My apologies for the lack of post last week. Having worked back-to-back 60 hour weeks, I simply didn’t have the brain power left to write a review deserving of any book. Plus, I recently joined a number of book clubs as part of my international literature mania, and I found myself needing to finish 3 books within less than 3 weeks. Needless to say, the little free time that I did have was largely spent curled up on my sofa with a book in my hand.
I’ve never been a big proponent of book clubs, not because of any dislike, but more so because I didn’t know how to insert myself into the literary world. Few of my friends are avid readers– to demonstrate this point, a small group of friends decided to start a book club earlier this year with the timing coincidentally aligning with the COVID-19 related closures. The first two months were great with vivacious discussions and thrown opinions, but the enthusiasm has waned exponentially resulting in the last 2 months virtual gatherings being cancelled altogether. I must admit that part of this is likely due to the less than stellar book choices we’ve had…but I digress.
Since my friends reading interests didn’t quite align with my own, this led me to finally venture into new groups:
I attended my very first London Books Without Borders Book Club zoom meeting yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to talk with complete strangers about such vulnerable topics (we were discussing The Discomfort of Evening). The group was incredibly welcoming, and my fears of rejection as the sole American were quickly assuaged by the book club maestro’s emphasis on hearing and valuing each participant’s thoughts.
Up next, I’m looking forward to my first meeting with Idlewild Books’ Women in Translation Book Club. While this group was originally created with the intention of meeting in the bookshop’s Manhattan space, a silver lining of COVID-19 related social distancing has meant that it has been opened to participants from around the world. In their upcoming October meeting, we will be discussing Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, so keep your eye out for a full review on the blog!
As I wrote this review this morning, it seemed only fitting that I would be relaxing with a Dutch Dirt Mask* on my face. The gritty brown of the mask, though refreshing, had the look of excrement smeared on my skin– a proper look when reflecting on the coarse language and extensive cow imagery that makes The Discomfort of Evening so raw and powerful.
This English-debut novel by Dutch power-house writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translated by Michelle Hutchison is the winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize and easily one of the most talked about books of the year. It’s one of those rare books that is a difficult read, not because of vocabulary or plot, but because of the extreme unambiguity used to describe the less kosher aspects of childhood. Read the full review to get my complete thoughts on this divisive work.
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*Link provided for reference. I have no affiliation with Bloomeffects or Credo Beauty.