Books

Books of the Month - Month of the Books #9

“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Reading time 8 minutes

“The Frightened Ones” By Dima Wannous

Finalist for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

A timely and haunting novel from an exciting new voice in international literature, set in present-day Syria.

In her therapist’s waiting room in Damascus, Suleima meets a strange and reticent man named Naseem, and they soon begin a tense affair. But when Naseem, a writer, flees Syria for Germany, he sends Suleima the unfinished manuscript of his novel. To Suleima’s surprise, she and the novel’s protagonist are uncannily similar. As she reads, Suleima’s past overwhelms her and she has no idea what to trust – Naseem’s pages, her own memory, or nothing at all?

Narrated in alternating chapters by Suleima and the mysterious woman portrayed in Naseem’s novel, “The Frightened Ones” is a boundary-blurring, radical examination of the effects of oppression on one’s sense of identity, the effects of collective trauma, and a moving window into life inside Assad’s Syria.

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“The Frightened Ones” By Dima Wannous

About the Author

Dima Wannous was born in 1982. She is a Syrian writer and translator who studied French literature at Damascus University and the Sorbonne and who has worked in both print and broadcast media. She has written for a number of Arabic and international newspapers including The Washington Post. In addition to “The Frightened Ones”, her first work published in English, she is also the author of a shortstory collection, “Details” (2007), and the novel “The Chair” (2008). She was named as one of the “Beirut 39,” a group of thirty-nine of the top Arab writers under the age of forty chosen by the Hay Festival. Dima is the daughter of Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous. She is married to the Syrian journalist Ibrahim Hamidi and lives with him in London.

“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith 

Chosen by the Guardian as one of the Best Books of the 21st Century

The international bestseller and modern classic of multicultural Britain - an unforgettable portrait of London

One of the most talked about debut novels of all time, “White Teeth” is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing - among many other things - with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.

At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith. Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, “White Teeth” revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.

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“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith 

About the Author

Zadie Smith (b. 1975) is the author of the novels “White Teeth”, “The Autograph Man”, “On Beauty”, “NW” and “Swing Time”, as well as a novella, “The Embassy of Cambodia”, and three collections of essays, “Changing My Mind”, “Feel Free” and “Intimations”. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People. Zadie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. “White Teeth” won multiple literary awards including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award. “On Beauty” was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and “NW” was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of fiction at New York University and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

“The Color Purple” by Alica Walker 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

Iconic modern classic

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, “The Color Purple” depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience. “The Color Purple” broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.

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“The Color Purple” by Alica Walker 

About the Author

Alice Walker (b. 1944) is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist. In 1982, she wrote the novel “The Color Purple” and won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Her other novels include “By the Light of My Father’s Smile” and “Possessing the Secret of Joy”. She is also the author of three collections of short stories, three collections of essays, seven volumes of poetry, and several children’s books. An avowed feminist, Walker coined the term womanist to mean “A black feminist or feminist of color” in 1983. The term was made to unite women of color and the feminist movement at “the intersection of race, class, and gender oppression.”

Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker now lives in Northern California.

“The Girl with the Louding Voice" by Abi Daré 

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and recommended by The New York Times, Marie Claire, Vogue, Essence, PopSugar, Daily Mail, Electric Literature, Red, Stylist, Daily Kos, Library Journal, The Everygirl, and Read It Forward!

The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, “The Girl with the Louding Voice” is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams. 

Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same. Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again” (Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show) even as Adunni shows us how one courageous young girl can inspire us all to reach for our dreams…and maybe even change the world.

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“The Girl with the Louding Voice" by Abi Daré 

About the Author

Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for eighteen years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an M.Sc. in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University as well as an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University of London. “The Girl with the Louding Voice” won The Bath Novel Award for unpublished manuscripts in 2018 and was also selected as a finalist in 2018 The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two daughters, who inspired her to write her debut novel.

Assambled by Tanja Beljanski

 

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