my favorite writers (after I nag them for a while :))

Here is Alle's review of Jeanette Winterson's "The Gap of Time", with a few annotations :)

If you give me a book, you give me a world. My fairy godmother knows that. She bought one for my birthday. Besides chocolate and some butterflies, thiiiiiiiis book had my name on it. She wrote some words on the first page. Those words became, by far, my favorite dedication written by this amazing woman! But... I keep it for myself until I become what she wrote there. Soon, I hope. So, dear, dear FG, I promise. I promise I'll do my best to become your favorite writer. Ooooops. I said it.

So, as I have already mentioned, this book, the present from my dearest fairy godmother was a challenge and something new. Jeanette Winterson is quite unique in style, point of view in matters of love and writing and existence, and her literature requires an open mind and acceptance, otherwise you will get bored. Maybe even annoyed. Her life and her past resulted in her writing style, so before judging an author, try to understand their lives.

I met Jeanette Winterson's literature pretty long time ago. I have this feeling because I cannot remember the things I did yesterday but years ago... Anyway. I remember something that she noticed and I agree with. She said that book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it. True story. I know my own book-obsession-occupation-disease-addiction-fascination-absurdity-fate and I am glad that someone explained all these in a quote. She gave an answer to all those who judge us, the bookworms. Now I can defend my book-obsession-occupation-disease-addiction-fascination-absurdity-fate. Full stop and breathe.

Jeanette Winterson reinvented the Winter’s Tale. The characters are renamed and the action is placed in our modern world. King Leontes becomes Leo Kaiser in Jeanette's cover, a businessman who accuses his wife, MiMi (Hermione in Shakespeare's play) and his best friend, Polixene (who becomes Xeno) of adultery. The little girl, Perdita, is abandoned by Leo who blames his wife and his best friend for an untrue complicity. He is blinded by this idea and he abandons his own child.

The title tells us about the period which wasn't presented in Shakespeare's play. Jeanette Winterson manages to create new modern characters, people who live in their own controversial worlds and, at the same time, in a common world which unites their personal tragedies. The little girl opens and closes the gap. She is part of the destiny, the one who retrieves the characters' cobweb, settling down the chaos. The parable of the angel caught in the bonds of a building and the consequences of those only two choices he can make, demonstrates the difficulty of the matter, the choice which can destroy everything forever or can cause the beginning of something new, rebuilt.

Here are my favorite quotes:
Tears of rain. (Perfect!).
You were loved then and you are loved now. Isn’t that enough? (This might be the best. In my opinion).
There was a second, the kind that holds a whole world. 
Isn't there always a history to the story?
There's no shortage of heartbreak.
I have felt safe with you and that was unexpected.
She wanted to kiss the hesitation of his throat. (This is sooooooooo... makes me close my eyes and dream).
Leave it without a name but with something to begin the story.
The past is a grenade that explodes when thrown.
The whole day passed and then it was night and nothing had changed because everything had changed.
What is a memory anyway but a painful dispute with the past?
... sometimes you have to accept that your heart knows what to do. (But what if the heart is wrong?)
Moon’s gravitational pull means that earth doesn’t wobble too much. Scientists call it obliquity. The moon holds us fast.

You can pay Alle a visit here

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

"White Feathers in the Snow"

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; 
The worlds revolve like ancient women 
Gathering fuel in vacant lots. (Preludes)

I have heard the key 
Turn in the door once and turn once only 
We think of the key, each in his prison 
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison 
Only at nightfall, aethereal rumours 
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus. (The Waste Land)

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still. (Ash Wednesday) 

What a better start of the New Year than with Jeremy Irons reading poetry on BBC Radio 4 and Jeanette Winterson introducing T.S. Eliot's work in the first three parts of the radio show? Such a fantastic insight into Eliot's work and a mesmerising rendition of his lines by Mr. Irons! I simply love it! 

T.S. Eliot (1888 - 1965) was a famous American born poet, essayist and playwright who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. Back in 1927 he became a British citizen. "The Waste Land" (1922) is considered by many to be the most influential poetic work of the twentieth century. In-between 1930-1960 he was the most dominant figure in poetry and literary criticism in the English speaking world. 

You can listen to the 5 parts for free this month here

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Japanese "Scandal"

“A person never knows their own true face. Everybody thinks that the phoney, posed social mask they wear is their real face.” 

Like any other Japanese novel that I have read, Shusaku Endo's "Scandal" impresses with the way the story unfolds and with the main character's struggle. Even if some critics have found the motif of the Doppelganger (a ghostly counterpart of a living person according to Merriam-Webster) a bit boring, I was taken aback by the way in which, step by step, everything turned blurry and I could not predict what was going to happen next. The mystery and confusion surrounding the main character, the old writer Suguru, always trying to write a better book, did not bother me; in fact, this was the key element that made me finish the novel in no time.

“True religion should be able to respond to the dark melodies, the faulty and hideous sounds that echo from the heart of men.” 

What would you do if one day someone accused you, a person of high moral beliefs, of something embarrassing and undesirable? What would you do if your wife discovered you actually hired the young girl you had been dreaming about dating to help her with the daily chores? Would you accept the invitation to a love hotel in order to hunt down the impostor that pretends to be you? What if that impostor is, in fact, you?

The novel, written in 1986, is set in Tokyo and it describes the night life of that period, with the sins and impulses that it involves for the modern man. I quite liked the story mainly because it reminded me of Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. A must read for all Japanese Literature lovers. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

About a Dormant Blog, the National Day and Romanian Writers Challenge

No, this blog is not dead, it has simply enjoyed some time off, away from the madding crowds and deeply immersed into some serious reading. To paraphrase John Lennon who said that "life is what happens when you are busy making plans", I could say that reading happens when you stop writing posts :) 

Anywayz :), I have read so many books for the challenges I am involved in that the only problem arising is which book to actually write about these days... but since today is the final day for the First Edition of Romanian Writers' Challenge I definitely have to praise a wonderful short story collection, a book which was also awarded The First Prize for a Debut Manuscript by Herg Benet Publishing House for 2014. 

"Mr. Red's Memoirs" (2015) by Celestin Cheran is the book that made me stop saying I am not a huge fan of short stories, because I think I am. I am so impressed by every single one of these stories that reminded me of Haruki Murakami's talent of sweeping us off our feet with the fantastic turn a story could take, thus being left wondering what has happened and how could the story unfold after the writer has decided to end it on paper. With each of the 20 stories you get the chance to explore a slightly fantastic universe in which dull moments of everyday life transform themselves into a troubling decor for events that may seem unimaginable at first but that manage to make you doubt yourself and your mind. 

Another thing I enjoyed while reading the short stories was the fact that they are so different one from the others that it feels as if you are reading a different author with each story. Still, I do have two or three favorites: "The Man with a Misty Face" in which a man is bothered by some stalker that turns out to be him in the future; "Jumping from a Skyscraper" in which we see a suicide in slow motion; "The Escalator"  - once you get on that escalator, there is no going back...

"You live all the time with the impression that you are somewhere in the middle of things. You are close to something and far from something else, never where you exactly want to be. In the place where something deep and inexact in you wants to be, something like a heart beating in the night covered by rivers." (The Escalator) 

Celestin Cheran defines himself as "an obsessive writer, one who writes "Six Word Stories" is order to keep his mind busy from other minds." He is 30 years old and his second volume of short stories appeared only a month ago and I will definitely read it! :) 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Pleasures of Men

It took me two years from wanting to read this book, to actually getting it and finally finishing it. I do not know why because I quite enjoyed this thriller set in Victorian times and I am glad I did not go with the rather displeasing reviews that stated it was not something spectacular... It proves that there is no account for taste and reading should be about what YOU choose to read and then like or dislike and not other people's opinion... which is not your own if you do not read the actual book.

"The Pleasures of Men" is a captivating book, quite disturbing in certain aspects, but not too disturbing to put it down. It was written in 2012 and it is Kate Williams' first book of fiction about a young girl obsessed with a serial killer in 1840 London. Williams is a historian who first published biographies on Queen Victoria or Napoleon's Josephine and this novel clearly shows her talent on telling a story while writing historical fiction.

"The footstep comes once more, and then there is a breath. Walking forward, she tells herself that there is nothing. So many times has she thought a man was too near behind when he was simply close for no reason. She hears a cough and a clack of fine-sounding heels and her chest tightens. She moves more quickly. So does he. God help me.

Catherine lives in Spitalfields together with her dubious uncle and this Gothic story tells us why little by little. She seems tormented by the fact that years ago she chose to let her little brother be taken by some strangers and she is aware this changed her for the worst. She is attracted to what is dark around her, she does not like the company of others and she tortures herself in trying to find the serial killer who hunts young girls in the scary parts of London. Is she going mad because of her past and her mother who had mental problems or the serial killer is about to get her?

She does live in a perverse world, but has she contributed to this with her own nature, or the male dominated society has taken its toll on her? We have the cries at night, the fog and the candlelight, the plotting of almost every character in the book, the bumps in the dark but luckily, we do not have the feeling that this may be a work of fiction, too melodramatic for an ordinary taste. The book often gave me the feeling that I myself was in the story, watching Catherine spying on whoever the killer was... fantasizing about his reasons to kill and his next move.

"That night, he thinks: I must discover the next one. It is exciting, his task, and daunting. The responsibility of finding. Into the streets the next day and searching for her. He understands that he must not be too ambitious, he must not expect to find her immediately. There are many girls in the city, after all."

I loved the fact that we cannot predict what would happen to Catherine and how the story would end until the last pages. Also, the way Williams renders the character's thoughts for pages on end and makes them so interesting you cannot get bored proves her excellent talent as a writer.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Becoming Jeanette Winterson

Today my favorite writer turns 57. Happy Birthday to you, Jeanette Winterson! May you remain the same incredibly inspiring writer who is not afraid to speak her mind! 

You all know that Brexit happened but you may not be aware how vocal she has been about it and how she no longer thinks that Britain, with all the ugly changes, is her country. I love the fact that, while revisiting classic stories such as Shakespeare's "Winter's Tale" in her latest novel "The Gap of Time" (2015) she can still remain grounded in the present and not shy away from having a pertinent opinion about what happens in Britain and around the world. 

In an article she wrote this June, she states something that now seems clear for most of us:

"I am an optimist by nature. I believe in solutions. We need solutions to the absolute failure of the neoliberal Project Few, whereby capitalism has been hijacked to serve the rich, where investing for the long term has been replaced by short-term profiteering, and where globalisation has been allowed to wreck local economies in the name of free trade."

She has a willingness to take risks and challenge herself and her readers that has remained constant throughout her career of more than 30 years. She is one of the most ambitious and inventive writers I have come across and I can't wait to (re)read her creative writing! 

"My two pillars are art and love and I had to learn both." 

Here is a short interview with her in Australia this May, at the Sydney Writers' Festival:

p.s. The black 'creature' in the picture is her cat, Nero. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Born to Be Blue

"I want to play. All I want is to play." 

There is no such thing as too much Ethan Hawke on this blog :) 
I am still incredibly grateful that he can be so prolific and release movie after movie, after book :) 
"Born to Be Blue" (2015) is a fantastic one, a mixture of beautiful  jazz music, a story of never giving up on your dreams and Ethan Hawke getting more and more talented (who would have thought this was possible? :)) 

"You should find one thing and be better at it than anybody else in the world." 

The drama film tells the story of Chet Baker, the American jazz trumpeter with a divine voice who falls in love in his adulthood and after getting his teeth knocked out in a fight, tries to musically come back and impress his audience with his original style and music. All this happens in the late 1960s and this is one more reason why you will most definitely enjoy the movie: the music is perfect, the atmosphere of those times is rendered vividly and 'the movie within a movie' idea (Chet was in fact asked to star in a movie about his life) mingles just fine. 

What else to add? Ethan wanted to play this part for more than 15 years but at that time, his age did not match.  After years of effort, he successfully managed to do that with his charisma, energy and fearlessness. Am I just praising him because I am a huge fan? Not really. The Guardian and Rolling Stone have written wonderful reviews. 
Last but not least, Ethan performs two of the 14 songs from the soundtrack, "My Funny Valentine" and "I've Never been in Love Before". Enjoy it! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

My Romeo and Juliet

"Don't waste your love on somebody who doesn't value it."

How I love a good live performance, especially if I get the chance to see it among the first! Almost two months ago I saw the premiere of the play "Romeo and Juliet" at the National Theatre in Cluj - Napoca. I did not know what to expect, the show did not even have a proper poster advertising it, but I am glad I went to see it with an open heart, because it proved to be unexpectedly wonderful. 

"Romeo and Juliet" (1597) is probably Shakespeare's most famous play and it has been quite popular with directors along the centuries so it was no wonder I did ask myself whether I would be surprised or not by how the director would see the play and how the actors would act everything out on stage. 

"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs."

Tudor Lucanu, the young director, set the story between the two rival families in two tailoring  workshops. The space looked simple, filled with huge moving mirrors and body-like lamps. Long pieces of colorful cloth separated the two workshops and the costumes were cleverly created so that they represented a mixture between the classic and the nonconformity.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

The performance was filled with funny moments and even though I knew what was coming next and that the play is, in fact, a tragedy, I could still enjoy the lighthearted moments which made even the actors on stage smile. I loved the way the well-known story ended, the director did not change its ending but he masterfully added a new meaning. What a great idea! Well done to the young actors who offered two hours of exquisite performance! If you have the chance to see it, you should definitely take it! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Miniaturist

"Every woman is the architect of her own fortune." 

Celebrating August as the month dedicated to Women in Translation, I had to write a few lines on this absolutely fabulous book I read last month, even if it was in English, not in translation. 
"The Miniaturist" is Jessie Burton's first book and I am definitely going to read her latest "The Muse" which appeared this June. 
Back to "The Miniaturist" (2014), the book is set in 17th century Amsterdam and it was inspired by a dolls' house which can be found in the King's Museum in Amsterdam. Actually, last year I saw this dolls' house and I still remember the effect it had on me: so small and yet so perfectly made. It has a special place in the vast museum and this is mainly because there are not as many dolls' houses in that pristine condition in the world. At that time I was not aware of the book, but then this year I read a few lines about it on a blog and the whole story intrigued me so I decided to delve in it. 

"Growing older does not seem to make you more certain. It simply presents you with more reasons for doubt." 

"The Miniaturist" is a mysterious character in the novel who helps the young and newly-wed Nella Oortman to discover the truth about her husband and his relatives and see life in a different (better?) perspective. To pass the time, Nella receives a present from her husband: a dolls' house, which is, in fact, a perfect replica of her own house. Then, the eerie miniaturist sends more figurines than she is required and the secrets start to unfold. Will she be able to cope with all of them? That is for you to find out...

"A lifetime isn't enough to know how a person will behave." 

What I really loved, besides the thrilling story and the unexpected events was the witty voice in which the whole story was narrated. The words seemed to be perfectly chosen and everything came together in such a way as to create a perfect novel. Sold in more than 1 million copies, this is a wonderful must-read. 

Here is Jessie Burton talking about her book in a BBC interview. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Women in Translation Month

Tony, from Tony's Reading List reminded me that August is the month for Women in Translation and since I am quite eager to read two or three women  writers translated into Romanian, I am definitely in for the challenge. It is the third year in which Meytal hosts the challenge and this is very simple: you have to read women writers, no matter their country or year of publishing and I am sure that, for most of you, this challenge can easily go hand in hand with others. In my case, I will read a Japanese writer (also for Bellezza's Reading Challenge), a Romanian one for the challenge I host and another one for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge. 

"Sticletele" (The Goldfinch) will be my first Donna Tartt and I can't wait to see the reasons why this book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. 

I really liked Ana Manescu's "alter.ego" and I am looking forward to reading this one, "Quasar".  She seems such a promising young voice in the Romanian literature. 

 "Pravalia de maruntisuri a domnului Nakano" (The Nakano Thrift Shop) is going to be my third Kawakami and I hope I will enjoy it as much as the other two. 

What are you reading this August? :) 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Amelie Nothomb - Part II of Paris in July

'Il y a un instant, entre la quinzième et la seizième gorgée de champagne, où tout homme est un aristocrate'

On my way to rediscover Paris in July I started reading Margaux Fragoso's "Tigre! Tigre!" but the memoir of a young girl falling in love with a fifty year old man was too serious and "fatigante", so I replaced it with Amelie Nothomb's "Le Fait du Prince", published in 2008. 

I have read books penned by Nothomb in the past, and every time I did that, I (re)discovered a very talented writer, one whose imagination goes beyond the ordinary, and "Le Fait du Prince", translated into Romanian as "The Right to Live and Die" makes no exception. 

The short novel starts with the idea of someone dying in your home and with the best steps to follow if you find yourself in this dreadful situation. Then, the main character, a bored man who can't even remember what his job is, "allows" a stranger to die in his home... only to decide to steal his life and become that rich man himself. Even though it may seem strange at first, Nothomb knows how to turn an unbelievable story into something you would like to experience... or at least write about. I really enjoyed the way she can take unpleasant characters and make them quite plausible in their actions. 
A story worth reading, whether it is for Tamara's "Paris in July" reading challenge or simply because you want to discover a very imaginative French writer... 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cold Fish

I decided to watch another Sion Sono movie and this time, I got more than I would have wished for. I was aware that the Japanese director was in for shocking the hell out of us, but he went much further and exploited the true story of two serial killers in order to transform it into something horrifying and totally outrageous. 

The title of "Cold Fish", directed in 2010, has a double meaning: the main characters are owners of exotic fish shops, but the idiom "cold fish" also refers to someone who shows no emotion and looks uninterested, until... 

The first 45 minutes seem "reasonable" to watch and you may think the story could go anywhere just to end up into something ordinary, but do not be fooled, at the Venice International Film Festival in 2010 the movie received the best screenplay award, so if you are not sickened by the literal blood and guts spread everywhere, you may ask yourself why a perfect stranger would want to help you when you face a problem... Add to this an unsatisfied wife, a house in the woods and a calm husband who can take so much... "Life is pain", utters the main character as his final line and if you are brave enough, you will be able to discover his madness at the end of this vicious and dark horror movie. 
You can find the trailer here. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Extension du domaine de l'amour... ou Paris in July part I

Mid July, I managed to read two of the three books I planned for Paris in July challenge and I was quite pleased with them, even though the two books are quite different. Here is why:

"Extension du domaine de la lutte" was written in 1994 by the French Michel Houellebecq and it was as its protagonist a depressed 30 year old man working as a programmer and whose name is not mentioned.

"Sleeping with Paris" was written in 2013 by Juliette Sobanet, who spent her youth years in the United States and Paris. Her protagonist is Charlotte Summers, a young French teacher in the States who discovers, just days before moving to Paris with her fiance, that he is a cheating bastard.

"Extension" is much for serious than Sobanet's book and I found the male character quite obnoxious from time to time, while having problems understanding his attitudes and complaints. I did not see him evolving, and this is a major trait I look for in the characters from the books I read. In fact, there is a lack of purpose and desire in him that I did not find suitable for a book during the summer days. However, it is quite interesting to see the controversial Houellebecq at work.

On the other hand, "Sleeping in Paris", or "Love in Paris" (the Romanian translation) is a light, funny book, full of kisses, sexy French guys and love... something we all connect the City of Light with, especially during a hot (please get the 'double-entendre' of the word) July. I loved its pace and the fact that each chapter brings something exciting along, whether that is a French neighbour offering you chocolates and nights full of passion, or the ex-husband who appears out of the blue to convince you he has made a huge mistake. The book is the first in a series of romantic reads set in Paris and they seem perfect for my next Paris in July challenges.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Paris in July ... Once More!

July is almost here and my reading list of French literature is ready to be tackled. I love reading in French, especially French authors because, as with Japanese literature, the French writing style is quite different and unique in capturing the French way of living and understanding life.

For this July I decided to read Michel Houellebecq's "Extension du domaine de la lutte" because I enjoyed "Platforme" years ago when I first took part in the challenge managed by Tamara here, and Houellebecq is quite a controversial figure on the French literary scene. Also, I hope to find time to watch the adaptation for the screen of the same book.

I will also read something "easy" because we need to escape the heavy, more serious literature and drown into something romantic, and what is more romantic than falling in love in Paris? So, "Love in Paris" will just come in handy. I have not read anything by the French writer Juliette Sobanet but I hope I will not be disappointed.

Trying to keep up with the novelties, I came across the title "Tigre, Tigre!" by the French writer Margaux Fragoso. Although I know nothing about her, I will give this book a go because the subject of the book is quite controversial and I am curious to see if the book is as good as it was praised by journalists from The Guardian here. 

And since the French mood is nothing without some French music, I will immerse my ears into some French sounds sung by Navii. Here is a taste of his style and his adorable Paris.