A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Vintage Classics: paperback published 2005: 293 pages
In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war. He volunteered for the ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of this experience came A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway’s description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer, and the men and women he meets in Italy, with total conviction. But A Farewell to Arms is not only a novel of war – in it Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion. Continue reading
Stoner: A Novel by John Williams
Vintage Classics: paperback published 2012: 278 pages
William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. Later, he becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. his life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely.
Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Faber and Faber: paperback published 2012: 292 pages
Wait now, light me up so we do this right, yes, hold me steady to the lamp, hold it, hold, good, a slow pull to start with, to draw the smoke low into the lungs, yes, oh my…
Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid’s opium room the air is thick with voices and ghosts: Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. A young woman holds a long-stemmed pipe over a flame, her hair falling across her eyes. Men sprawl and mutter in the gloom. Here, they say you introduce only your worst enemy to opium. There is an underworld whisper of a new terror: the Pathar Maar, the stone killer, whose victims are the nameless, invisible poor. In the broken city, there are too many to count. Stretching across three decades, with an interlude in Mao’s China, it portrays a city in collision with itself. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose. Continue reading