Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets | Book Review

Lucky Breaks by Ukrainian writer and photojournalist, Yevgenia Belorusets in translation of Eugene Ostashevsky is a collection of vignettes accompanied by a series of black and white photos taken by the author herself and placed carefully within the text. Even though these photographs do not illustrate any of the events described in the book, they […]

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Lean on Me by Serge Joncour | Book Review

Lean on Me by the French novelist, Serge Joncour explores human connections, emotional struggles, and intimacy between two mature, seemingly different people, Ludovic and Aurore, who find unlikely love amid the urban landscape of the Parisian metropolis. This is a tale of uneasy relationship between two souls entering each other’s lives carrying the weight of their previous as well as current life experiences and obligations.

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Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov | Book Review

Grey Bees by the great Ukrainian writer, Andrey Kurkov has become one of my all-time favourite books and its protagonist, one of the most beautiful solitary characters I have encountered in literature, Sergey Sergeyich is someone I would love to set off on a journey with across free, independent Ukraine one day. I cannot express […]

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Reputation by Sarah Vaughan | Book Review

Reputation is a compelling crime novel providing a nuanced social and cultural commentary on a modern society. This book explores many social issues prevalent in the British society including an often toxic relationship between politicians and press, the role of social media in our daily life and the extent to which our mental as well as physical well – being can be affected by online threats, bullying, and abuse; the position of women in a modern society, especially when they step out of so-called social and cultural expectations asserting their freedom of choice; the objectification of women in many spheres of public life including politics; the impact of how we look on the perception others have of us leading to deeper questions on social values and norms; the relation between the roles we take on in our lives and its impact on the lives of our loved ones, especially those dependent on us, in particular our children.

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Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov and Ukrainian Literature

I have read a few books by the great Ukrainian writer, Andrey Kurkov in the past. Each of them deserves a wider audience especially these days. His books are an emphatic reflection of the Ukrainian soul. Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov is an original book which is worth reading to get a glimpse […]

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Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan | Book Review

For those who can read these days and want to escape into a world of written words for a few moments, I would like to recommend you Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan set in Venice of the nostalgic 1960s, before and after the 1966 Venice flood. It is an atmospheric, gothic, slow-paced, character […]

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Red is My Heart by Antoine Laurain and Le Sonneur | Book Review

“I feel as if I am looking at the world through a keyhole and what I see scares me.” Many people in Eastern Europe go currently through grief, an extreme level of anxiety, shock, pain, a feeling of loss. For many Eastern Europeans, generational traumas have resurfaced. For those who are able to read, maybe […]

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Brotherhood by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr | Book Review

A few thoughts about about one of my favourite books I have read recently, Brotherhood (Terre Ceinte) by the Senegalese writer, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, a winner of the French prestigious 2021 Prix Goncourt for La plus secrete memoire des hommes  (Men’s Most Secret Memories). Written with maturity and unmatched sensitivity and empathy, Brotherhood explores many […]

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Martita, I Remember You by Sandra Cisneros | Book Review

“People look at me and they just see a woman who works in an office. It’s as if your body isn’t an anchor or an iron bell anymore. That’s all. Just someone who answers the phone. Nobody asks me, what’s that you’re reading? Eduardo Galeano’s The Book Of Embraces? Gwendolyn Brooks’s Maud Martha? Elena Poniatowska’s […]

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The Sundays of Jean Dezert by Jean de La Ville de Mirmont | Book Review

Jean de La Ville de Mirmont (1886 – 1914)  was killed at the age of 27 during the World War I. He was an author of a collection of poetry, short stories and a 1914 self-published novella, The Sundays of Jean Dezert. Mirmont was a close friend of another French writer and the 1952 Nobel […]

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Blue Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu | Book Review

Blue Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu is a compelling, thoughtful coming of age story exploring identity, belief systems, perception of the Other, sexuality, family relationships spanning across two continents, different cultures and traditions. Storytelling is beautiful, extremely moving and emphatic. The protagonist of the book is a boy with blue skin called Kalki who is […]

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Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym | Book Review

Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym published in 1977 (and nominated for the Booker Prize) is a poignant exploration of loneliness. This is a story of four single people in their 60s: Marcia, Letty, Edwin and Norman who have worked together for several years in an office in Central London doing unspecified clerical work. They […]

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The Wheel by Jennifer Lane | Book Review

“In the world we live in, we have been taught from a young age that traditionally masculine traits are what will make us succeed; intelligence is measured logically through tick-box tests, the loudest voice in the room tends to win the debate and we are told to be cruel to fight our way to the […]

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No Touching by Ketty Rouf | Book Review

“Today , I don’t exist. Tomorrow, I probably won’t, either. (…)Today is the first day of school.” “Exhausted. (…) Do your job. Hang on. (…) It is a truly wretched existence, one that drove me to seek stimulation by reading the great philosophers. Where the hell did I get the ludicrous idea of finding happiness […]

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Invisible Ink by Patrick Modiano | Book Review

“It comforted me to think that even if you sometimes have memory gaps, all the details of your life are written somewhere in invisible ink.” “I did not want to quantify my life. I let it flow by, like mad money that slips through your fingers. I wasn’t careful. When I thought about the future, […]

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The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak | Book Review

‘Where do you start someone’s story when every life has more than one thread and what we call birth is not the only beginning, nor is death exactly an end?’ ‘People on both sides of the island [Cyprus] suffered – and people on both sides would hate it if you said that aloud. Why? Because […]

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The German Room by Carla Maliandi | Book Review

“No matter where I go, I’m still broken. And now I’m thousands of miles from home, in a place where I barely speak the language and I have no idea what to do.”  “Even if I crossed the whole world looking for a place to feel at home, I wouldn’t belong anywhere.”  The German Room […]

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The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun | Book Review

“Not all disasters catch your eye. The ones that become real issues are distinct. (…) The disaster has to be on a certain scale for busy people to take the time to sympathise or pay attention. (…) The empathy can fade too. (…) If you compared several disasters that had occurred at similar times and […]

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Fresh Water For Flowers by Valerie Perrin | Book Review

Fresh Water for Flowers is the most extraordinary, moving tribute to the resilience of human spirit. I must admit that I don’t remember when last time I was so deeply touched by a story. This book hugs YOU, offers comfort and numerous moments of tenderness, as well as it evokes the spirit of profound emotions […]

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The Last Summer of Reason by Tahar Djaout | Book Review

“Books — the closeness of them, their contact, their smell, and their contents — constitute the safest refuge against this world of horror. They are the most pleasant and the most subtle means of traveling to a more compassionate planet.” Tahrar Djaout (1954 – 1993) was one of the most talented Algerian writers of the […]

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North Korea Like Nowhere Else by Lindsey Miller | Book Review

North Korea Like Nowhere Else is a photographic exploration of the life in North Korea from the unique perspective of the Westerner living in the capital city of Pyongyang between 2017 and 2019. Through a series of evocative as well as informative stories, anecdotes and captivating photos accompanied by the author’s very sensitive, insightful and […]

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Internat [The Orphanage] by Serhiy Zhadan | Book Review

Internat also published in English under the title ‘The Orphanage’ by the Ukrainian writer Serhiy Viktorovych Zhadan (Serhij Zadan) is my favourite book I have read so far this year and definitely one of the best books I have ever read. Yale University Press published an English translation of this magnificent novel in April 2021 […]

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A Bookshop in Algiers by Kaouther Adimi | Book Review

A Bookshop in Algiers by the Algerian writer Kaouther Adimi is a literary feast. This book might be small in size, just under 150 pages, but it is dense with captivating literally anecdotes related to both Algerian and French titans of literature as well as with many unique perspectives on the history and culture of […]

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A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar | Book Review

“I found something in Siena, for which I am yet to have a description, but for which I have been searching, and it came (…) at that strange meeting point of two contradictory events – the bright achievement of having finished a book and the dark maturation of the likelihood, inescapable now, that I will […]

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Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman | Book Review

If you are not familiar with a wonderful Dutch historian, Rutger Bregman, I would highly recommend you to watch his 2017 TED Presentation: ‘Poverty Isn’t a Lack of Character, It’ s a Lack of Cash.’ Also, I would encourage you to watch his now viral talk at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos where […]

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Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri | Book Review

Whereabouts was originally written in Italian by the Bengali-American writer, Jhumpa Lahiri who also translated the book herself.   “Solitude: it’s become my trade. (…) It’s a condition I try to perfect”.   Written in forty-six short vignettes, Whereabouts portrays daily wanderings and inner workings of the narrator’s mind who is a solitary unnamed woman […]

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Anna Langfus | Introduction

I would like to share with you a lit bit about one of my favourite writers who is almost unknown these days to the anglophone audience. I hope that some of my French followers might have read some of the books by this remarkable author of a profound sensitivity.   Her name was Anna Langfus (1920 […]

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Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley | Book Review

Hot Stew is the second novel by Fiona Mozley whose debut novel, Elmet was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Hot Stew is a wonderful ode to London’s Soho providing a sharp social analysis of life in a modern metropolis. The book tackles the issues of gentrification, social class, stigmatisation, poverty, privilege, London’s housing […]

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The Photographer at Sixteen by George Szirtes | Book Review

“Displacement hits you later than you expect, just when you think you have settled down and become part of the world all over again. That is when it begins to ache, when a certain inarticulable desolation creeps in. Your body is not where your body ought to be (…). It is as if you had […]

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El Excluido [‘The Excluded’] by David San Jose Martinez | Book Review

El Excluido’ [‘The Excluded’] by the great Spanish writer, David San Jose Martinez. This book is a wonderful literary achievement, beautifully written with a very rich language, a veil of nostalgia and profound emotional sensitivity. It is a novel but its form – the collection of vignettes, somewhat separated, somewhat connected, is very innovative. El […]

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In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri | Book Review

“Why do I write? To investigate the mystery of existence. (…) To get closer to everything that is outside of me. (…)Writing is my only way of absorbing (…) life.”  In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri   constitutes an astonishingly beautiful discourse exploring the subjects of identity, the meaning of exile, belonging, cultural displacement, alienation, […]

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Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga | Book Review

“Nothing in Rwanda was left in me but a wound that could never be healed.”  “Humiliated, afraid, waiting day after day for what was to come, what we didn’t have a word for: genocide. And I alone preserve the memory of it. And that’s why I am writing this.”   “Where are they? Somewhere deep in […]

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The Melancholic Soul of Fernando Pessoa | Reflections

“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.” A few thoughts from “The Book of Disquiet” by Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935), a Portuguese writer who is the dearest to my heart. Fernando was a Portuguese poet, considered one of the most significant literary figures of the early 20th century, and one of the […]

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Medallions by Zofia Nalkowska | Book Review

Medallions by a Polish novelist and essayist, Zofia Nalkowska (1884 – 1954)  Medallions is considered the masterpiece in the world Holocaust literature, deeply influences by Nalkowska’s experience as a member of the Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes which was established in 1945. During that time, she visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka and many […]

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | Book Review

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.” “Time only blunts the pain of loss. It doesn’t erase it.” “I […]

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The Readers’ Room by Antoine Laurain | Book Review

“Marcel Proust, Iike all writers of genius, had succeeded – and he more than any other – in this transmutation which is the very essence of literature: a spirit and soul embodied in a rectangle of bound paper, living on after them.” “The Readers’ Room” by Antoine Laurain This little mystery book serves as a […]

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The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri | Book Review

“𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒘𝒆 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒔𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒖𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔, 𝒔𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒆 𝒅𝒐 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒂𝒓𝒌𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔.” The Beekeeper of Aleppo is beautifully written, but it should be mainly read for its subject matter. Christy Lefteri portrays the journey of Syrian refugees in a realistic, emphatic, and respectful manner. The Beekeeper of Aleppo tells a story […]

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Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland | Book Review

My stress levels have been skyrocketing over the last weeks and months due to the current situation related to pandemic. For that reason I have been in need of reading something heartwarming, soul-healing, soul-soothing and gentle. And, this little gem of a book, Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland brought me solace, so needed moments […]

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The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel | Book Review

“At night, here in the library, the ghosts have voices. (…) But at night, when the library lamps are lit, the outside world disappears and nothing but the space of books remains in existence. ” – The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel is one of the greatest […]

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid | Book Review

This book offers beautiful writing and delights with a very sharp approach to the question of identity, “cultural power”, cultural clash between the West and the East in a context of the dominance of one powerful country such as the United States (US) prior and after the attacks on the World Trade Centre on 11 […]

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Anita Brookner | Introduction

Let me introduce you to one of my favourite writers, Anita Brookner (1928 – 2016)  Anita Brookner was an English novelist and art historian, born into the Polish – Jewish family in North London. She was appointed as Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge in 1967 and was the first woman […]

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London | An Autumn Visit to West Highgate Cemetery

 I hope you are all well and enjoy the autumn if you are based in the Northern hemisphere. A few weeks ago I went to visit West Highgate Cemetery in North London to roam the leafy, ancient avenues of this Victorian cemetery. The cemetery opened in 1839 and there are many well-preserved graves dated back […]

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The Distance by Ivan Vladislavić | Book Review

The Distance by a wonderful South African novelist, Ivan Vladislavic is a magnificent and stunning literary achievement. This is a remarkable, thoughtful read and a real feast for all the bibliophiles. This book is both, global and local; universal and South African – Praetorian; ordinary and surreal; alien and familiar. The ‘distance’ in the book is […]

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Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali | Book Review

‘When we walked side by side, did I not feel his humanity most profoundly? Only now did I begin to understand why it was not always through words that people sought each other out and came to understand each other.’ I was profoundly moved by this gem of a book. In ‘Madonna in a Fur […]

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6 Compelling Autumn Reads

A Start in Life by Anita Brookner (‪1928 – 2016‬) “Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature” is one of the boldest opening sentences I have ever read. The main protagonist, Ruth, turns to books for comfort while navigating through many ambiguities in her daily life such as taking […]

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Amour | How the French Talk about Love by Stefania Rousselle | Book Review

“I am single today, and I have been struggling with my thoughts. And after so many years, I want to know what it is just to be two. United. One. I’ve never had that experience. People say they ‘fall’ in love. That word is so negative. I want to ‘rise’ into love. That’s exactly what […]

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Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon | Book Review

‘Returning to Reims’ by Didier Eribon moved me profoundly. This book is about suffering, pain and shame related to one’s social background. Through showing his personal story of social exclusion, cutting ties with his working class origins, Eribon explores a number of important themes including the history of France over the last 100 years, how […]

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This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun | Book Review

“For a long time I searched for the black stone that cleanses the soul of death. When I say a long time, I think of a bottomless pit, a tunnel dug with my fingers, my teeth, in the stubborn hope of glimpsing, if only for a minute, one infinitely lingering minute, a ray of light, […]

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Distant View of A Minaret by Alifa Rifaat | Book Review

“Distant View of A Minaret” by Alifa Rifaat (1930 – 1996) is a collection of fifteen short stories depicting lives of women within a traditional Muslim society.Rifaat shows Muslim women who wish to adhere to strict religious teachings and they see men as the ones who do not follow their religious obligations towards women. She […]

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The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano | Book Review

“Many years later I tried to find that hotel I hadn’t recorded its name or address in the black notebook, the way we tend not to write down the most intimate details of our lives, for fear that, once fixed on paper, they’ll no longer be ours”. I read Patrick Modiano‘s books whenever I feel […]

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84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff | Book Review

This a little uplifting book recommendation from my side for anyone in need of magical and cosy stories. “84 Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff provides one of these pleasant reading experiences. It is a true story written by real life events; this tale is both life-affirming and sad but still a real treat for […]

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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid | Book Review

“(…) but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind”.  “(..) to love is to enter into the inevitability of one day being able to protect what is most valuable to you”. “We are all migrants through time”.   “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid […]

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A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros | Book Review

“I feel fortunate at least to open books and be invited to step in, if that book shelters me and keeps me warm, I know I’ve come home”. “I’m fascinated with how those of us who live in multiple cultures and the regions in between are held under the spell of words spoken in the […]

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French Lessons by Alice Kaplan | Book Review

 “I have been willing to overlook in French culture what I would not accept in my own for the privilege of living in translation”. French Lessons by Alice Kaplan is an interesting book. The author elaborates on such themes as living life through an acquired language and its impact on one’s course of life; the […]

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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov | Book Review

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is one of my favourite books I have ever read. This book holds a special place in my heart as it depicts beautifully with all the necessary nuances the most important characteristics related to Russia and Eastern Europe during the course of the tragic 20th century. Having an […]

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Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano | Book Review

‘Honeymoon’ by Patrick Modiano is an evocative, melancholic tale, and, at times, it resembles a frame from “film noir” of the 1950s. Modiano presents the lives of the protagonists from the point of an observer, never depicting the reality in a straightforward manner, but rather showing different angles, playing with the memory, the passage of […]

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Melmoth by Sarah Perry | Book Review

Melmoth by Sarah Perry is a tale of moral complexity related to the human condition. Perry’s book draws upon Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin written in 1820 which once was a well-read book with a greater significance. Perry retells the legend of Melmoth, the loneliest being in this world who wanders across the […]

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An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine | Book Review

“I would be reading at my desk, something she deemed part and parcel of my job, and considerate as she was, she kept me company but left me undisturbed. We were two solitudes benefiting from a grace that was continuously reinvigorated in each other’s presence, two solitudes who nourished each other.” “I identify with outsiders, […]

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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak | Book Review

“The possibility of an immediate and wholesale decimation of civilization was not half as frightening as the simple realization that our individual passing had no impact on the order of things, and life would go on just the same with or without us.” “We must do what we can to mend our lives, we owe […]

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Reunion by Fred Uhlman | Book Review

Reunion by Fred Uhlman is such a little book, and depending on the edition, over ninety pages long. It is a story about friendship between two young boys, Konrad and Hans, growing up in Germany of the 1930, where a political landscape was changing drastically. Hans was born into an assimilated Jewish family.

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Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier | Book Review

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Mercier, P., Night Train to Lisbon, London: Atlantic Books, 2009

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No Place to Lay One’s Head by Françoise Frenkel | Book Review

“It is the duty of those who have survived to bear witness to ensure the dead are not forgotten, nor humble acts of self-sacrifice left unacknowledged.  (…) I dedicate this book to the MEN AND WOMEN OF GOODWILL who, generously, with unfailing courage, opposed the will to violence and resisted to the end.” Françoise Frenkel, […]

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The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak | Book Review

“The path of fiction could easily misled you into the cosmos of stories where everything was fluid, quixotic, and as open to surprises as a moonless night in the desert” Shafak, E., The Bastard of Istanbul, Penguin Random House UK, 2015, pp. 96 – 97

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