It’s been a rainy week here in Austin, and I’m not complaining even a little bit. I LOVE the rain. It might be a love born of scarcity, but I still love it. Luckily the schedule has been light this week, so I’ve been tucked away reading. Here are some of the more current novels that I’ve read on weeks like these that I think will feed your soul.
White Tiger by Aravad Adinga
The main character in this novel is the reason you read the book. Balram narrates with a sarcastic, dry humor about a world that rapidly changes as he makes his way from destitution as an orphan to a life in the glamorous, rapdily Americanizing streets of New Delhi. The references to Indian culture are educational, although laced with satire.
I say all of this to set a background but don’t want to set this up as some sort of high brow read. One of my favorite parts of this read is how accessible it is. There are really important themes about class warfare, about developing an identity as a child in horrible circumstances, and about the faith we place in the narrator of the story. BUT this is a story of a man who goes mad, and it will keep you turning the pages.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
This collection of stories will tug at your heart in a way that’s never false or contrived. There are a few about heartache, and falling in love, but over all these stories touch on the creation of relationships and how we relate to one another in some of the most real portrayals I have ever read.
The characters are people with flaws and hangups and take your breath away with some of the choices they make. There’s a woman who is destitute in squalor, a married couple slowly falling out of love, a couple being taken care of by their (also foreign neighbors). Be ready to feel things – but the writing in the story will lift you up and teach you as much as you’re willing to learn.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Historical fiction is typically not my genre. There’s lots of details that I could probably live without in a lot of novels – even though I can accept that it’s cool when an author has done a ton of research into the world they’re creating. Hilary Mantel is a MASTER of making the details worth reading. Thomas Cromwell (one of the most interesting men in history) is the main character of the novels that tell the sordid, dramatic story of life in the court of Henry the VIIth.
As a general statement, I read stories for the voice of the main character. Cromwell, with his encyclopedic knowledge of the world around him and constant planning to meet the whims of the one of the most manic monarchs in history. He’s an every day man who made his way into royalty – so read to be inspired and intrigued. You’ll find yourself hanging off of every word.
Read, enjoy – give me your recommendations! I wish you many rainy days in a good book.