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Category Archive for '1-2019 Reviews'

Telling the story of his father’s life, author Johannes Anyuru, the son of a Ugandan father and Swedish mother, focuses on the fraught political climates of several East African countries in the 1970s, when his father was in his early twenties, trying to find some sort of direction and sense of purpose. As a young teen in Uganda in the early 1960s, his father, known here as P, took advantage of a program in Greece which taught him and other young men in Uganda how to fly military aircraft, a program which changed his life. He loves the freedom of the air and sees himself flying professionally. P is an ethnic Langi, belonging to the group to which President Obote of Uganda also belongs, but as the novel opens, Obote has just been deposed in a coup led by Idi Amin. Assumed to be a supporter of Obote, P has no interest in being drafted into the air corps aiding Amin in his bloody rise to power. Secretly escaping his program in Greece by going to Rome, he then flies to Lusaka in Zambia, hoping to start a job he found as a crop-duster. The back and forth narratives of P and his son continue as they try to figure out who they are and where they come from, and require the reader to fill in blanks by making their own connections. For P, the biggest issue is escaping to someplace safe. For his son, it is filling in the blanks in his own life by learning more about who is father is, or has been. P remains full of mysteries, largely because one never knows whether he is telling the whole truth about the things we do know about him.

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A few days ago, I listed the most popular reviews on this site for 2019. These reviews reflect the number of hits a review receives when a reader searches for a particular review on this site. They are not necessarily reviews of my personal favorites. Here are some of my own favorite books of special interest, books with unique points of view, with links to the full reviews. The list begins with a book that I have found the most inspiring book of the year, one written by a man in prison for life for something he did not do, but in which, amazingly, he maintains his good humor and does not descend into self-pity.

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A few days ago, I listed the most popular reviews on this site for 2019. These reviews reflect the number of hits a review receives when a reader searches for a particular review on this site. They are not necessarily reviews of my personal favorites. Here are some of my own favorite books of special interest, books with unique points of view, with links to the full reviews. The list begins with a book that I have found the most inspiring book of the year, one written by a man in prison for life for something he did not do, but in which, amazingly, he maintains his good humor and does not descend into self-pity.

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NOTE: Each year I like to see which reviews are the most popular on this website, and each year I find some surprises. Because the site ranks books and reviews by their total number of hits, older books which have been on the site for a long time have had more opportunity to accumulate many hits. Newer books tend to be far down in the list, with a few lucky ones eventually making it to the Top 25 as the years pass. Here is the list some of the old favorites which have been in the Top 25 for five or more years. Newer books which are performing particularly well and may one day become Top 25 Books are listed separately following the “oldies.” #1 overall: Favel Parett’s PAST THE SHALLOWS, a family drama set in Tasmania. On the list since 2014 when the review was posted, this book seems to be the #1 book every time I check the DAILY stats, and it makes me wonder if this family drama cover-ru-197x300set on the southernmost island at the end of the Australian continent is being taught in the schools in Australia andTasmania. It has more than seven times the number of hits of any other book listed here, including all the books and reviews here for Jo Nesbo’s work! Other surprises appear. #9. Jo Nesbo’s latest (and I think best) thriller, THE KNIFE, concerns the death of someone close to Harry Hole, with beautifully developed themes, flawless pacing, intriguing and repeating subordinate characters, imaginative plotting, unrelenting dark atmosphere, and plot twists – one after another – after another. From August 2019. (#20 on the overall list, though the review has been posted for only four months. Look for this one to be in the Top Ten overall next year.)

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Awaking in an Istanbul hospital after jumping from the Bosphorus Bridge in a failed suicide attempt, young blues singer-musician Boratin has no memory of his life – or why he chose suicide as a way out. The bridge is five hundred feet high, and fewer than a handful of people have survived the jump since the bridge was built in the early 1970s. Boratin is one of the “lucky” ones – only one rib is broken. His biggest problem is that he has total amnesia. He does not recognize his own face in the mirror, has no memory of his own name, knows no one who visits him, and has no past. Almost plotless, this short novel recreates the ultimate crisis of identity as it happens to a twenty-eight-year-old musician, who obviously had problems before his jump off the Bosphorus Bridge. As Boratin tries to figure out who he is so he can revisit his past and perhaps connect it to a new present, the author raises many questions about time, place, history, philosophy, psychology, life, death, and the desire of people to relate to each other in positive ways. The novel’s progress through short episodes, and the reactions of Boratin to them, allow the reader to identify with him, and through him to see some of life’s grandest themes through a completely new point of view. The extent to which the past controls the present, and the present controls the future take on new meaning in this remarkable novel.

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