What are You Reading?

 

The Old Normal: Return to Eldorado
from Duncan Wheeler

Forget Blur versus Oasis, the real cultural war of the nineties was between Eldorado (BBC, 1992-1993) and Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-). With the imminent threat of having the privilege to charge a licence fee removed if the public broadcaster failed to reach a wider cross-section of society, the BBC was in desperate need of a hit. 
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Doreen Warriner's War
from Jana Buresova

Warriner’s battle was not against the insidious, unseen virus, but an all too visible World War Two enemy in Gestapo uniforms. Working with the British Committee for Refugees in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), she cared for, and protected as far as possible, the wives and children of mainly political refugees, helping hundreds to escape to safety in Britain during 1938–1939.
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José Lezama Lima: The Immobile Traveller for Immobile Travellers
from William Rowlandson

I’ve not read any Galdós (not that I’d planned to). I’ve not achieved mighty things. But I have read Camus’ The Plague and I have re-read José Lezama Lima’s Paradiso for the first time since dedicating four years of my life two decades ago to obsessive scrutiny of the novel for my PhD. What tremendous comfort. What an experience.
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A Book about the Little Joys of Life: Vovô Tsongonhana by Augusto Carlos
from Vincenzo Cammarata

Sharing is caring, as we all know. Speaking with the voice of an imaginary story-teller, Mozambican writer Augusto Carlos narrates the story of an old street seller from Congolote, who regularly goes to Maputo to sell his artefacts, and one day decides to take a child off the street. 
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Tea Rooms by Luisa Carnés
from Sally Faulkner

Before lockdown my colleague Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles lent me Luisa Carnés's amazing Tea Rooms. I love the portrait of strong, working women in 1930s Spain, and the reminder of how far feminism has come, but how far it still has to go. More light-heartedly, the description of women's work reminds me of all the years I spent waitressing as a teenager and student!

What (Not) To Read: Mexico-US Border Trouble
from Niamh Thornton

In early January and February 2020 an on- and off-line publishing storm unfolded over the publication and promotion of American Dirt (2020). Prompted by a lively and scabrous post describing it as “a racist brownface novel”, much of the debate ranged around the fact that it was receiving undeserved attention from influential celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey through her Book Club.
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Nautical novels | Novelas nauticas
from Catherine Davies

I first read Shanti Andía when I was a student forty years ago and I thought it at the time unremarkable. I’ve now come back to it, unfairly perhaps, after a first encounter with Baroja’s contemporary, Joseph Conrad. Why, I asked myself, are there so many fine British novels about ships and the sea and none in Spanish? 
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