Apart from a history book
, I also finished Kazuo Ishiguro's A Pale View of Hills
. His first one and the only one I hadn't read and now reprinted in the Faber Firsts
series, so well worth spending some birthday money on. It is good, because Ishiguro is a brilliant writer, but nowhere near as good as some of his later books; there is too much left unexplained for that. Still, it is sad to realise I won't be able to read a new Ishiguro book for another 4 or 5 years.
Before that I read Marilynne Robinson's Home
, which has been discussed in this thread before and is really great. The back cover quotes a reviewer who called Gilead
, her previous book which features the main characters of this one, 'humbling' and I think it applies to this book too. Few authors manage to write so deeply from the heart of the characters they have created. It's almost an insult it won the Orange Prize: as if it wouldn't be able to compete with books written by authors of the other gender.
I also read Arthur Japin's The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi
, which is translated from Dutch, but I had been given and thus read the English version. It is the fictionalised story of two African princes, from the point of view of one of them, who were given as a present to the Dutch king in the 1830s. They were treated as princes and, generally, were met with curiosity rather than racism, but the story gives some good insight in life in and world views of the mid-nineteenth century. I think it was more interesting as historical fiction than as a story though; at least I couldn't really connect to the main character.