I normally shy away from summer reading round-ups, but this one…was kind of fun to put together. It came from realising that there were so many decent books on my desk that I was reading them too fast to write about them, which is a goooood feeling if you’re a hack reviewer.
Here’s the link and two brief excerpts:
The Shadow of the Wind: Carlos Ruiz Zafon (W&N) A long-forgotten book by a long-forgotten author is rediscovered by a young boy growing into manhood in Barcelona; but someone wants the author’s name, reputation and books to disappear into oblivion. Zafon came up with a brilliant idea in the form of the “cemetery of forgotten books”, a place where every book has at least a chance of discovering a reader. As to the rest, he introduces skullduggery, romance, and twists in the tale every few pages to form a baroque, bizarre romance. The author is a screenwriter based in Los Angeles, and drew some complaints from residents of Barcelona who griped that it’s always raining or cold in the city as depicted in his book. Still, a great read, especially for bibliophiles.
The Alchemy of Desire: Tarun Tejpal (HarperCollins) Rarely has a simple blurb caused so much heartburning in Delhi’s literary circles. But then this one — “At last —a new and brilliantly original novel from India”— was handed out by V S Naipaul, known to bury debut authors rather than praise them. Tejpal accompanied him to Stockholm when the Great Curmudgeon won his Nobel, though, and the friendship between them is of long standing. The book’s about a young couple’s odyssey into desire and marriage, with the point of fading lust marked by the narrator’s growing obsession with a ghost from the past, in a very literal sense. I normally resist coupling book titles, but not very hard. Think Love Story meets Plain Tales from the Hills.