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What Are You Reading Currently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

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^ Of Love and Other Demons, another of Marquez's beautiful creation. Set in 1700s Colombia, it's a story of a little girl born to a family of nobles whose landholdings are disappearing along with the fading of their family name. The twelve year old daughter of the landlord is bitten by a dog and contracts rabies, or at least everyone in the story thinks so, and then starts her treatment. When traditional medicines fail to treat her wound the word goes out to the Catholic leader of the Church who forces the father to entrust the girl to a convent of nuns, party to treat her, partly to quarantine her, where in their delusion of solitary life they come to believe that the girl is possessed and must be exorcised. Then starts a macabre story of blind faith overtaking sanity.

 

It's as much a fantastic depiction of the colonial Colombia, its society and its politics as it is an indirect dig at the religious perceptions of the time. And as always, in the words of Zulfikar Ghose, words not ideas. The voice, the point of view and the style of the narrative takes you into a magical world of possibilities. Very engrossing read. Full marks.

 

Currently reading this, one hundred pages in and find it irritatingly random and excruciatingly slow. It looks like Nadeem Aslam had exhausted his repertoire of skills in writing his previous novel.

 

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Also reading a slim volume of originally English poems from a new poetess from down here.

 

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The Diary of a Superfluous Man by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev. The title caught my attention. I'm only a few pages in and am undecided yet whether it is worth my time. Thus far it is the story of a privileged but unhappy man wallowing in self pity.

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I'm also listening to an audiobook of War of the Worlds, which I have read at least twice before. There are just a few books I'm willing to read again and again, and this is one. It is so easy to get caught up in a good story. This is one sci-fi book that could be called outdated just on the bare facts, but is timeless nonetheless.

My son is also begging me to read Middle School: the Worst Years of My Life. :donno: Usually his picks are pretty good but that title really puts me off for some reason.

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Finished Nadeem Aslam's The Wasted Vigil. It's a story set in post 9/11 Afghanistan about a Russian woman who comes back to find out what happened to her disappeared soldier brother during the Soviet-Afghan war, and other sub-stories about other characters.

 

Terrible novel, this one: a hodgepodge of random stories, hardly believable characters and a dense self-conscious tone that's always there in Aslam's work but in this novel becomes stronger and irritating, sometimes degenerating into Political Commentary for Dummies.

 

The other thing that greatly irks me is that why can't Pakis write an English language novel without importing some characters from England and America to come and settle in Afghanistan or Pakistan for it to be credibility read internationally? Do they think focusing on the lives of indigenously developed characters with their problems or whatever it is that they are expounding would make their work any less global? What utter nonsense. What utter display of slavish mentality. All great non-Western novels from other parts of the world that I have read are grounded so completely in the local - local culture, local characters, local problems, local solutions; they don't create false characters to give themselves a chance to be read in the West. [/rant over]

 

The poetry book is going, slowly and intermittently. Tough language of a Shakespeare's niece. The debutant poetess is trying to sound more imaginatively resourceful than she really is. Hmmm

 

After this I read Hanif Kureishi's Gabriel's Gift. I like his other books. He is a wonderful writer by all means but this novel is like a loose canon is Kureishi's otherwise formidable armoury. This one didn't pique my interest at all; it was too plain, almost boring, uneventful and unimaginative, as if the writer had written it in haste, half-heartedly.

 

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Can I have a good novel please? Can I have good art that stirs the innermost chords of one's being? Any suggestions? People?

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Re-reading the following for a detailed critique I am supposed to ghost-write. It's interesting how after many years I read it, I now see it in a different light than I did when I first read it.

 

It's such a brilliant satire that so long as absolutist ideological dictatorships will exist, this novel will retain its freshness and relevance.

 

Although the book's sales skyrocketed in the wake of NSA revelations while many commentators were comparing US spy programme with 1984's Big Brother, I still don't think it was a legitimate comparison. But anyway...

 

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1984 by George Orwell

 

(First published 1949)

 

 

Got hold of the following, will start soon. It was shortlisted for Man Booker '13.

 

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The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

 

(First published 2012)

 

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The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

 

(First published 2012)

 

Almost half way through, and I'm not sure if I can keep going on. I understand it got mixed reviews - and if I am asked for a rating I'd rate it below average - but what I can't understand that how this novel ended up in Booker's shortlist. I wouldn't have promoted it from the longlist.

 

It's a story narrated by the assumed voice of Mary the Virgin, who is reminiscing on the crucifixion of his son and trying to make sense of her grief and the futility of her son's sacrifice. She doesn't believe in his son's doctrine: that is the son of God on a heavenly mission, and she is trying to understand what befell her and her family.

 

It is obviously written from a non-religious point of view, to provoke debate about how Mary saw her son's mission and how she understood her times. It could have been better if the narrative delved into the sociopolitical landscape of the time and were not merely a first person narrative written in a terse monotone, with an air of mystery and conflation of characters throughout. Toibin's writing is being called 'lyrical'. Maybe it is lyrical but it is certainly not interesting, engaging or arresting in a way good writing is.

 

I'd rate it no more than 2/5.

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Finished the Catcher in the Rye on Monday, thought it was excellent; now I'm just over half way through Norwegian Wood. I think it's very good so far, but not very Muslim-friendly unfortunately. I have a ridiculously large number of books to work my way through this summer, so I will keep updating this thread. 

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Finished the Catcher in the Rye on Monday, thought it was excellent; now I'm just over half way through Norwegian Wood. I think it's very good so far, but not very Muslim-friendly unfortunately. I have a ridiculously large number of books to work my way through this summer, so I will keep updating this thread. 

 

Good to know that. At least I will no longer be alone in here posting about books and talking to myself :dry:

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Good to know that. At least I will no longer be alone in here posting about books and talking to myself :dry:

I am really impressed by your ability to complete these novels in such a short length of time. Perhaps it takes me longer because I have to visualise what I am reading in order for it to be understood fully. Sometimes I have to even re-read an entire paragraph to understand what I had just read. Maybe I am just a tad bit intellectually deficient.

Your reviews have great clarity and precision, by the way. Kudos.

I'm reading economic books by Yanis Varoufakis, a Greek author who has an amazing ability to write with great lucidity and profundity at the same time. A true erudite. He is the only person who has provided a rational solution to the Euro Crisis titled the "Modest Proposal." He says it is actually a crisis of capital rather than debt, debt being only a symptom of an overall incompetent system. I advise everyone to check it out.

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post-74619-0-39709300-1402094301.jpeg

 

Men of Maize by Miguel Angel Asturias -"The novel is written in six parts, each exploring the contrast of traditional Indian (i.e. indigenous people of Guatemala) customs and a progressive, modernizing society. Asturias's book explores the magical world of indigenous communities, a subject which the author was both passionate and knowledgeable of."


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The orthodox Church by Timothy Ware - an introduction to the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church 


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Gabriel's Wings : Study into the Religious Ideas of Allama Iqbal by Annemarie Schimmel 

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Started a short book: compilation of poetry by Imam Khomeini

It's short, but the richness of irfani content is very difficult to understand. But even so, it's beautiful. Anything by this legendary man, is.

 

fm6nwz.jpg

 

The Wine of Love, Mystical Poetry of Imam Khomeini

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Good to know that. At least I will no longer be alone in here posting about books and talking to myself :dry:

I am really impressed by your ability to complete these novels in such a short length of time. Perhaps it takes me longer because I have to visualise what I am reading in order for it to be understood fully. Sometimes I have to even re-read an entire paragraph to understand what I had just read. Maybe I am just a tad bit intellectually deficient.

Your reviews have great clarity and precision, by the way. Kudos.

I'm reading economic books by Yanis Varoufakis, a Greek author who has an amazing ability to write with great lucidity and profundity at the same time. A true erudite. He is the only person who has provided a rational solution to the Euro Crisis titled the "Modest Proposal." He says it is actually a crisis of capital rather than debt, debt being only a symptom of an overall incompetent system. I advise everyone to check it out.

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I am really impressed by your ability to complete these novels in such a short length of time. Perhaps it takes me longer because I have to visualise what I am reading in order for it to be understood fully. Sometimes I have to even re-read an entire paragraph to understand what I had just read. Maybe I am just a tad bit intellectually deficient.

Your reviews have great clarity and precision, by the way. Kudos.

I'm reading economic books by Yanis Varoufakis, a Greek author who has an amazing ability to write with great lucidity and profundity at the same time. A true erudite. He is the only person who has provided a rational solution to the Euro Crisis titled the "Modest Proposal." He says it is actually a crisis of capital rather than debt, debt being only a symptom of an overall incompetent system. I advise everyone to check it out.

 

Images are formed constantly as you read along and their power rests on how much you are engaged with the story. So I'd say it is most probably the accumulated experience of one's reading which, beyond a certain point in your reading life, turns you into an attentive and fast reader. But you cannot underestimate the importance of daily habit, and also of the time spared for the books before retiring to the bed. Barring special occasions, or when I'm travelling or working away from home, I have developed a habit of reading anything between 50 to 100 pages of a book before I sign off for the day. And I know it for sure that I can double those pages only if I stop wasting so much time on SC!

 

For re-reading passages to obtain a clearer understanding of the text, when I read Sartre's novel Nausea (La Nausée), I literally had to re-read the last four or five pages at least as many times to understand what was going on :wacko:

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Halfway through this:

east+of+eden.jpg

I have high hopes for this one. I've read so many promising reviews.

 

I was stunned this did not make the Guardian's 100 best books list.

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I finally finished The Testament of Mary, owing to my sometimes irritating habit of not giving up on a book without reading it to the last. And my views on the book as I wrote previously stand.

 

If you don't know already, I want to introduce the visitors to this thread to Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish Nobel Laureate, who in my estimation is a wonderful contemporary writer. I had bought this one on a book fair in Lahore a while ago, and I've started on it.

 

If you want to acquaint yourself with Pamuk's top work, I recommend Snow and strongly recommend My Name is Red, which is arguably his best novel.

 

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The Museum of Innocence

 

Translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely

First published in English 2009

 

 

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Back to posting.

 

 

Started Dongri To Dubai: Six Decades of The Mumbai Mafia by S. Hussain Zaidi.

 

Now that you mention Syed Hussain Zaidi, let me reminisce a bit.

 

I met the author in a personal capacity during the initial stages of the research he was conducting for his book on Dawood Ibrahim. He visited Pakistan as a journalist during the 2004 Indo-Pak cricket series and while his cousin, a sports journalist, was covering the match in Karachi, he told him that he'd slip off to follow his leads about Dawood Ibrahim's secretive residence in Karachi, and I heard him tell his cousin that if he didn't return from his 007 stunt, he knew which bell to rings and whom to inform. He safely made it back, but I'm not sure if he was able to gather any evidence/information.

 

Back in Lahore I showed him around the city. He had heard of legendary Phajjy ke paye and wanted to try. I took him there. Next evening we went to the Food Street to have BBQ. The guy ate voraciously and then wanted to visit a gym to burn off what he'd eaten lol. Later one evening, when he was talking to his wife in India I heard him say, 'I have been writing all sorts of negative things about Pakistanis but they are quite nice people. Instead of ripping us off, the cab drivers refuse to take money when we tell them we're Indians!" He was quite impressed by the hospitality and the common man's commonality as he went around in the Pakistani cities.

 

He is virulently anti-Pakistan, as many Indian Shias tend to be, and during our time together in Lahore he asked me, "It is just like Delhi. Everything is so similar. And Karachi is like Mumbai, but cleaner than Mumbai. People are the same, to phir Pakistan kyun banaya? So why did you create Pakistan?"

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Now that you mention Syed Hussain Zaidi, let me reminisce a bit.

 

I met the author in a personal capacity during the initial stages of the research he was conducting for his book on Dawood Ibrahim. He visited Pakistan as a journalist during the 2004 Indo-Pak cricket series and while his cousin, a sports journalist, was covering the match in Karachi, he told him that he'd slip off to follow his leads about Dawood Ibrahim's secretive residence in Karachi, and I heard him tell his cousin that if he didn't return from his 007 stunt, he knew which bell to rings and whom to inform. He safely made it back, but I'm not sure if he was able to gather any evidence/information.

 

Back in Lahore I showed him around the city. He had heard of legendary Phajjy ke paye and wanted to try. I took him there. Next evening we went to the Food Street to have BBQ. The guy ate voraciously and then wanted to visit a gym to burn off what he'd eaten lol. Later one evening, when he was talking to his wife in India I heard him say, 'I have been writing all sorts of negative things about Pakistanis but they are quite nice people. Instead of ripping us off, the cab drivers refuse to take money when we tell them we're Indians!" He was quite impressed by the hospitality and the common man's commonality as he went around in the Pakistani cities.

 

He is virulently anti-Pakistan, as many Indian Shias tend to be, and during our time together in Lahore he asked me, "It is just like Delhi. Everything is so similar. And Karachi is like Mumbai, but cleaner than Mumbai. People are the same, to phir Pakistan kyun banaya? So why did you create Pakistan?"

 

hahahaa. His anti-Pakistan vitriol is on full display in the book. He makes bizarre and often ridiculous claims about Dawood Ibrahim's influence in Pakistan, painting a larger than life picture of the don.

 

Dawood Ibrahim's security, for example, by "Pak Rangers" puts the "security of the Pakistani President to shame" and that "various chief ministers of Pakistani provinces were found queuing for an audience with him." Then he claims "Dawood's parallel economy keeps Pakistan afloat" and that "he bailed out Pakistan's Central Bank in 2000" lol. 

 

Indian imagination about its enemies, and ours about ours, is really colourful. Cut from the same cloth.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Currently reading "The Memory of Love" by Aminatta Forna. It goes back to Sierra Leone in the late 1960s and then the 1970s. Personally, I think there are moments in which there is too much description, but in many places the wording is astounding.

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Currently reading "The Memory of Love" by Aminatta Forna. It goes back to Sierra Leone in the late 1960s and then the 1970s. Personally, I think there are moments in which there is too much description, but in many places the wording is astounding.

 

Sounds rubbish to be honest. 

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Sounds rubbish to be honest.

Lol there are quite a few parts that I ended up skipping. Some were boring, others perverted. I'm trying to keep myself busy these days so I picked it up and started reading. It's interesting enough imho, thought there are potholes. I also have " East of Eden" but I've been too lazy to start it after seeing it is over 600 pages lol

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Lol there are quite a few parts that I ended up skipping. Some were boring, others perverted. I'm trying to keep myself busy these days so I picked it up and started reading. It's interesting enough imho, thought there are potholes. I also have " East of Eden" but I've been too lazy to start it after seeing it is over 600 pages lol

 

Do not shy away from lengthy books. They take time but they are often very rewarding. The best novels tend to be twice the size of our average 250 to 300-page novel.

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Lol there are quite a few parts that I ended up skipping. Some were boring, others perverted. I'm trying to keep myself busy these days so I picked it up and started reading. It's interesting enough imho, thought there are potholes. I also have " East of Eden" but I've been too lazy to start it after seeing it is over 600 pages lol

 

:(

I was only joking and you didn't pick up on it. 

 

I just preordered this:

 

murakami%20cover.jpg

 

I read a Murakami novel recently, and really enjoyed it. He has an excellent writing style.

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