It’s time for another wrap up! Throughout April, my main aim was to finish making my way through the Women’s Prize longlist, which I did, so that was exciting (even if the announced shortlist was less so)! I read 10 books in all, bringing my total for the year so far up to 42. Here are some very brief thoughts on each, with links to full reviews if you’d like to know more.
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
[ ⭐ ⭐ ] This timely book critiques the US’s handling of migrants, by drawing parallels between past and present. I respect it for this, but thought the glut of literary references felt self-congratulatory, the characters inauthentic, and the brand of empathy somewhat clumsy.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This chronicles the breakdown of a marriage, when the couple are separated by a miscarriage of justice. I wish its social and political themes had been driven home with more force, but I felt invested in the characters, and enjoyed its unbiased look at the idea of power and ownership within a relationship.
Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
[ ⭐ ] Overly long, thematically vapid, and packed with problematic characterisation, this boring novelisation of Truman Capote’s later life was sadly not for me at all.
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A rich, layered, and thought-provoking look at the complex relationship between mind and body. Beautifully written, Freshwater draws on Igbo folklore to explore the nature of identity, and the pain of feeling disjointed from your inner self.
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A retelling of the Iliad from the perspective of Briseis that adds depth and nuance to the characters, whilst capturing the brutality of war, and the lack of agency granted to women.
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] I was pleasantly surprised by this look at a dysfunctional Chinese-American family’s various struggles with the issues of identity, lineage, and duty versus desire. It had its flaws, but there are the bare bones of a great book in here.
Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This follows several generations of an African-American family through the period of slavery and Emancipation. It’s brutal at times, but its look at the finding of family fills it with much needed hope.
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] A short and brutal little tale that employs a wonderful sense of mounting dread, and very effective foreshadowing. The narrative packs a punch, but there are also interesting undercurrents of religion and morality to mull over.
The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This look at a forgotten piece of Icelandic history explores the power of storytelling, female agency, and a clash of cultures. The settings are painted beautifully, but I felt the book suffered slightly from uneven pacing and my own admittedly high expectations.
I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya
[ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ] This memoir/essay explores the pervasive harm of living under the fear of masculine energy. Written by a trans woman of colour, it offers an insightful, perceptive, nuanced, and intersectional viewpoint, by highlighting how ingrained misogyny is in all of us, and offering hope for a better future. I adored it!
There we have it! If any of the books I mentioned caught your eye, you can find them with free shipping over on Book Depository. My favourite read in April was I’m Afraid of Men. What was yours?