Lisa, over at ANZ LitLovers LitBlog continued a thread contributing to Six Degrees of Separation as inspired by Jenny (The Secret Son) Ackland and Kate at Books are My Favourite and Best. That prompted me for some reason to continue –
I’ll start with …
1. Voices from Chernobyl by the 2015 Nobel winner Svetlana Alexievich. It’s linked to Secondhand Time (the last on Lisa’s list) by author and the subject of the last days of the USSR. Voices from Chernobyl is an expose on the disaster and its effects on the population and entire country. I can easily go from there to Moscow and Amor Towles’ for my next “degree”:
2. A Gentleman in Moscow –by Amor Towles which is great stuff about a wonderful man under house arrest in a splendid Moscow hotel for a couple decades while the Revolution undergoes its changes. Then we go to –
3 I Hotel by Karen Yamashita (one of my best-of-year reads in 2011, prior to Webpage blog) which concerns a variety of characters all of whom live, or lived in, a hotel in San Francisco, a very real historical hotel. The fictional characters tend to be from the lower classes but politically involved in such things as the Black Power movement at UCSF, the Communist revolution (they fly to Moscow for a little bit), the Farm Workers Union, etc. And this book connects to … ta-da …
4 The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka in which immigrant Japanese women arrive in San Francisco in the early 20th century and are married to men already in the US who are waiting for them. These women often work in the fields until they are taken to internment camps of WWII. One interesting thing about this novel is that it is written in second person plural – “we” – from the point of view of the women as a group. And that brings me to
5 Agaat by Marlene van Neikerk which is about a dying woman in apartheid South Africa who owns a farm with many laborers (connection 1) Her maid/nurse has been with her for over 40 years and as Milla dies she remembers her past as well as Agaat’s . This is due in large part due to her old diaries. The point of view is usually or often singular second person – “you.” (connection 2). And the huge connection there is
6 Between the World and Me by Te-Nahisi Coates – non-fiction, a letter to black men (literary device is his son) – about the anger and fear felt by Coates due to US racism which allows “people who think they are white” to violate black bodies with impunity.