Still words and moving pictures
By Natalie Kombe
So we decided that instead of showcasing the latest books, chances are that over the years there have been a few gems that may have slipped under your radar, or perhaps you haven’t gotten around to reading said gems and need to be reminded of what you are missing out on. The following are six fabulous books that literally take you around the world. If you’re up for a global adventure then go buy all six of them immediately, but if you’re only keen on one or two destinations, here a few guidelines to help you pick the right book for you present mood.
1. Fear of Flying- Erica Jong (USA): This book made a huge splash when it was first released in 1973. The generous dose of intellectual humour in the novel will have you laughing nearly every time you read a new page of it. Controversial and revolutionary at its time because of its approach to female sexuality (Think of a dark time before Sex and the City), Fear of flying is a must read for every young woman whose ever had an opinion on anything.
2. Book of the Night Women- Marlon James (Jamaica): Honestly when I was first given the book, I read the blurb at the back and it took months for me to pick it up and read it. When I finally read it I couldn’t put it down, I finished it in a couple of days. Set in the early 1800’s during the slave trade, on a plantation in Jamaica, Book of the Night Women tells the story of a young slave girl name Lilith who starts out thinking she’s above the other slaves, and whose actions lead her down an irrevocable course of murder, forbidden love and forgiveness for her white overseer father.
3. The Russian Concubine- Kate Furnivall (China): Fascinating, heartbreaking, romantic and eye opening are the words that come to mind when I think of The Russian Concubine. My time with this book was short lived as I read it in a day. Granted I spent the whole day in bed and only got up for meals, being an out of work actor (at the time) will do that to you. But aside from that fact, the book itself was just that riveting. 1920’s China, particularly life in the International settlement of Junchow, is a life I would have no insight to, were it not for this novel. It is a tale of fraught with political complications, human indecency, racial and class divides, and out of all that springs up a romance between the main character, a young Russian girl, Lydia Ivanova and a Chinese boy, Chang An Lo.
4. Pillars of the Earth- Ken Follett (England): This has to be my favourite author, next to JK Rowling of course. In this epic of a tale, Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel set in 12thcentury England. Now I know you’re thinking 12thcentury England, historical, blah, but trust me you do not want to miss out on the drama, deceit, machinations and sycophancy that is Pillars of the Earth. Medieval England has never been as appealing as it is in Ken Follett’s novel, with all its vulgar and sometimes savage honesty about human nature.
5. Half of a Yellow Sun- Chimananda Ngozi Adiche (Nigeria) This haunting novel tells the story of the tumultuous events in Nigeria that lead to the Biafrian war and its devastating consequences. Olanna and Kainene are two very different sisters, who are caught up in this war along with the men they love. The book showcases life before the war and how everything drastically deteriorates in such a short space of time. Some of the characters find themselves in situations where their moral compasses are tested, but because of the chaos of the times, find themselves making questionable choices.
What to Watch
As a fanatic for film, I could go on all week about movies, but seeing as that is not so practical, I have given myself a challenge of describing the following movies, each with one sentence.
1. The Children of Huang Shi: Based on a true story, this a powerful movie about a British journalist named George Hogg, who found himself become a much needed and much loved father figure to a group of orphaned Chinese boys in late 1930’s China.
2. Jozi: This is a hilarious account of living in Johannesburg and trying to navigate through the paranoia, crime and pressures of city life, on a daily basis, with your sanity intact.
3. Flipped: Simply the cutest movie about first love, with little pearls of wisdom dispersed throughout the story.
4. Persepolis: An Oscar nominated Black and White Frenchanimation with subtitles, astutely illustrating Marjane Satrapi’s childhood in Iran, during and after the Islamic revolution.
5. Lagaan: Also Oscar nominated, Lagaanis an inspiring movie about a village in British occupied India who cannot afford the land tax, so as a wager, the British offer a three year waver of the land tax, as long as the villagers beat them in a game of cricket, a sport which none of the villagers have ever played.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0889588/ Children of Huang Shi
http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Book_of_Night_Women.html?id=PdNmc91uBCkC Book of the Night Women
http://www.ken-follett.com/bibliography/the_pillars_of_the_earth.htmlPillars of the Earth
http://www.halfofayellowsun.com/content.php?page=book&n=2&f=2Half of a Yellow Sun
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_Flying_(novel)Fear of Flying
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