The Shape of the Ruins: Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean "There are truths that don’t happen in those places, truths that nobody writes down because they’re invisible. There are millions of things that happen in special places… they are places that are not within the reach of historians or journalists. They are not invented places… they are not fictions, …

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All the Beautiful Liars: Sylvia Petter

“Memories? They’re the bits you feel and the bits you’re told, and they all come together in your mind as sound bytes and snapshots. Some you lose, and some become part of someone else’s memories. Some bits just disappear, and you end up looking for them for the rest of your life, not knowing why, …

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The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World: Peter Wohlleben

Translated from German by Jane Billinghurst One day, Peter Wohlleben, a forester, stumbles across what he thinks are mossy stones but turn out to be old wood. But not just old wood, which would normally decompose, but the roots of a tree that no longer existed, that had probably been felled 400 years ago. He …

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Piranesi: Susanna Clarke

“When the Moon rose in the Third Northern Hall I went to the Ninth Vestibule to witness the joining of the three Tides. This is something that happens once every eight years.” This is how the book begins. The narrator lives in a vast labyrinth of halls filled with statues. There is an ocean in …

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Small Memories—A Memoir: José Saramago

Translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa José Saramago was born in 1922 in Azinhaga, a village in Portugal. The village has a charter that dates back to the thirteenth century, “but nothing remains of that glorious ancient history except the river that passes right by it”. The name comes from the Arabic “as-zinaik” meaning …

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The Moor’s Account: Laila Lalani

History is written by the victors, as the saying goes. What we know of the conquest—or the invasion—of the Americas tends to come from those who conquered the land. This book gives another perspective—the narrator, Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori, is among the Spanish conquistadores, but not one of them. He is different, both …

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We are Displaced—My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World: Malala Yousafzai (with Liz Welch)

Review by Mohan Raj A longer version of this review was originally published in The Book Review, Vol XLIV, No. 2-3, Feb-Mar 2020.  Reproduced with the permission of The Book Review Literary Trust. Displacement──within and across countries──of large numbers of people, owing to political instability or civil strife, is a fact of contemporary life. UN statistics …

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