I love a good opening sentence; a sentence which surprises, intrigues and with just a few words draws the reader into the story. Eka Kurniawan’s novel, Man Tiger, opens with such a sentence: “On the evening Margio killed Anwar Sadat, Kyai Jahro was blissfully busy with his fishpond.” Enough to reel me into this tale of love, revenge and hate; a story of past injustices and present inequalities, a crime novel investigating not who-did it but why.
Although barely longer than 170 pages, Kurniawan’s novel is epic in scale, both in its emotional ambition and its attempt to present a panoramic view of Indonesian provincial society encapsulated in the nameless seaside town in which the story plays out with the precision of a Greek tragedy. Continue reading “A Beastly Tale – “Man Tiger” by Eka Kurniawan”
An excellent essay by Elisabeth Hyde Stephens courtesy of Longreads about the relationship of money and creativity using the financial ups and downs of legendary Argentinian writer Jose Louis Borges as an example.
Borges and $: The Parable of the Literary Master and the Coin
In the 1960s, the Café Condé is home to a group of literary bohemians who congregate there every day under the benevolent eyes of its proprietor Madame Chably. It’s a predominantly male world with only one woman in that circle of Condé regulars, the mysterious, beautiful Louki, who appears one day and is integrated into the group, seemingly just by virtue of being there.
The narrative reveals Louki’s background through the stories of multiple narrators, including Louki herself, seamlessly transitioning from one voice to the next. Like many Modiano novels it is a detective story of sorts, both literally –one of the narrators actually is a detective tasked by Louki’s husband to find her – and figuratively. Continue reading “Remembrance of Things Past: In the Café of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano”
It is the summer of 1978: General Franco, the military dictator who ruled Spain with an iron fist since the end of the Spanish Civil War, is dead. The economy is in tatters and a new, democratic Spain is in the making. It is a time in which the old rules crumble and the new are not yet established. And in this summer, the novel’s main protagonist, Gafitas, joins a gang of young delinquents from the wrong side of the tracks who are led by the charismatic Zarco. Continue reading ““Outlaws” by Javier Cercas”