Sunday, October 29, 2017

THE OTHER LANGUAGE by Francesca Marciano


















Pantheon
Available at your bookstore

Synopsis

The characters in the compelling stories novelist and screenwriter Francesca Marciano collects in The Other Language are displaced—both geographically and in matters of the heart. Mostly women, but a few men as well, they are educated, well-heeled and discontent, adrift in an ever-contracting world that has clouded the notion of home.
The title story—one of the finest—begins with an enticing Alice Munro-like premise: A 12-year-old Italian girl and her family vacation in a small Greek village in the wake of her mother’s mystery-shrouded death. There she substitutes one English brother for another as her object of affection, carrying the complicated memory through the years until adult truths clarify the meaning of the events. Another richly layered story, “The Presence of Men,” is built on a clash of cultures as a Roman woman, scarred by divorce, seeks refuge in a village in a remote corner of Italy. The inroads she makes into local acceptance are jarred when her Hollywood agent brother and his movie star client show up and upset the delicate balance. In “An Indian Soirée,” reminiscent of the atmospheric, incisive stories of the late Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, a couple has come to the subcontinent for an extended sojourn, and in one the space of one morning their marriage falls apart.
A number of stories are set in Africa, where Marciano has lived. “The Club,” with the indomitable Mrs. D’Costa at its center, quietly explores class and race in post-colonial Kenya. “Big Island, Small Island” reunites two lost souls who realize it is impossible, indeed useless, to try to recreate the past. And “Quantum Theory,” set in Africa and New York, offers a bittersweet meditation on the significant difference between falling in love and being in love.
Many of these nine well-crafted and entertaining stories are built on chance encounters, and in Marciano’s assured hands the reader accepts the intervention of fate without question. These are stories about finding love in a fragile world, but even more, about all of the connections—past and present—that shape us and anchor us in place.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

SONG OF A CAPTIVE BIRD by Jasmin Darznik

















5.5 ++
Ballantine Books

Historical Fiction, Multicultural Interest
Pub date February 13, 2018

Synopsis



All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh is told that Iranian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel—gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over café glacé. It’s during the summer of 1950 that Forugh’s passion for poetry really takes flight—and that tradition seeks to clip her wings. 
Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh’s poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules—at enormous cost. But the power of her writing grows only stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.
Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—Jasmin Darznik has written a haunting novel, using the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.

My view

I'd like to thank Jasmin Darznik for her honest description of an Iran we do not often hear about, the Shah's modern Iran. It's restrictions, brutality.
Forough Farrokhsad grew up in the Shah's Iran. One can only imagine the courage it took Forough to follow her calling, writing poems, poems that read like a story. Her courage to express herself as a woman, feelings we women experience along our lives.
To understand her determination not to be silenced, one has to understand "modern" Iran. Women were expected to stay at home, silent. To express an opinion was not tolerated, and punished.
This is a book which needs to be read widely, by women and men.
Even today many of my Iranian friends deny the Shah's regime's brutality, yet thousands left Iran. This speaks volumes on the Shah's regime.
Forough pushed herself through all the barriers never holding back her truth...she passed away at 32 killed in a car accident.

I will add pictures, poems by Farough an book titles to her poems which are sold today around the world when this book is published.
This beautiful book will be sold at book stores February 13, 2018

P.S.
Although the Shah's regime was brutal, the revolution against the Shah in 1979 ushered in an even harsher regime run by Islam.



Sunday, October 8, 2017

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng
















5.5
Penguin Press
Pub date 2014


Synopsis

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.