The Harmony Silk Factory

“The Harmony Silk Factory” by Tash Aw (Malaysia)

Synopsis

Set in Malaysia in the 1930s and 40s, with the rumbling of the Second World War in the background and the Japanese about to invade, “The Harmony Silk Factory” is the story of four people… Read more 

Summer Reading Reviews

Members of the Summer Reading Group enjoyed the selection of books this year, though most did not manage to read all five (on average they read four)!

They voted “The Harmony Silk Factory” by Tash Aw the Best Summer Read 2006. The story has three parts with three different narrators and members enjoyed the suspense the author manages to build up in the first two parts. They found the last part a bit disappointing though this did not detract from their overall enjoyment of the story, which they found well constructed and entertaining.

Everybody enjoyed “The Whale Caller” by Zakes Mda (South Africa), which they described as a poetic, authentic and moving story about relationships. They loved the two protagonists and also the secondary characters (including the whale!) that populate the tale.

“Zorro” was considered the classic adventure story that was enjoyable from beginning to end. The quality of Isabel Allende’s writing added to the pleasure the members had when reading it.

The least favourite was “On Beauty”, though everyone found it a very easy read. Zadie Smith pays hommage to E. M. Forster and there are many themes from “Howard’s End” in her novel, which readers of both found disconcerting.

Nicola was the only one to have read “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” by Luis Alberto Urrea (Mexico)! She has chosen it as her Coup de Cœur Summer 2006, since she feels that it surpasses the four other books by far. The story has depth and detail that are not to be found in the others (though “Zorro” does come close!). Nicola was captivated from the start by the fascinating array of characters, the setting and the powerful story. As you may have guessed, Nicola highly recommends this book! 

Nicola’s Summer Reading list 2006

“Harmony Silk Factory” by Tash Aw (Malaysia)
“Hummingbird’s Daughter” by Luis Alberto Urrea (Mexico)
“On Beauty” by Zadie Smith (U.K.)
“Whale Caller” by Zakes Mda (South Africa)
“Zorro” by Isabel Allende (Chile)

* Best Summer Read
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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