Post Script: The White Book – Han Kang

The White Book

The White Book

Han Kang

Translated by Deborah Smith

Allen & Unwin Australia

Portobello Books

ISBN: 9781846276293

 

Description:

From the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian

 

Writing while on a residency in Warsaw, a city palpably scarred by the violence of the past, the narrator finds herself haunted by the story of her older sister, who died a mere two hours after birth. A fragmented exploration of white things – the swaddling bands that were also her shroud, the breast milk she did not live to drink, the blank page on which the narrator herself attempts to reconstruct the story – unfolds in a powerfully poetic distillation.

 

As she walks the unfamiliar, snow-streaked streets, lined by buildings formerly obliterated in the Second World War, their identities blur and overlap as the narrator wonders, ‘Can I give this life to you?’. The White Book is a book like no other. It is a meditation on a colour, on the tenacity and fragility of the human spirit, and our attempts to graft new life from the ashes of destruction.

 

This is both the most autobiographical and the most experimental book to date from South Korean master Han Kang.

 

 

My View:

Experimental in presentation and design, economically written, no words wasted, emotions captured seemingly effortlessly, this is a stunning read, an emotional read.

 

Poignant beautiful prose – so personal, like reading someone else’s diary, someone who has a heart full of sadness (I hope that is not the reality, I hope that is just my imagination).

 

Advertisements

Post Script: The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Heather Morris

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760403171

 

Description:

The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tetovierer – the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good.

This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz- Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable.

Extraordinary – moving, confronting and uplifting… a story about the extremes of human behaviour: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I recommend it unreservedly’—GRAEME SIMSION

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz has the quality of a dark fairy-tale. It is both simple and epic, shot through with compassion and love… Everyone should read it’—HUGH RIMINTON

 

An extraordinary story of a single and singular life and its great love’—ASHLEY HAY

 

 

My View:

How can a book be chilling yet so beautiful simultaneously? Be so horrific yet speak of never ending love on the same page? Be so confronting yet engage and enthral?

 

A book of some many contrasts, such pain and yet there is so much love on these pages, this is perhaps the best creative memoir you will read. There would not be many people who do not already know of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, but do you know of the stories of survival, of friendship, of courage, of love, of doing “what I can to survive” (p.33)? This is a remarkable narrative told with brutal tenderness; a view through a lens of love.

 

This has already garnered a place in my best reads of 2018, I am sure it will soon be on your best read list too.

 

 

In The Mail 22nd December 2017

A busy book receiving week. I have already had a sneak peek at a couple of the titles here; Anatomy Of A Scandal captures the epitome of Entitlement, Maggie’s Recipes For Life is a new favourite,    Salt Fat Acid Heat – is a book that will be on my best of list for 2017, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is one I am really looking forward to reading, The Wanted –   Robert Crais has been on my want to read list forever, really looking forward to this one.  Fallow looks intriguing, I Love You In Five Languages is delightful,  The Hangman appeals, The Collector  – psychological thrillers are my favourite type of read,  The Secret Vineyard – set in  our very own Margaret River,  The Book of Summer – a dual timeline read. Where to begin? Any of your favourites here?

 

books 22 Dec 2017

 

Post Script: I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell

I Am I Am I Am

I Am, I Am, I Am

Seventeen Brushes With Death

Maggie O’Farrell

Hachette Australia

Tinder Press

ISBN: 9781472240750

 

Description:

A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

 

‘O’Farrell takes up a bow and arrow and aims at the human heart’ The Times

‘A life-enhancing two-fingers to death… mesmerising’ The Sunday Times

I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Intelligent, insightful, inspirational, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

 

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell.

It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?

 

I AM, I AM, I AM will speak to readers who loved Cheryl Strayed’s WILD or Max Porter’s GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS.

 

 

My View:

I was tempted to request this book when I came upon fellow book blogger and reviewer (and book seller) Written By Sime’s review:  

https://writtenbysime.com/2017/09/13/i-am-i-am-i-am-seventeen-brushes-with-death-by-maggie-ofarrell/ and I was so glad he enjoyed the read and shared his view.

 

This is a remarkable read – what an incredible life Maggie O’Farrell has led (and not by choice) and yet…here she is, daughter, wife, mother and successful writer. Remarkable – I think that covers it all!  J

 

As the title informs there are seventeen chapters in this creative memoir, each chapter is heart wrenching and demonstrates the incredible resilience that is Maggie O’Farrell. For me I was profoundly affected by several chapters – the first, titled Neck 1990 – could be the stuff that a ripping work of crime fiction is made from- but it’s not.  If you have ever been the source of amusement to a bully, to a lunatic…or if you are female you will get chills down your spine, you will recognise the issue here, you too will know what lies ahead, you may have “the instinct for the onset of violence.” p. 12  I know I have it.

 

“Lungs” could have so easily been named #MeToo  – I am sure so many of you will identify with the 16 year old Maggie O’Farrell in this chapter.

 

And the chapter that talks about anaphylaxis…  so much that is personal to me, perhaps it will strike a chord with you too.

 

A wonderful read.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Museum of Words – Georgia Blain

The Museum of Words

The Museum of Words

Georgia Blain

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322255

 

Description:

In late 2015, Georgia Blain was diagnosed with a tumour sitting right in the language centre of her brain. Prior to this, Georgia’s only warning had been a niggling sense that her speech was slightly awry. She ignored it, and on a bright spring day, as she was mowing the lawn, she collapsed on a bed of blossoms, blood frothing at her mouth.

 

Waking up to find herself in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital, she tries to answer questions, but is unable to speak. After the shock of a bleak prognosis and a long, gruelling treatment schedule, she immediately turns to writing to rebuild her language and herself.

 

At the same time, her mother, Anne Deveson, moves into a nursing home with Alzheimer’s; weeks earlier, her best friend and mentor had been diagnosed with the same brain tumour. All three of them are writers, with language at the core of their being.

 

The Museum of Words is a meditation on writing, reading, first words and last words, picking up thread after thread as it builds on each story to become a much larger narrative. This idiosyncratic and deeply personal memoir is a writer’s take on how language shapes us, and how often we take it for granted — until we are in danger of losing it.

 

 

My View:

The Museum of Words is gently and wisely written; it speaks of truths, of family history, of love and of course, of dying. It was deeply moving yet not depressing or self-indulgent.  Georgia Blain was a wordsmith extraordinaire, her love of words enriched the page. I wish there were more pages to turn, more books to read by this amazing writer.

 

A lyrical, moving read.

 

Post Script: Miracles Do Happen – Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.Miracles Do Happen

Miracles Do Happen

Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322309

 

Description:

In 1933, a ten-year-old Jewish girl, Fela Perelman, befriended a new family that had moved into her street in Lodz, Poland. There were three children in the Rozenblum family — Rose, Felix, and Maria. Fela and Rose became best friends, while Felix kept his distance. Five years later, Fela and Felix discovered that they liked each other, and soon became sweethearts.

 

When war broke out not long after, the Jews of Lodz found themselves under German occupation, and were soon forced into a ghetto. For Fela and her family, and her community, it was the start of a descent into hell. Fela eventually survived the ghetto, forced labour in Germany, and then the last 17 months of Auschwitz’s existence and the death march out of it.

 

For Felix, the Germans’ intentions were crystal clear. Late in November 1939, as a 17-year-old, he decided to flee eastward, to Soviet-controlled Polish territory. He begged his family to come with him, but they felt unable to. Felix spent the war doing forced labour in the Soviet Union, often in very harsh conditions.

 

After the war, miraculously, Fela and Felix found each other. None of Fela’s family had survived. Of Felix’s immediate family, only his two sisters had survived — and they were now in Sweden. The young couple were bereft and alone. This is their story.

 

 

My View:

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.

 

A poignant memoir that is told in two parts: Fela’s story of life pre-world war two, a time of innocence and meeting the boy who was destined to become her husband and an economically worded description of life during the war and as an inmate of Auschwitz and other detention centres. I am glad for the sparseness of words – what Fela has written must have been very difficult to survive let alone recount afterwards. The horrors penetrate event the toughest psyche.  Fela story ends with her migration to Australia.

 

Felix’s story is a little different – yet just as haunting and survival just as miraculous as that described in Fela’s narrative; forced labour in Russia was no doubt an extremely difficult and perilous, yet Felix survived and post war reconnected with Fela and eventually migrated to Australia.  What a remarkable story. What resilience!

 

I think we all would benefit from reading these courageous personal stories – a reminder of just how hostile life was during this ghastly inhuman war (all wars are unconscionable). There are lessons for all here.

 

PS

Love the cover art – the images and the tactile paper.