The Parcel: When a novel might be journalism

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Anosh Irani’s The Parcel follows Madhu, a transgender prostitute in Bombay’s red-light district, as she delivers on an assigned responsibility to prepare a captured girl, Kinjal, for induction into the sex trade. Woven onto this plot line is a thread documenting the history and culture of the hijra – those of the third sex – in Bombay, including the complex system of governance and authority in this community including what kinds of work are permitted, what kinds of allegiances are owed and how members of this community joined or are exiled. Layered, too, is an exploration of gentrification of this particular city (but cities more broadly) and the economic and social consequences for those displaced by this gentrification (a particularly compelling thread for me as I’m writing from a city that is currently grappling with how these displaced populations are represented both figuratively and literally in the sense of their political representation). Continue reading

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Filed under Canadian Literature, Fiction, Governor Generals, Prize Winner

Lincoln in the Bardo: This book may be terrible, but it’s hard to tell because its author is George Saunders.

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You’ll probably read Lincoln in the Bardo because everyone is talking about it and because George Saunders is some kind of savant  of literary genius who writes sentences that are so particular in their detail and yet so vast in their evocation of feeling that while reading you sort of stumble between the narrative itself and the awareness that you are reading the work of a master of language-to-mean. Not unlike my own opening run-on-sentence, right? Right. Continue reading

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Filed under Fiction, American literature, Bestseller, Book Club

One Good Turn: Why Does My Cat Lick Off All Her Leg Fur, And Other Pressing Mysteries

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Without knowing it I stumbled into a mystery series. Typical Sunday library book browsing: I was looking for Kate Atkinson’s God in Ruins for book club (and to follow-up on my enjoyment of Life After Life) and it wasn’t where it should be on the shelf. Instead I found One Good Turn with the handy (thanks, library staff) “mystery” sticker on the spine. And I thought, yeah, okay, I’m in for a mystery.  Continue reading

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Filed under British literature, Fiction, Mystery

Anxiety Addendum

Me again. I meant to be evasive with major life events and anxiety, because I meant to be inclusive in thinking about how we all might read (or not!) while anxious. I didn’t mean to cause alarm among my readers/friends! So: rest assured! I’m fine. My partner and I decided to move and so the last few months have been the upheaval of selling a house, finding a new one, etc. Add my personal predisposition for anxious reactions and you get the no-sleep, no-focus. Sorry for being purposefully evasive; I’ll strive in future to do a better balance of telling you what you may want to know with getting around to actual book reviewing. Now let’s all rest easy. xo

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Filed under Fiction