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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? | Books


Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from the last week.

It’s only February, but JayZed thinks Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (translated by Sophie Hughes) could be the book of the year:


Wow, this novel left me reeling. It’s about a murder in the rural slums of Veracruz in Mexico, and the harsh and violent lives of the people involved. The subject matter is brutal throughout: as well as the murder there’s domestic violence, drug addiction, prostitution, child sexual abuse, police brutality, backstreet abortions and much more. Yes, it’s all very harrowing and as a reader you feel more than a few punches to the gut, but the book is sustained and elevated by the stunning prose: it’s relentless and unflinching, but also mesmerising and at times darkly, beautifully luminous… The year is young, but this is probably book of the year for me so far. A brilliant job by both writer and translator.

BobHammond2 has just finished The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon:


I won’t go on about it too much as it’s been widely reviewed and praised by others over the years, apart from to say I massively enjoyed it. There was a lot more to it than I was expecting, as it flitted from Prague to the US to the South Pole, and covered such topics as the treatment of the Jews during WW2, the explosion of the comic book industry during and after the war, magic and escapology. All delivered with a wry humour by Michael Chabon that had me constantly smiling in the two weeks it took me to read it.

“I am truly amazed” by The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns, says lonelybloomer:


It is about what I think should be called profound evil. There’s so much death and pain in it, and weirdness, and creepy fun. Yet it doesn’t bring one down. I can’t stop thinking about it.

The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Márquez is “an incredible novel,” says SydneyH:


The text is a sort of nightmarish satire of the dictator-state, set in a Caribbean nation. The term ‘magic realism’ may be appropriate for One Hundred Years of Solitude, where gypsies get up to mischief in an historical locale, but I don’t think it is suitable here. Firstly, because the country isn’t specified, and so the narrative takes place in a hazy fictional realm. Secondly, with the exception of an incident of fortune-telling, there is little sorcery in any recognisable form, though the lepers in the colony are convinced that the chief’s touch will cure their ailment. The dream-like episodes progress from the tyrant’s virile youth to senility, when his appointed deputies torture and kill quite independently. Through it all is an element of farce that seems inherent to this form of leadership, such as when the autocrat games the lottery to ensure that he is the winner on every occasion. Probably the most defining quality of the work is the immersive prose, written without paragraph breaks. I suspect this would be frustrating for many people, but this translation of Gregory Rabassa is irresistible.

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht has proved irresistible to Sara Richards:


As part of my project of reading through all the winners of the Women’s Prize I got to The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht which was a haunting story of a village somewhere in the Balkans between the two world wars and the more recent conflicts. Obreht uses a mix of history and folklore which I find irresistible in any novel set among the villages in the area my grandparents came from, and in that rich mix some eternal truths are spelled out… This novel isn’t very long but is so different from the other prize winners and it is dense and moving and beautifully written.

“Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat is an absolute delight,” says proust:


I was given it in hardback for Christmas, and it is best appreciated in this format, given its exquisite illustrations. Brilliantly well written and researched, with laugh out loud sentences on every page. Fascinating insight into the fin-de-siècle and belle époque. This is a book to treasure.

Dracula by Bram Stoker has sunk its teeth into dylan37:


Undeniably classic. Powerful and emotional, covering a great deal of ground in economic and pacy storytelling: Victorian manners, social propriety, fairytale, folklore, and the early days of psychoanalysis. Genuinely eye-widening in the action sequences, and occasionally drily amusing. (On the journey to the Count’s castle, Harker overhears some remarks about him in an inn, and translates them as “devil” and “vampire”. He makes a memo to self: must ask the Count about these local superstitions). And there’s a very dirty joke smuggled in to the final lines of chapter 8.

Bringing his diabolical endeavour ashore at Whitby, through a bustling dirty London, and back to misty mountains of Transylvania, this bloody midnight visitor keeps us on the run – breathless, watchful, and trying to get all business concluded before sunrise.

Finally, Fear Is the Rider by Kenneth Cook has unsettled jimitron5000:


This is hold-your-breath, shut your eyes and hope it’s over, edge of the seat stuff. A man driving across the outback to go his new job meets a young woman on the way. Thinking with his wrong brain he follows the track she is taking, something entirely unsuitable in his little Honda. As he drives along she runs out in front of him, terrified, having narrowly escaped from a madman. He picks her up and from then on it is chase in the desert. The two of them trying to get away in a small Honda, the axe-wielding assailant following them in a land cruiser. Sure, some of the dialogue might be a bit wooden, and there might not be a great deal of character development but what it lacks in polish it makes up for in just how unsettling it is.

Never think with your wrong brain!

Interesting links about books and reading

If you’re on Instagram, now you can share your reads with us: simply tag your posts with the hashtag #GuardianBooks, and we’ll include a selection in this blog. Happy reading!



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