Tag Archives: literature

Three in one go: Muller, Llossa, Murakami

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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.

I literally devoured these three books in three weeks.1

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’.

2It 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.

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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.

My To Read List: All Nobel Prizes in Literature

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The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded 104 times to 108 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2011. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/. By the way, Winston Churchill won his Nobel prize in Literature, not Peace).

I am kind of lagging behind. And got distracted by the fuss around “50 Shades of Grey” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18618648. And after 50 pages of “50 shades …” I can attest that the distraction was not worth it. Sorry, E.L. James.

So, back to my list. Shall I go for Pamuk? “My Name is Red” sounds good. Amazon, please!

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Kansas City Library

1. Mo Yan, 2012

2. Tomas Tranströmer, 2011

3. Mario Vargas Llosa, 2010. Read “The Bad Girls” in Jan.2012 🙂

4. Herta Müller, 2009.  Read “Travelling in one leg”  in Jan.2012 🙂

5. Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, 2008
6.  Doris Lessing, 2007
7.  Orhan Pamuk, 2006.  Read “My Name is Red’ in 2012 🙂
8. Harold Pinter, 2005
9. Elfriede Jelinek, 2004
10. John M. Coetzee, 2003
11. Imre Kertész, 2002
12.  Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, 2001
13. Gao Xingjian, 2000
14.  Günter Grass, 1999
15. José Saramago, 1998
16.  Dario Fo, 1997
17.  Wislawa Szymborska, 1996
18.  Seamus Heaney, 1995
19. Kenzaburo Oe, 1994
20. Toni Morrison, 1993
21. Derek Walcott, 1992
22. Nadine Gordimer, 1991
23. Octavio Paz, 1990
24. Camilo José Cela, 1989
25. Naguib Mahfouz, 1988
26. Joseph Brodsky, 1987
27. Wole Soyinka, 1986
28. Claude Simon, 1985
29.  Jaroslav Seifert, 1984
30.  William Golding, 1983
31.  Gabriel García Márquez.  Read  in 2004 🙂
32.  Elias Canetti, 1981
33.  Czeslaw Milosz, 1980
34.  Odysseus Elytis, 1979
35. Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1978
36.  Vicente Aleixandre, 1977
37.  Saul Bellow, 1976
38. Eugenio Montale, 1975
39.  Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson, 1974
40.  Patrick White, 1973
41. Heinrich Böll, 1972
42. Pablo Neruda, 1971
43. Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, 1970
44.  Samuel Beckett, 1969
45. Yasunari Kawabata, 1968
46.  Miguel Angel Asturias, 1967
47.  Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Nelly Sachs, 1966
48.  Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, 1965
49.  Jean-Paul Sartre, 1964
50.  Giorgos Seferis, 1963
51.  John Steinbeck, 1962
52.  Ivo Andric, 1961
53.  Saint-John Perse, 1960
54.  Salvatore Quasimodo, 1959
55.  Boris Leonidovich Pasternak, 1958
56. Albert Camus, 1957 Read “The Plague’ in 1993 🙂
57.  Juan Ramón Jiménez, 1956
58.  Halldór Kiljan Laxness, 1955
59.  Ernest Miller Hemingway, 1954
60.  Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, 1953
61.  François Mauriac, 1952
62.  Pär Fabian Lagerkvist, 1951
63.  Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell, 1950
64.  William Faulkner, 1949
65.  Thomas Stearns Eliot, 1948
66.  André Paul Guillaume Gide, 1947
67.  Hermann Hesse, 1946
68.  Gabriela Mistral, 1945
69.  Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, 1944
70.  Frans Eemil Sillanpää, 1939
71. Pearl Buck, 1938
72.  Roger Martin du Gard, 1937
73.  Eugene Gladstone O’Neill, 1936
74.  Luigi Pirandello, 1934
75.  Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin, 1933
76.  John Galsworthy, 1932
77.  Erik Axel Karlfeldt, 1931
78. Sinclair Lewis, 1930
79.  Thomas Mann, 1929
80.  Sigrid Undset, 1928
81.  Henri Bergson, 1927
82. Grazia Deledda, 1926
83.  George Bernard Shaw, 1925
84.  Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont, 1924
85.  William Butler Yeats, 1923
86.  Jacinto Benavente, 1922
87.  Anatole France, 1921
88.  Knut Pedersen Hamsun, 1920
89.  Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler, 1919
90.  Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan, 1917
91.  Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam, 1916
92.  Romain Rolland, 1915
93.  Rabindranath Tagore, 1913
94.  Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann, 1912
95.  Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck, 1911
96.  Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse, 1910
97.  Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf, 1909
98.  Rudolf Christoph Eucken, 1908
99.  Rudyard Kipling, 1907. Read the “Jungle Book” in 2012 🙂
100.  Giosuè Carducci, 1906
101.  Henryk Sienkiewicz, 1905. Read “Quo Vadis: a narrative of time of Nero” in 1996 🙂
102.  Frédéric Mistral, José Echegaray y Eizaguirre, 1904
103.  Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson, 1903
104.  Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen, 1902
105.  Sully Prudhomme, 1901