Yes, it is a steaming hot summer, and some of us may be escaping to the beach, to the hills – or further afield (personally, I am thinking longingly of Arctic ice right now – although I hear it’s melting..) Whatever you are doing, summer is a good time for good reading sessions. My neighborhood bookstore, Bookophilia, has an eclectic selection of adult’s and children’s books. Here I am posting their short reviews of two titles they have picked out, for your interest. Now, when was the last time you lost yourself in a book?
Bookophilia is at 92 Hope Road, Kingston 6. Tel: 978-5248 On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @Bookophilia
Title(s): Hear the Wind Sing / Pinball, 1973
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genre: Fiction – Realist
Average Reading Time: 1-4 days // Pages: 232
Demographic: Ages 17+
Japanese Haruki Murakami’s first novels, written at his kitchen table in the late 70’s challenge any view that foreign literature fails to connect with audiences outside of their geographical realm. The novels, which are ahead of their time, present the idea that language has no barrier when conveying the familiarity that is the intricate human experience. Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 are published as one volume due to their overlap of characters, despite their independence as novellas.
Hear the Wind Sing takes place within eighteen days in 1970 Tokyo where the narrator is spending his summer vacation, reporting on his interactions with his friends and women accompanied by continued loneliness, longing and dissatisfaction. Murakami’s tone is sombre yet humorous as he illustrates his observations about the patterns of life. This novel felt like a philosophy class in itself, analyzing the meaning of life and the complexity of living.
Pinball, 1973 has a similar tone with different content, the slower and more earnest of the two novellas. In Pinball, the narration fluctuates between the stories of unnamed narrator from Hear the Wind Sing living with two women and obsessing over finding a beloved Pinball machine and a man by the name of Rat who’s experience with frustration and malaise is worth noting. This second novel of the series, because it is a segue to the following novels: A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance, can feel inconclusive while reading and lacking in terms of plot in comparison to the first. Nevertheless, the importance of the characters’ emotional journey is conveyed and never lost in translation.
Prior to reading, I had no expectations about the author and read merely out of curiosity about the duality – yet I can safely say I was blown away. The language in these novels is simplistic with great depth, allowing it to be an easy, invaluable read. The two are narrated, for the most part, by the same unidentified persona who melts the sugar coat around humanity and lays down the heavy, necessary truths. For this reason, Murakami is an imperative read and his philosophical discourse identifies the constant struggle within all of us in search of the unknowable.
Title(s): Are Prisons Obsolete?
Author: Angela Davis
Genre: Non-fiction – Politics
Price: $1686.00 JMD
Average Reading Time: 1-2 days // Pages: 115
Demographic: Ages 16+
The recent frenzy over prison shows around the world, specifically Orange is the New Black and Prison Break has sparked a necessary debate about the corruption which lies beneath the system of incarceration in the Western world. Though Are Prisons Obsolete? was written over 10 years ago, the conversation Davis presents is still as relevant as ever. Her style of writing is non-argumentative yet nevertheless unarguably persuasive.
Davis uses only 115 pages to get anyone even slightly curious about the prison system to be enthralled, enraged and prepared to make a change. She begins by addressing the way in which most people envision the system and challenges the validity of it by explaining the layers upon layers of injustice and oppression. This includes the rampant sexist and racist undertones which subtly yet surely result in a framework which fails in all moral realms.
The book must hold a place in social justice junkies’ sacred texts as it discusses almost every pressing societal issue and urges for a change in the state of affairs. Many people find empathizing with prisoners difficult considering they have committed crimes, many heinous in nature. Despite this, Davis’ presentation of the excruciating truth about the prison industrial complex appeals, hopefully, to all readers with a fully functioning conscience.