Members of the Summer Reading Group enjoyed the selection of books this year, though they found the themes of each one quite melancholic!
They voted “The Dream Life of Sukhanov” by Olga Grushin the Best Summer Read 2007. This is a first novel by a young Russian author, which was shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers in 2006. Readers found heart-breaking this complex story of Anatoly Pavlovich Sukhanov whose life slowly breaks down as he questions the choices he made and the dreams he abandoned. They enjoyed the style of writing with its colourful descriptions, use of language and excellent punctuation.
The short stories in the collection “A Life Elsewhere” by Nigerian writer Segun Afolabi were described as very moving and very well constructed. Readers found each one very different, creating a world onto itself, but all adding up to a theme of the displaced person. Everyone had their favourite stories, but all agreed that ‘The Visitor’ was the most well rounded.
“The Tango Singer” by Argentinian writer Tomas Eloy Martinez was the least favourite of the four books. Most readers found that the fragmented style made it difficult to get into the story, whose theme of the labyrinth kept it moving around in circles without really going anywhere. However, one reader did find the emotional descriptions of the life of the eponymous singer very poignant.
Nicola has chosen “Dreams of Speaking” by Australian author Gail Jones as her Coup de Cœur Summer 2007. Everybody enjoyed this story, which they found very intimate and beautifully written. They loved the relationship between the protagonist Alice Black and the elderly Mr. Sakamoto: they felt like soulmates, brought together by a chance encounter where they discover their mutual interest in modern inventions. Readers also enjoyed the information scattered throughout the story on the inventors and their inventions. They found the theme of communication and loss was very original and moving.
Nicola’s Summer Reading list 2007
“A Life Elsewhere” by Segun Afolabi (Nigeria)
“Dreams of Speaking” by Gail Jones (Australia)
“The Dream Life of Sukhanov” by Olga Grushin (Russia)
“The Tango Singer” by Tomas Eloy Martinez (Argentina)
* Best Summer Read
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur