I missed writing. There is no better way to fill in the void by reading others beautiful writings.
At one of my latest visits to a bookshop, my eyes fell on three book covers:
Traveling on One Leg by Herta Muller
The bad girl by Mario Varga Llossa
and South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.
A heavy Kindle reader, my hands missed the feel and touch of paper printed books (forgive me, Swedish trees!). Muller and Llossa are to follow my Read all Noble Prize Winners in Literature project. Murakami was a bonus, for my devotion to my project.
Inhaling the scary and longed after freedom of a young woman forcedly-voluntarily exiting her birth country to antagonize with accepting her homesickness facing an unknown future in an unknown country in Herta’s Muller’s minimalist yet dissecting style brought the feeling of gratitude for values we seem to accept as ordinary. The protagonist is not alone: three other male characters join her. Yet, one cannot escape the feeling of loneliness that transpires through this book. The protagonist’s trajectory might be easily Herta’s or of million of people rejected by/displaced from their homeland and antagonizing with their newly found land, which they wish to call ‘home’.
It was the disparate reviews of The bad girl (see e.g. in The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jan/12/fiction2 and New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/books/review/Harrison.html?pagewanted=all that guided my choice. A girl in search of self devastates on her way the life of a man who is in and out of her life for almost four decades. The human nature is nuanced at its best: devotion repaid with infidelity, care – with cruelty, generosity with abandonment. At a point I lost my patience with the female character, just to realise that I might as well be looking into the mirror :). Some say there is little new in the plight. True, but Llossa refreshing, spiraling and truly reader-respectful style is what stays with me after having had finished with the Bad Girl.
I found „Murakami’s wisest and most compelling fiction” a kind of tribute to love on its own right. South of the Border, West of the Sun attempts to anchor the search for love in romantically nested realism or realistically nested romantism, if you wish. Childhood ideals may fade away or invade adult life but it doesn’t mean they are wrong. It’s just what they are. Boasting one’s life for the sake of a childhood memory of love is momentarily painful, as the protagonist will tell you in this book. Not cherishing the gifts of life at each stage is eternally painful, is my take away message from this book.
With my void filled by the greatest of greatest, I am turning now to another exhilarating author of the XXth Century – Gao Xingjian, the first Chinese recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. With care for Swedish trees, I’ll turn on my Kindle now.