Book review: The White Tiger

The White Tiger

The White Tiger

by Aravind Adiga
Published by Free Press in 2008
Genres: Fiction, Cultural, India
Pages: 276
Goodreads

As I explained in my video announcing the titles I was going to read in November 2017, my awesome public library has been organizing something great this year: a winter challenge, where the staff picks a title for you!
I was totally excited like a kid under the Christmas tree when I went to pick up my mystery title. It ended up being The White Tiger, by an author I had never heard of – though I realized later his latest book is featured among the 100 best books of 2017 according to the New York Times review of Books.
To be honest with you, this is definitely a book I would never have chosen by myself: the few times I have tried to read books about India, I found them good, but rather depressing, so I try to stay away from them now.
But isn’t a reading challenge supposed to invite you away from your comfort zone? So, well done and thanks to the staff member who picked it up for me!

Click to continue reading

Book review: Five-Finger Discount

Five-Finger Discount:
A Crooked Family History

by

Helene STAPINSKI

255 pages

Published by Random House in 2002

Five-finger Discount

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

   New Authors 2013

where are you reading

50 states –
#3: New Jersey

 

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

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Traveling the US through books, I went to New Jersey with Five-Finger Discount. That was quite an enlightening memoir! I had no idea how life was in the 1970s in New Jersey, in what might have been a rather normal family, coming from Poland.

If the word “memoir” is a warning flag for boring books for you, don’t worry about this one: it is so full of amazing stories, with crimes, murders, and lots of funny, gross details on daily life in tough New Jersey neighborhoods.

That lady has quite a family, with characters knowing all about going around the law, or being too often caught by it! You meet all kind of mafia guys and gangsters.

Corruption and poverty are also part of the work scene, with more incredible stories.

I was also appalled at the pollution descriptions. Warning: do not eat before reading the part about cleaning some old unused and forgotten industrial freezers…

I understand now why this book has been on the Book Club shelf of my library for a long time: it is both so funny and so true, and seems to describe very well a page of Americana one may not always be proud of.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

With deadpan humor and obvious affection, Five-Finger Discount recounts the story of an unforgettable New Jersey family of swindlers, bookies, embezzlers, and mobster-wannabes. In the memoir Mary Karr calls “a page-turner,” Helene Stapinski ingeniously weaves the checkered history of her hometown of Jersey City—a place known for its political corruption and industrial blight—with the tales that have swirled around her relatives for decades. Navigating a childhood of toxic waste and tough love, Stapinski tells an extraordinary tale at once heartbreaking and hysterically funny. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helene Stapinski

Helene Stapinski began her career at her hometown newspaper, The Jersey Journal, and since then has written for The New York Times, New York magazine, and People, among other publications. She received her B.A. in journalism from New York University in 1987 and her M.F.A. from Columbia in 1995. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Her website highlights her 4 books.

You can watch her discussing this book.

REVIEWS BY OTHER BLOGGERS

Crossing Dewey
Goodreads readers

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(2012) #67 review: Dusk

Dusk

(Rosales Saga, #1)

by

Sionil JOSÉ

317 pages

Published in 1984

Dusk

THIS BOOK COUNTS FOR THE FOLLOWING
READING CHALLENGES

            

   

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

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On a background of hauntingly beautiful landscape, so well  committed to words, see my favorite passage here below, this is actually the horrific history of Spaniard colonization (and the beginning of the American one) of the Philippines.

This was totally new to me, though unfortunately history repeats itself when it comes to colonization, with the help of the Church. I’m a committed Christian, but I have to say the Church does not come at all under nice colors, in the way it is corrupted and how they treat the poor.

Dusk is actually a reflection on suffering and salvation, as the family of Istak struggles with poverty, with their anger and its consequences, towards the foreigners who hold the powers, deprive them of their lands, and push them into fleeing. As you follow them in their odyssey, you embrace their pains and simple joys, as they meet adversity, death, and love. And all of this again on the background of a seducing landscape.

This saga is comprised of 4 more volumes.

FAVORITE PASSAGES

Dusk 2                                                                                                                            p.28

“It was the priest who ruled,  who enacted the laws of the Church and of man, and added to such laws the lash of prejudice, for power was always white, Castilian, and not brown like the good earth.” p. 142

“I pray that You be not white, that You be without color and that You be in all men, because goodness cannot be encased only in white.” pp.142-143

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

With Dusk (originally published in the Philippines as Po-on), F. Sionil Jose begins his five-novel Rosales Saga, which the poet and critic Ricaredo Demetillo called “the first great Filipino novels written in English.” Set in the 1880s, Dusk records the exile of a tenant family from its village and the new life it attempts to make in the small town of Rosales. Here commences the epic tale of a family unwillingly thrown into the turmoil of history. But this is more than a historical novel; it is also the eternal story of man’s tortured search for true faith and the larger meaning of existence. Jose has achieved a fiction of extraordinary scope and passion, a book as meaningful to Philippine literature as One Hundred Years of Solitude is to Latin American literature. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sionil José

Francisco Sionil José was born in 1924 in Pangasinan province and attended the public school in his hometown. He attended the University of Santo Tomas after World War II and in 1949, started his career in writing. Since then, his fiction has been published internationally and translated into several languages including his native Ilokano. He has been involved with the international cultural organizations, notably International P.E.N., the world association of poets, playwrights, essayists and novelists whose Philippine Center he founded in 1958.

F. Sionil José, the Philippines’ most widely translated author, is known best for his epic work, the Rosales saga – five novels encompassing a hundred years of Philippine history – a vivid documentary of Filipino life.
In 1980, Sionil José received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts.
In 2001, Sionil José was named National Artist for Literature.
In 2004, Sionil José received the Pablo Neruda Centennial Award.

REVIEWS BY OTHERS

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