Monday, October 27, 2008
My first book (and author) list of 2008!
As we near the end of the tenth month of 2008, it's with a shock that I've discovered that I've not written a single blog entry about books thus far this calendar year! Especially since, in contrast, I wrote twenty book-focused blog entries last year; one of which was attracting comments -- well, one set of comments -- as late as early this month. So, to make up somewhat for this, here's going ahead and throwing the spotlight, in no particular order, on a sampling of cool writers and books that I've discovered since moving to Hong Kong (not all of them Hong Kong focused nor crime fiction oriented!):-
i) Jason Wordie -- What heritage activist Khoo Salma Nasution (nee Khoo Su Nin) has done with the streets of George Town (Penang's capital city and now a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site), local historian Wordie has done for the streets of Hong Kong Island (though I wish he had covered more of the areas where I've lived for a time now!) and Kowloon. Thanks to his books, I've been encouraged to venture into sections of Hong Kong I might not otherwise thought to do, and found much of interest. Now if only he'd hurry up and write a volume on the streets of the New Territories! ;b
ii) Qiu Xiaolong -- Born in Shanghai but currently a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, Qiu writes crime fiction novels in English that have a Shanghainese policeman as its main protagonist. Have read all five of these works -- Death of a Red Heroine (2000), A Loyal Character Dancer (2002), When Red is Black (2004), A Case of Two Cities (2006) and Red Mandarin Dress (2007) -- and find with each book that I like his writing style -- one which, unusually for a crime novelist, doesn't get me staying up all night to rush to finish each book but, instead, enjoying them in a measured pace and fashion -- more and more.
iii) Sara Paretsky -- For some reason, in all the time that I lived in the US (including Beloit, Wisconsin, just 90 miles away from Chicago where the V. I.. Warshawski novels are largely set), I never tried reading a Sara Paretsky book. But after I decided to buy and read a copy of one of her books that I found in a used bookstore here in Hong Kong, I've been on the hunt for all of the books that have the spunky V. I. as its protagonist. Thus far, have managed to track down eight of them -- mostly in used bookstores rather than those selling new books. That means that four are still waiting to be found, and I sure do hope so my search for all of them will meet with success before too long!
iv) William Boyd's Restless -- I've known for some years now about the work of this Ghanaian-born Scottish author but, as might be expected of someone with my Africanist and English boarding school background, I was drawn more to Boyd's Africa-set writings like Brazzaville Beach and A Good Man in Africa and book about English boarding schools (School Ties). But another browse through a used bookstore here in Hong Kong unearthed a spy novel that really intrigued and which I think is worth recommending to others (including those, like me, who like to read but don't show a particular prediliction for that genre).
v) Pete Brown's Three Sheets to the Wind: One Man's Quest for the Meaning of Beer -- As this blog's regular readers know, I love beer as well as travelling. Which, I guess, makes it pretty much of a foregone conclusion that I'd love Brown's actually pretty substantial -- with a total of 458 pages, not including a few more allocated for scribbling "Tasting Notes"! -- as well as eminently readable tome. Thanks to him, I'm seriously putting Brussels as one of my places to visit before I die. And Munich during Oktoberfest as well (although Barnsley I'll still think I'll give a miss)... ;)