We were wondering what to read for our next book club meeting. Some names came up. Here's what we thought:
Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse Protected content is set before the start of World War I. Considered one of the most important works of the 20th century. With this ambitious novel, Woolf established herself as one of the leading writers of modernism. The novel develops innovative literary techniques to reveal women's experience and to provide an alternative to male-dominated views of reality. On the surface, the novel tells the story of the Ramsay family and the guests who come to stay with them at their vacation home on the Hebrides Islands in Scotland. At its heart, however, the novel is a meditation on time and how humans reckon with its relentless passage. The novel was written and published during one of the most dense and impressive periods of development in English literary history. The modernist period gave rise to many groundbreaking and enduring masterworks, such as T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and James Joyce's Ulysses. This was also a period of rapid intellectual achievement, and Woolf's emphasis on consciousness and a character's inner lives is consistent with the scientific and psychological ideas posited at the time. As Sigmund Freud explored theories of consciousness and subconsciousness, Virgina Woolf wrote a novel that focuses not on the events of the external world but on the richness and complexity of mental interiority.
Thus, to convey this sense of human consciousness, Woolf's narrative departs from the traditional plot-driven structure as it is often expressed by an objective, third-party narrative. Instead she incorporates highly innovative literary devices to capture the thought process, using in particular stream of consciousness and free indirect discourse. Given that the novel is defined by subjectivity, it focuses on the subjectivity of reality, experience, and time. The novel also represents the inverweaving of various perspectives and individual trains of thought that, strung together, constitute a cohesive whole.
Virginia Woolf - Orlando Protected content Woolf's sixth major novel, is a fantastic historical biography, which spans almost Protected content in the lifetime of its protagonist. The novel was conceived as a "writer's holiday" from more structured and demanding novels. Woolf allowed neither time nor gender to constrain her writing. The protagonist, Orlando, ages only thirty-six years and changes gender from man to woman. This pseudo-biography satirizes more traditional Victorian biographies that emphasize facts and truth in their subjects' lives. Although Orlando may have been intended to be a satire or a holiday, it touches on important issues of gender, self-knowledge, and truth with Virginia Woolf's signature poetic style.
Roberto Bolaño - Last Evenings on Earth Protected content melancholy folklore of exile," as Roberto Bolaño once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. Bolano's narrators are usually writers grappling with private (and generally unlucky) quests, who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. These protagonists tend to take detours and to narrate unresolved efforts. They are characters living in the margins, often coming to pieces, and sometimes, as in a nightmare, in constant flight from something horrid.
In the short story "Silva the Eye," Bolaño writes in the opening sentence: "It's strange how things happen, Mauricio Silva, known as The Eye, always tried to escape violence, even at the risk of being considered a coward, but the violence, the real violence, can't be escaped, at least not by us, born in Latin America in the Protected content , those of us who were around 20 years old when Salvador Allende died."
Set in the Chilean exile diaspora of Latin America and Europe, and peopled by Bolaño's beloved "failed generation," the stories of Last Evenings on Earth have appeared in The New Yorker and Grand Street.
Banana Yoshimoto - Kitchen Protected content won two of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, climbed its way to the top of the best-seller list, then remained there for over a year and sold millions of copies. Kitchen is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book that juxtaposes two tales about mothers, transsexuality, kitchens, love, tragedy, and the terms they all come to in the minds of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Told in a whimsical style that recalls the early Marguerite Duras, "Kitchen" and its companion story, "Moonlight Shadow," are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a masterful storyteller. They are the work of a very special new writer whose voice echoes in the mind and the soul.(less)
Waiting for more suggestions!