arkadi cloud


Good Will Come From the Sea by Christos Ikonomou,

Want to know what 'austerity' feels like? This book tells the tales of city folk forced back to the 'home' islands to scrape by.


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Sometimes you hear about a book, over and over again, and finally decide, OK I'll finally read it. This is one of those books that is often put on a pedestal as a an incredible book. It's also often used to describe other books – as this book seems to have 'invented' the term or be a stand out example of 'magical realism'.


The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke

The dastardly history of the deeds behind the Chinese village of Explosion and its meteoric rise to become a city metropolis like Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo. It's written in the form of a dynastic history that court scribes were usually ordered to write on behalf of a Chinese dynasty, though this one is not flattering to the leaders of Explosion.


Palestine +100: Stories from a century after the Nakba by Basma Ghalayini (Editor)

They asked 12 Palestinian writers to write a story about what living in Palestine would be like in 2048. Some of the stories are incredible. Some are sad. Some are strange. Overall though, the collection isn't spectacular apart from a few stand-out stories but I'm still very interested in the Palestinian struggle so I enjoyed this book. I also support books like this as a way to give Palestinians a 'voice'.

The first few stories are the strongest, and the last story was the strangest. I barely got through the last one. 3 stars for the stories and maybe half a star for the premise. I heard they even have an Iraqi version of this collection, though it has even lower reviews than this book.

Rating: ★★★ Book #38 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #Palestine #MiddleEast #ShortStory #SpeculativeFiction #TranslatedFiction

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

A magical journey of one family through the turbulent times in Iran right after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. I've read lots of history, and historical fiction from Iran, and they had such a rich culture of poetry, music, and writing. It has been through a lot with outside forces coming in and imposing their will on the people.

This book was incredible but you really have to let go and let it take you. There are mermaids, ghosts, and other magical occurrences that don't 'make sense' but they actually do. This was a beautiful book about life, death, politics, and history if you have the patience for magical realism in your stories.


Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim,

A real story of a South Korean “comfort woman” (sexual slave) forced to work for the Japanese military during World War 2. This story is told through flashbacks and snippets of interviews with Lee Ok-Sun. This book is in black and white. This graphic novel doesn't dwell in the gore, and violence. The most brutal scenes in the book is the black page where Ok-sun explains how she was raped in speech bubbles. I really liked the authors use of brush strokes, and the metaphor of 'grass' too.


Jokes for the Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf

Some macabre, and strange stories from these short stories from a war zone. I'm not sure this book was great, but it certainly was interesting. There is lot of dark humour in the stories.

This book was on the Man Booker International 2019 long list. I make it a habit to read as many of the books on the international list as possible. I like to get different perspectives on the world through translated fiction.

Rating: ★★★ Book #21 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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The Birthday Buyer by Adolfo García Ortega

How to even review a book like this? It was painful reading it but also cathartic. This is the fictional account of a 3-year old boy, Hurbinek, mentioned in the memoir of an Auschwitz survivor.

Killing a child is easy, killing thousands of children is even easier, but it isn't all that easy to erase the memory of children after they are massacred. I'm not sure why, I sometimes think it is because the lives of dead children are lives that were not lived and that must exist as fables, in a kind of timeless limbo set in history, their unredeemed presence returning to wreak a just revenge. If I believed in ghosts, I would only believe in the ghosts of massacred children.

I've never read a book like this. The author imagines the pain of the boy. He invents stories of his life that might've been. He was actually traveling to Auschwitz but had a major car accident on the way. This left his leg(s) broken and his stuck in a hospital in Germany. He seems to have written this book while in the hospital. He being temporarily crippled, and relating the imagined story of Hurbinek who was actually crippled and unable to speak.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #16 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #WW2 #Auschwitz #Fiction #TranslatedFiction

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa

What if the government decided that what you could remember? What if they enforced people forgetting certain things? Memory is at the center of this dystopian story set on an island. At seemingly random intervals, people wake up and feel a loss of something. They feel something at the edge of their memory is gone. For example, one day they wake up, wander outside, and then struggle to remember what those winged creatures flying in the sky are called. If they have any books, or other references to that 'disappeared' thing, they have to quickly eradicate it before the Memory Police finds it. Not all citizens on the island are affected by the disappearances though; some people can go on remembering the things others have forgotten, but nobody knows why. The Memory Police is focused on trying to root out those people.


The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

A short novel, a novella really, about two women traveling back to Morocco, where their families are from, and they get caught up with smuggling back a person to Europe. Of course, something goes wrong and it details the plight of these ladies.

Not much to say about this one, it's short, sweet and too the point. It certainly is very topical as it talks about the struggle of immigrants trying to find a better life for themselves and their family in Europe, at any cost. It isn't a very deep novel. It only scratches the surface of the topic.

It's too bad this story isn't from multiple perspectives. We don't get to hear much at all from the immigrant Murat at all. This novel could've also taken another approach and had different immigrants trying to come in to Europe from different countries, for different reasons.

Rating: ★★★ Book #70 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #TranslatedFiction #TommyWieringa #Morocco