Review: Fractured Destinies – Rabai al-Madhoun

Fractured Destinies - Rabai al-Madhoun

Buy now from Book Depository What does it mean to be an Israeli Arab? There is no easy answer, but Rabai al-Madhoun’s 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning novel, Fractured Destinies (American University in Cairo Press, translated from Arabic by Paul Starkey), tackles the question’s complexities head on, with skill and unflinching courage. Although many Western … Read more

Review: This Life or the Next – Demian Vitanza

This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza

This Life or the Next (AmazonCrossing, written by Demian Vitanza, translated from Norwegian by Tanya Thresher) is the fictionalised story of “Tariq Khan”, a Norwegian Pakistani man who travelled to Syria to undertake jihad. Based on more than 100 hours of discussion with a foreign fighter who returned to Norway and was imprisoned for his involvement with terrorist organisations, both the subject of the book and the author altered details to create a fictional work that nevertheless tells something of a true story.

Review: The Parting Gift – Evan Fallenberg

The Parting Gift, by Evan Fallenberg

A dark story of human relationships, The Parting Gift (by Evan Fallenberg, Other Press) captures the basest of our instincts – love, jealousy, anger, revenge – and wraps them up in an exotically seasoned mystery story. Written in the form of a letter to a friend, Adam, who sits across the room from him, the book’s unnamed narrator sets out the details of his past and the circumstances that brought him from Israel to Adam’s American front door four months earlier. A chance encounter with an Israeli spice merchant, Uzi, has seen the narrator fall under the spell of pure animal magnetism, losing himself in Uzi’s life, business and family. With time, however, he has come up for air, and does not always like what he sees.

Book benches, Istanbul, Turkey

Book benches, Istanbul, Turkey

Wedged open to the most interesting page, these pieces of literary art entice readers not only to stop and take a rest, but also to immerse themselves into Turkey’s national literature. Located around the city of Istanbul, these book benches are shaped like paperback books and can be found in parks, bus stops, waterfronts, and various other locations.

Review: Last Train to Istanbul – Ayşe Kulin

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin

Like Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Last Train to Istanbul (AmazonCrossing, written by Ayşe Kulin, translated from Turkish by John W. Baker) is a work of historical fiction, centred around a relatively unknown example of human compassion and resistance in the face of Nazi occupation. Unlike The Nightingale, however, this Resistance had, at least implicit, diplomatic backing.

Review: The Great Passage – Shion Miura

The Great Passage by Shion Miura

Like the dictionary itself, Shion Miura’s The Great Passage (AmazonCrossing, translated from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter) is a book with many layers. At its most superficial, the Gembu Books Dictionary Editorial Department has a new project – a dream even – to create a new Japanese dictionary, Daitokai (The Great Passage); a “ship that crosses the sea of words”.

Aymanam, Kerala, India

Ayemenem, India

Aymanam, the town of 7,000 houses in the Kottayam District of Kerala, India, was the childhood home of Arundhati Roy, Booker prize-winning author of The God of Small Things. Brought to life as the fictionalised town Ayemenem, some of the architecture and natural wonders of her early years made their way into the book.

The Museum of Innocence, Istanbul, Turkey

Museum of Innocence, Istanbul, Turkey

When Turkish Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, first thought of the Museum of Innocence, he knew it was a two-part plan: the novel, in which a man creates a museum, dedicated to items that have belonged to, or even been touched by, the woman he loved; and a museum, full of items that were captured in the pages of the book.

An Introduction to Literary Travel (+ ideas to get you started)

Denny's receipt, Shibuya, Japan

There is something magical about opening the first page of a new book, and falling headlong, like Harry Potter into a Pensieve, into a new world the author has created in words. As readers, we draw our blankets a little closer as Lucy finds herself crunching snow underfoot, never having expected to find herself in eternal winter instead of a wardrobe.