I'm sure you all started the New Year with glorious resolutions about your physical and emotional well-being. I would like to take this opportunity to wish the very best to each of your and your family and friends!
Now, I have full confidence that you will achieve all of your resolutions, but as you're busy doing that.... not neglect your psyche.
Take a moment for yourselves and for the journey a book might lead you on. A book can ask questions we are too busy or too unaware of examining without a little spark. Where we want to arrive is not always the way we ought to move....
So as I sit here with a glass of Pessac and Puccini - really, really loud - in my headset I have the following recommendations to set you of for 2014:
Orhan Pamuk – My Name Is Red
It's a Turkish novel, translated into English, and I have it in my own library. I don't recommend it lightly since I always felt it wasn't beach-literature but rather lusciously thought-provoking. But Joselyne thankfully proved me wrong. You can read this book on the beach and enjoy your vacation!
The main characters in the novel are miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire, who create small illustrations in books, one of whom is murdered in the first chapter. The narrative keeps switching viewpoints and plays with the reader and their awareness of holding a book in their hands. For me it is similar to Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco, in that you get the investigation of a crime but wrapped into deeper questions about humanity. In this case, the question is about Art. What is the purpose or the essence of the written word versus an illustration. What do we seek in a picture? Should it be an individual representation or an abstract concept representing the ideal? It is an illuminating(!) book and I'm pleased that there are already members of the Association who – after a personal recommendation – have read, enjoyed this book, and have subsequently recommended it to their circle. Why don't you find out if you too are part of this select group and if it appeals to you?
Orhan Pamuk – Istanbul: Memories and the CityBy the same author, it is a largely autobiographical memoir that is deeply melancholic. It talks about the vast cultural change that has rocked Turkey – the unending battle between the modern and the receding past. It is also a eulogy to the lost joint family tradition. Most of all, it is a book about Bosphorus and Istanbul's history with the strait. Pamuk is trying to come to terms with his past and like each of us reviews the visible red threat and the invisible direction that might lie behind. It invited you to examine your own life journey, and for that alone it is worht bringing to your attention.
In the same vain, one of my favorites, the memoir Out Of Egypt by Andre Aciman. Aciman was born in Egypt in a French-speaking home where family members also spoke Italian, Greek, Ladino, and Arabic. His family were Jews of Turkish and Italian origin who settled in Alexandria, Egypt in 1905. Aciman moved with his family to Italy at the age of fifteen and then to New York at nineteen. In Out Of Egypt, which has won a Whiting Writer's Award, Aciman tells a story of childhood innocence, of intricate family life and the pain of exile from a place one loves. Prepare to meet mysterious Uncle Vili - soldier, salesman, Italian Fascist and British spy; the two grandmothers, the Princess and the Saint, who gossip in six different languages; his melancholy Aunt Flora who warns that Jews lose everything 'at least twice in their lives'; and his father, who considers converting to Islam in order to stay in Alexandria. Elegant, beautifully-written, moving and witty, "Out of Egypt" bridges cultures and generations and provides a moving portrait of a by-gone world.
Every year start with a bold step from the past into the future.
God's speed on your journey :-)
God's speed on your journey :-)