Saturday, 30 December 2017
It can't have been a coincidence that Zadie Smith named one of the main characters of On Beauty, Howard. The book is inspired by the author's love of E.M. Forster, is a hommage to him, and a modern re-writing of his "Howard's End". Unfamiliarity with Forster's early 20th century work need not deter someone from reading Zadie Smith's tale, which follows the Belsey family and how they cope after their academic father Howard gets his "end" away.
Monday, 11 December 2017
The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart is about Vladimir Girshkin, born in Russia, whose parents emigrated to America when he was seven: "They had left their rarefied Petersburg friends, their few relatives, everyone they had ever known, traded it all in for a lifetime of solitary confinement in a Scarsdale mini-mansion." Now aged twenty-five, Vladimir lives in New York, has a boring job, has failed to live up to his mother's expectations, and is going nowhere. He had reached "the final destination of every immigrant's journey: a better home in which to be unhappy."