Inbox/Outbox: August 4, 2017

Typically I hear about rainy weather as the ideal weather to stay inside reading. But there’s nothing that says reading to me like humid, soupy weather. Once it hits this time of year, you’d be hard pressed to find me doing much besides reading in front of the A/C. Is that just me? Here’s what my well-cooled reading week has looked like.

INBOX (BOOKS ACQUIRED)

Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin

I picked this up at the bookstore because I recognized the trademark NYRB Classics spine, and when I saw the description on the back included “coming-of-age story” and “lesbian narrator,” I didn’t even need to finish reading the description to decide whether or not to buy it.

Grimus by Salman Rushdie

I’ve owned and been meaning to read Midnight’s Children for years, but it’s kind of intimidated me. So I think I’m going to try to work up to it. My local bookstore had signed copies of Grimus, Rushdie’s first novel about a man who receives the gift of immortality after drinking a magical elixir, so that seemed like a perfect place to start.

OUTBOX (BOOKS FINISHED)

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

Fellow Rioter Rebecca Hussey wrote about the “memoir and more” genre, “books that have elements of memoir mixed with other genres: history, philosophy, sociology, science.” I love that term and the genre, and The Lonely City is another great example of it. Olivia Laing combines her personal experiences with the life stories of artists like Edward Hopper and Greta Garbo and situates them in the larger social and cultural context of cities, especially New York City in different eras. It was such a well-written, brilliant combination, and I’m definitely going to check out Laing’s other books now.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

In 1980s New York, 14-year-old June’s uncle Finn, a renowned painter, dies of AIDS, but not before he finishes one last painting, a portrait of June and her sister. The stories of June, the painting, and Finn’s remaining partner combine to create a moving tale of love and grief. It was really touching without being melodramatic, and if you’re a sucker for coming-of-age stories like I am, you’ll definitely want to read this one.

IN THE QUEUE (WHAT I’M READING NEXT)

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

I usually like to have a short story collection going on the side of whatever main fiction or nonfiction book I’m currently reading, and this one is up next after I heard about it on All the Books. I read the first page and already found Arimah’s writing gripping and evocative, so I’m looking forward to this.

Human Acts by Han Kang

Is it wrong that the recent kerfuffle around Deborah Smith’s translation of The Vegetarian by Han Kang, which I had read previously and loved, made me more curious, not less, about reading Kang’s other work? Human Acts, which is also translated by Deborah Smith, is a novel split into seven parts (one even including the author herself), each of which focuses on a different character who is connected to the murder of a 15-year-old boy during the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea. It sounds like it will have the same unflinching gaze and brutality that had me hooked on The Vegetarian, and I’m curious to see what I think of it on my own before anything more possibly comes out about Deborah Smith’s accuracy as a translator.

What’s in your inbox/outbox this week?

Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, and Robin Sloan recommend their favorite books in our newest podcast, Recommended. Download it for free from Apple Podcasts or Google Play.
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