A Fine Balance — Rohinton Mistry

Song of the Day: ‘Ma jeunesse fout le camp’ by Françoise Hardy

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Some time last autumn, we were walking around uptown Whittier (one of those little towns sprawled across Southern California, one drives by but hardly ever visits) and happened upon a second-hand bookstore. It was such a cute little shop, the books on the shelves haphazardly arranged into some form of an ordering semblance. I found the entire place quite charming. Anyhow, browsing about and wondering what to get — it’s almost second nature, I walk into a bookstore and I have to buy a book — one of my friends suggested A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. ‘You’ll love it A.!,’ he said. ‘It’s a wonderfully written human story.’ I wanted to ask if other books weren’t human stories but decided that it was best to not start that debate.

Months later, looking for a new read, I found the book under a pile of other yet-to-be-read books. And in hindsight, I’m glad that I made that choice. I must admit, though, that the density of the book combined with Mistry’s style of writing meant that I took my sweet time reading this book. There was just so much to take in.

Continue reading “A Fine Balance — Rohinton Mistry”

Five Fascinating Facts about George Orwell’s 1984

1984 by George Orwell has always been one of my favourite books. A wonderful post full of little gems by “Interesting Literature”. Quite an enjoyable read.

Interesting Literature

1. George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on this day, 8 June, in 1949. But this wasn’t the original title of the novel. According to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, Orwell initially planned to set the novel in 1980; this then became 1982, and finally 1984 (or Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the title is usually rendered).

Orwell12. Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room in BBC Broadcasting House. In this room, during the Second World War, he had to sit through tedious meetings when he worked for the Ministry of Information. Indeed, the Ministry also served as the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth, where the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, works. ‘Room 101’ has, of course, entered wider linguistic use as a term for something containing one’s pet hates or worst fears. Although the novel also popularised the terms ‘thoughtcrime’ and ‘thought police’, these…

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Sometimes … Literature ≥ Philosophy

Song of the Day: ‘Down on you’ by Dems

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There are parallels to be found in so many fields, and literature and philosophy are not any different. There is a dialogue between literary and philosophical studies. That is, there is always a constant source of fresh, stimulating ideas in the aesthetics of literature, theory of criticism, philosophical interpretation of literature, and the literary treatment of philosophy. Great literature is often deeply philosophical, and great philosophy is often great literature, sometimes in the form of fictional narrative. Perhaps we can learn many of the same lessons from philosophy and literature. Continue reading “Sometimes … Literature ≥ Philosophy”

L’Africain – Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

Song of the Day: ‘Je pense a toi’ by Amadou et Mariam

This past weekend I did a lot of cleaning. Whenever I feel restless, I clean. This type of cleaning is always good for me because I go through practically everything. I now have a couple of boxes of stuff to donate. Anywho, none of this matters as per this post. What’s more relevant is that I found under a pile of books that I had meant to sort months ago,  my copy of L’Africain by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. This is a book I read way back in 2008, and I could remember bits and pieces here and there. Anywho, I re-read it (it’s a very short book) and I fell in love with it again. As I started penning my thoughts on it, I remembered that I had actually written a review of it on my regular blog back in December of 2008. Why re-write another? Without further ado here are my thoughts then (of which hardly much has changed): Continue reading “L’Africain – Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio”

Crime and Punishment — Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Song of the Day: ‘Heart’s A Mess’ by Gotye

We arcrimee back to the book reviews. It has certainly been a long time since I last wrote one despite how long my list of books has grown. Let’s not even bring up the movie list. One day at a time. Today’s topic of discussion is Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s landmark novel, Crime and Punishment. And what an undertaking!

The first time I ever heard of Dostoyevsky was whilst in Pakistan as a teenager. One of my hostels mates gave me Crime and Punishment, which she had borrowed from her brother. I found the names confusing (it was my first exposure to Russian names), especially with the constant switch between diminutives and patronymics so it was hard to keep track of what was going on. Continue reading “Crime and Punishment — Fyodor Dostoyevsky”