Leaves

Rarely have I enjoyed the first frost as must as this year.

DSC 8133

It’s time to look back, and the theme leaves suggests that I list the books that I found memorable this year.

DSC 7876

In the English language, there were several books I really liked. Zero K by Don DeLillo, and The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. DeLillo’s book is atypical for him, the humor of his earlier books has disappeared, and the discussion of the acceptability of death reminded me of classic greek theater. Ishiguro has been writing against being compartmentalized for a while, and his Buried Giant is no exception. I must admit that he has tricked me with this book: I thought it was an easy read, but only later realized that I have forgotten crucial parts, very much akin to the forgetting that is happening in the book itself. It’s a daunting book.

DSC 8107

I haven’t read as many French books from this year as I would have wished, mainly because I will probably forever play catch up with previous years. The one outstanding book though is the completely devastating Chanson douce by Leïla Slimani. The book begins with the death of two children, killed by their trusted baby sitter. While we learn more about it, we have to reconsider what makes a life worth living. This book has won the Prix Goncourt this year. While I don’t trust book prizes blindly, they sometimes get it right.

DSC 8114

Then there are the books in German. For me, the clear winner is Am Rand, by the Austrian writer Hans Platzgumer. Once more this year we hear about a life, and its end. This appears to be this year’s theme in literature: Ways of dealing with death. This sounds morbid, but the point is that while the protagonists approach death one way or the other, we learn about how they deal with life, and in all the books above there is a lot to learn.

DSC 7873

Incidentally, by favorite book this year is not about death at all but rather about a desperate attempt to grasp life. J.M Coetzee’s The Schooldays of Jesus is the sequel to his The Childhood of Jesus, and it is pretty clear that there is more to come. We follow two immigrants (a man and a boy) in a nameless, kafkaesque country. The man is willing to accept his new life, while the young boy questions everything, creating meaning in a senseless world.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s