My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki

My Year of Meats I really enjoyed ‘A Tale for the Time Being‘ by Ruth Ozeki which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year. I was lucky enough to get my copy of her debut novel ‘My Year of Meats’ (or ‘My Year of Meat’ in some older editions) signed at the shortlist readings event at the Southbank Centre in October and this week, I finally got around to reading it. Originally published in 1998, it tells the story of Jane Takagi-Little, a Japanese-American journalist and documentary film-maker who is producing a series called ‘My American Wife’ for Japanese television. Sponsored by BEEF-EX to promote American beef in Japan, the aim of the programme is to promote a “wholesome” image of America. However, as Jane travels across the United States searching for suitable families to participate in the series, she becomes more alarmed by the methods of meat production and plans to expose them in the programme. Meanwhile, the story also follows Akiko, a Japanese housewife married to Jane’s abusive boss, and eventually their lives converge. Continue reading

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The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2014

This year’s Man Booker Prize longlist was announced today. The thirteen titles are:

Joshua Ferris – To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Richard Flanagan – The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Karen Joy Fowler – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Siri Hustvedt – The Blazing World
Howard Jacobson – J
Paul Kingsnorth – The Wake
David Mitchell – The Bone Clocks
Neel Mukherjee – The Lives of Others
David Nicholls – Us
Joseph O’Neill – The Dog
Richard Powers – Orfeo
Ali Smith – How To Be Both
Niall Williams – History of the Rain

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The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm‘The Silkworm’ is the second novel by Robert Galbraith featuring ex-military policeman turned private detective Cormoran Strike. In his latest case, Strike is hired by the wife of Owen Quine, a little-known author who has gone off by himself for a few days and is expected to return home once he has been found. However, Quine had recently completed a new novel entitled ‘Bombyx Mori’ featuring grotesque pen-portraits thinly disguised as various people he knows. The unpublished manuscript has already been circulating the literary world and having made a considerable number of enemies, Quine is later discovered brutally murdered. Continue reading

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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and MargaritaWhen you have a reading list as long as mine and you don’t know what to choose next, sometimes it’s just easier to just start at the top. A book which had been lingering for a long time on my list was ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov, a fantastical satire about Soviet Russia widely considered to be one of the masterpieces of 20th century literature. Although difficult to summarise a plot as such, ‘The Master and Margarita’ is essentially a story about the devil in the form of Woland the magician who visits Moscow and wreaks havoc with his accomplices including Behemoth, a cigar-smoking vodka-drinking cat. Embedded in the story is another novel written by the unnamed Master who has been incarcerated for writing a book about the crucifixion of Yeshua Ha-Nozri (or Jesus Christ) while his former lover, Margarita, seeks help from Woland to be reunited with him. Continue reading

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Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hard Choices‘Hard Choices’ is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s account of the challenges she faced as America’s 67th Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013 during Barack Obama’s first term as President of the United States. Covering major world events including the global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East and the continuing global challenges of climate change and poverty, ‘Hard Choices’ charts Clinton’s first-hand experience of foreign affairs and outlines her approach to diplomacy based on “smart power” using a combination of “hard power” in the form of actions and “soft power” through discussions. Continue reading

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Film Review: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Hundred-Year-Old ManLast week, I was lucky enough to attend a special screening of the film adaptation of ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’ at the Soho Hotel in London ahead of its general release on Friday. Thanks to the likes of Steig Larsson and Henning Mankell, Sweden is generally more famous for producing atmospheric crime fiction. However, the comic novel by Jonas Jonasson has been a worldwide hit and has been translated into more than thirty languages with more than six million copies sold since 2009. The film is likely to match the book’s success across the globe this summer having already broken box office records in Sweden when it was released last December. Continue reading

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Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey tells the story of Maud Horsham, an elderly woman who is searching for her friend Elizabeth. However, Maud is suffering from dementia and she becomes increasingly muddled between the clues leading to Elizabeth’s whereabouts and those related to another unsolved mystery involving Maud’s sister Sukey who disappeared without trace nearly seventy years ago.   Continue reading

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