Michael Ondaatje at his book publishing house in Toronto. Photographer: Steve Rice/TNS
Set in postwar London, Michael Ondaatje’s novel Warlight delves into the shadows left by the war, on a young man trying to make sense of what happened to his family, and on a city forever changed. For those who enjoyed the book, here are a few suggestions for further reading.
Transcription by Kate Atkinson. I thought of this book often while reading Warlight; it’s a similar setting, and a similar focus on secrets and carefully unraveled stories. The book flits between two time periods: A young woman who works during wartime as a transcriptionist for MI5 (eavesdropping on suspected fascist sympathizers), and that same character 10 years later, still haunted by her past. Atkinson’s wartime novels — I also loved “Life After Life” and “A God in Ruins” — are structured like delicate puzzles; it’s a joy figuring out how she puts them together.
Sweet Tooth and Atonement by Ian McEwan. Atonement, McEwan’s gorgeous World War II-era novel (and subsequent gorgeous movie), came up in our book-club discussion, and you should absolutely go read it (and see it) if you haven’t already. But I thought a closer match was a lesser-known McEwan novel: Sweet Tooth, set in Cold War London and, like Transcription, involving a young woman working as a spy. The book rather deliciously compares spying to reading — and what is getting lost in a novel, if it isn’t spying on someone else’s life?
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. You can’t talk about British postwar novels without this Man Booker Prize winner, one of my all-time favorite books (and also a splendid movie). The reserved, quiet butler of a British country house takes a road trip in the 1950s, looking back on what happened at that house as wartime clouds gathered. It’s a short, perfect novel of repression, regret and rueful hope; every sentence is a gem.
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Published in 2006, this twisty, backwards-told tale of three women and one man in war-torn London won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction; it immerses its reader in sights and smells and fears of wartime. Like Warlight, many secrets are eventually revealed. (A different war, but also a marvelously gripping read, is Waters’ The Paying Guests, set in post-World War I London.)
Now Calhoun, the author of a memoir, “The Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give,” and an urban history, “St. Marks Is Dead,” explores the issue in depth in her latest book, “Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis.”
Australian writer Thomas Keneally can be a hard sell. Brilliant, visionary and astoundingly prolific, he has written such bestsellers as “Schindler’s List” and “The Daughters of Mars,” as well as more than 40 other books.
President Obama, known as an avid reader, continued his tradition of releasing a list of his favorite books of the year. He also mentioned the collected works of Toni Morrison, to whom he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Here’s a taste of some of the books that we are most looking forward to in the first few months of 2020. And when you finish all of these books — or some of these books — you can look up and realize that yes, it is spring. And there are more books ahead.
In 2019, Camille Pépin was the only girl in composition lessons at the Paris Conservatory. The promotion of female composers must also be carried out at the level of conservatories, she says
Rihanna has opened up about feeling like a “clown” at the 2015 Met Gala because of how the other guests were dressed.
Actress Rhea Chakraborty, who has been missing over the past few days, reportedly left her building in the middle of the night along with her family.