Svera Jang

A friend let me borrow the book Svera Jang written by Seema Gill. It seemed very promissing, written by a woman originally from India who later lived in Denmark, various countries in Africa and eventually in England. It also promised to be very personal.

I love reading. It’s one of my favourite things to do and a good excuse while commuting or waiting, to hold your book as a barrier against people around you. But I also know that when I start being reluctant to read, I don’t really like the book I’m lugging around with me. Svera Jang is unfortunately one of those books. It’s one where I wonder why I even decided to continue reading with so many books on my wish-list. I suddenly prefer my mp3 to keep me company on the tube rather than my book.

I really wanted to like this book. It’s well written and in a very unusual style, with poetry to complement the story. Gill must have lived an extraordinary life but the book only gives a glimps of it and as I near the end of the book, I’m still wondering what her life story is and I feel a little bit let down that I have grasped so few of the facts.

A writer as good as Gill, should be appreciated and I hope that I’m simply not her reader.

New Boy

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while might have noticed that I’m a fan of Tracy Chevalier. One of the things that I like about her books is that they are so well written but also very varied which always has an element of surprise.

The latest book, New Boy, is part of a project where different authors have written new stories from Shakespeare’s many plays. Chevalier chose Othello. Even if I love Shakespeare, Othello is not one of my favourites, but I have never seen it performed on stage.

Chevalier has moved the story to the 1970’s at a school yard. The main characters are in their pre-teens when they still move easily between children’s games and the new interest in the opposite sex. Into this homogenious suburban school with white kids who have grown up together, arrives Osei – the son of a Ghanian diplomate.

The book was so easy to read, I plowed through the first few chapters without thinking. When the plot then started to thicken I thought: “no, I really don’t like Othello”. The ending however is so strong that I’ve had to change my mind. I do like Tracy Chevalier’s Othello very much and I think I need to go and see a theatre production of the play. Perhaps I misjudged this story many years ago.

In any case, well done Tracy Chevalier for pulling off transporting the story to its new setting the way she has done. It works brilliantly.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter

I don’t remember who it was among my friends who recommended that I’d read Amy Tan but finding her book The Bonesetter’s Daugther at the library I decided to give it a go. The recommendation was most likely to read The Joy Luck Club, which must be her most wellknown book but I often like the hidden gems. It’s rare that the most famous book, or song, movie etcetera, turns out to be my personal favourite.

This book posed some confusion. The modern day setting, that takes up the greater part of the first half of the book, didn’t really draw me in. It was well written enough to keep reading but I didn’t care too much about the characters and their lives. But…

Then starts a travel back in time to China before the second world war and shortly beyond. This storyline was facinating, exotic and transported me to a time, a place and lives I wouldn’t come across in other ways than through books. I loved this part of the book.

Since I had such different experiences of the same book, I do wonder if the storyline set in China would have worked on it’s own without the modern day reference, or would I have felt that something was missing, perhaps that the story didn’t go full circle without the three generations that feature in the book.

The only thing I can conclude is that Amy Tan certainly is a good writer worth reading more of. Maybe I should try Joy Luck Club after all.

 

Amy Tan

Our Endless Numbered Days

It feels like it was a while since I picked up a fictional book that I really liked. I don’t even remember how I came across Claire Fuller but I started following her blog and that is how I found out about her debut book Our Endless Numbered Days. To my surprise I found a copy at my local library. Hurray for libraries!

It’s good to read a book by someone you know nothing about and where you know little about the story. You have no expectations and no preconseived notion of what the book is going to be like. From the start of this story though, you know that nothing is going to be what it appears to be.

The story is told through the perspective of Peggy, a 8-year old who lives in North London at the beginning of the story. Both her parents have their odd ways but everything has the appearance of being quite normal. However, by the time Peggy’s father leaves their home together with Peggy you know that this is not a normal family.

On the cover of the book it says: “Every parent lies. But some lies are bigger than others.” The consequences of the lies and the hidden truths in this story is impossible to preceive as you follow Peggy’s story. And I don’t think I have ever before in my life felt a need to re-read the last two chapters just to make sure I really understood it. Did it really end the way I first read it? It’s unusual that an author writes an ending that jars with you enough that you’re not sure you can trust what you just read.

There are so many interesting themes in this book as well, but just to name them feels like I would give away too much of the story. In the end, the only thing you can be sure of is that nothing is what you preceive it to be, even up to the last sentence of the book.

 

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Whispers in the Mists of Time

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I am continuing the trend of reviewing my friends’ artistic endeavours. This time, a poetry collection by Louisa Le Marchand. Louisa is one of the founders of Global Fusion Music and Arts as well as part of one of the writers groups I attend. I was therefore familiar with her writing even before I started reading Whispers in the Mists of Time. I love her short-stories – always with an unexpected twist at the very end – and you always wonder whether it is really fiction or if she’s writing from her own experience.

Whispers in the Mists of Time is a lovely collection of poems. Interestingly, the poems are arranged in alphabetical order. One would think that might create jarring themes and rhythms, but instead the book has a natural flow that makes it easy to read. What I especially like about the book is that it feels like a collection of one person’s life wisdom – one who has lived an extraordinary yet ordinary life. The book feels like a trusted friend whom I can turn to during my own life journey.

Many of the poems are existentialistic, dealing with themes of what it is to be human, to live life on your own terms and what we learn through the rougher parts of life. It also celebrates being alive, being part of this world and it has a few really witty, funny poems thrown inbetween.

 

Your Birthday

Your birthday is special,

Though others may not always remember, you should never

forget.

 A celebration of the day you were born,

The moment of your first breath,

Life may not have been easy, no one said that it would,

But you have lived in a world filled with wonder and morning

breaks every day.

———

The book is self-published and sold by Global Fusion Music and Arts. You can get in touch at globalfusionarts@yahoo.co.uk

 

50 shortcuts to a sugar free life – review

I’m afraid this review will be mostly relevant for anyone who can read Swedish. Apologies to the rest of you who read this blog, but there might still be a point or two for you to pick up.

A while ago, actually, I read Fredrik Paulún’s book 50 Genvägar till ett Sockerfritt Liv (translated: 50 shortcuts to a sugar free life). Paulún is a nutritionist who introduced the concept of GI – glycemic index – to Sweden. He is deemed an expert on the GI-diet and also has his own brand of granola, bread, juices etcetera.

I was given this book because I have for years struggled with illnesses relating to bloodsugar drops and eating sugars. What I like about this book, is that it doesn’t demonise eating sugars. It rather explains what added sugars do to your body and your bloodsugar levels as well as the difference in how our bodies react if the sugar is natural, such as in fruits, or if it’s added. It outlines the different types of sugars that exists and it’s really a comprehensive book about what sugar is.

I found a lot of inspiration and strenght in this book to continue my own journey to become no-added-sugar free. There is references to scientific studies in the book and, fair enough, you seem to be able to prove anything through science these day, but I think one thing has been proven without doubt – too much sugar intake is detrimental to your health and causes lots of different health issues. Sugars do not belong in our daily diet but should be a treat; a weekend and holiday luxury. What I grew up with that you could have a goodie bag with candy on Saturday och soft drinks were only for birthday parties – well, I think we were on the right track.

And for those of you who feel that no sugars would be impossible, I can offer the consolation that the less you eat, the sweeter the sugary things taste. Personally I find it difficult to eat bananas nowadays – they are too sugary!

Much Ado About Nothing

This past weekend, I watched a friend of mine perform in Fox and Chips’ production of Much Ado About Nothing at The Pack and Carriage Pub close to Mornington Crescent station, North London.

This is the upbeat Shakespeare play about Claudio and Hero, sorry Benedick and Beatrice. Let’s be honest the storyline of Benedick and Beatrice does tend to steal the show. What can be more interesting than two people who are determined to never fall in love – who do fall in love – with each other…?

Much Ado About Nothing may be familiar to some who’ve seen the movie adaptation with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Those of you who are not Shakespeare fans, of course, and who have read it or seen it performed before.

The Fox and Chips’ production is set in the 80’s and, as it’s being performed in a pub, it allows the actors to interact with the audience in a way that a traditional theatre space rarely allows. Overall, the actors are very good and do justice to Shakespeare. I would say, the difficulty with Shakespeare is to make the text sound like natural speech. With a play like Much Ado About Nothing, were most of the action seems to take place in the middle of a party, to speak your lines naturally, would be essential.There’s also a good chemistry between the actors, especially important if there is a romance invloved.

As you may have already figured out, I truly enjoyed watching this production. Despite it’s darker elements and a bit of melodrama, it’s very light-hearted. It runs Sundays and Mondays until July 26, if anyone should get inspired to go see it.

http://foxandchips.wix.com/foxandchips

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