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Fighting the quarantine blues with fiction

  • Published at 12:56 pm April 12th, 2020
Fighting the quarantine blues with fiction

Books & Blurbs 

Over the last few weeks several libraries and companies have come forward to facilitate reading by offering free e-books and audio books. When you have to stay indoors, reading can be a great remedy for boredom. Books that inspire and uplift and offer comfort and respite can help fight the quarantine blues. Humorous books can come to your aid, too, providing you with the much-needed relief you need in these trying times. 

The list of classics given below is for those of you who are looking for suggestions about books to leaf through.

Carry on, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

A collection of ten uproarious short stories. From the moment Jeeves cures Bertie of a raging hangover with his own concoction of Worcestershire sauce and tomato juice, they become steadfast partners. Whether it is fixing a plan-gone-wrong, or solving his friends’ love lives, Jeeves is Bertie’s unfaltering aide through a series of accidental – and self-imposed – misadventures.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. One of the world’s most acclaimed novels, it is a chronicle of life, death and the essential tragicomedy of life. In the beautiful as well as ridiculous story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity; at the same time, in the history, myths, magic, growth and decay of the Macondos one sees all of Latin America. 

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A timeless classic. A pilot stranded in the desert awakes one morning to see, standing before him, the most extraordinary little fellow. "Please," asks the stranger, "draw me a sheep." And the pilot realizes that when life's events are too difficult to understand, there is no choice but to succumb to their mysteries. Thus begins this wise and enchanting fable that, in teaching the secret of what is really important in life, has changed forever the world for its readers. 

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami                

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —"Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question. A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's 1984, 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami's most ambitious undertaking. 

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

In these stories lives come into focus through single events or sudden memories which bring the past bubbling to the surface. The past, as Alice Munro's characters discover, is made up not only of what is remembered, but also what isn't. There is in this collection a sense of regret in her characters for what might have been. But at the same time there is hope—there are people who reinvent themselves and seize life by the throat, daring to go beyond what is remembered.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India's independence, Saleem Sinai is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other 'midnight's children' all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts. Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem's story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious. 

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

In her second novel written in English, Elif Shafak confronts her country’s violent past in a vivid and colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States. At its center is the “bastard” of the title, Asya, a nineteen-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and the French Existentialists, and the four sisters of the Kazanci family who all live together in an extended household in Istanbul. Their one estranged brother lives in Arizona with his wife and her Armenian daughter, Armanoush. When Armanoush secretly flies to Istanbul in search of her identity, she finds the Kazanci sisters and becomes fast friends with Asya. A secret is uncovered that links the two families and ties them to the 1915 Armenian deportations and massacres. 

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: granddaughter Alba, a strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future. 

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

At once a devious mystery, a beguiling love story and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a tale that transports you to the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul. It is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power. 

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera 

Rich in its stories, characters and imaginative range, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is the novel that brought Milan Kundera his first big international success in the late 1970s. Like all his work, it is valuable for far more than its historical implications. In seven wonderfully integrated parts, different aspects of human existence are magnified and reduced, reordered and emphasized, newly examined, analyzed, and experienced.

Beloved by Toni Morrison 

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but 18 years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of a farm where hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

Karim Amir lives with his English mother and Indian father in the routine comfort of suburban London, enduring his teenage years with good humor, always on the lookout for adventure—and sexual possibilities. Life gets more interesting, however, when his father falls in love with one of his disciples, the beautiful and brazen Eva. Soon Karim is introduced to a world of renegade theater directors, punk rock stars, fancy parties, and all the sex a young man could desire. A love story for at least two generations, The Buddha of Suburbia is a high-spirited comedy of sexual manners and social turmoil. 

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino 

In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo—Tartar emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts the emperor with tales of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire. But gradually it becomes clear that he is actually describing one city: Venice. 

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk

Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller’s answer.

London Fields by Martin Amis

London Fields is Amis's murder story for the end of the millennium. The murderee is Nicola Six, a "black hole" of sex and self-loathing intent on orchestrating her own extinction. The murderer may be Keith Talent, a violent lowlife whose only passions are pornography and darts. Or is the killer the rich, honorable, and dimly romantic Guy Clinch?

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

In this gorgeously wrought, award-winning novel, Vásquez confronts the history of his home country, Colombia. In the city of Bogotá, Antonio Yammara reads an article which transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medellín cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. Back then, Antonio witnessed a friend’s murder. As he investigates, he discovers the many ways in which his own life and his friend’s family have been shaped by his country’s recent violent past. 

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