I've just gone through a whole slew of books.... I had a bit of holiday so had the chance to catch up on my reading. I enjoyed A History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewyczka which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize this year. I thought it was well-written and I particularly enjoyed the whole immigrant in the UK thing, even though Ukraine is as far from Nigeria as can be, but it's interesting to see that the general nosiness of the immigrant communities and the attempt to show up who is doing better than whom is constant. I suppose it's all about trying to convince each other (and ourselves) that the journey has been worth it.
Perhaps for similar reasons I'm enjoying Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni, an Iranian American talking about living as an Iranian in America and as an American in Iran. In her book, as she describes the difficulty of explaining to her Western media colleagues that the political situation in Iran is much more complex than simply classifying the reformists as the good guys and the more conservative ayatollahs as the bad guys, I am struck by the similarities with Nigeria. Our presidents tend to be type cast as either good guys or bad guys and it is difficult to explain why, for instance, the public isn't particularly enamoured of the current president, Olusegun Obasanjo despite his supposedly reformist anti corruption stance, to the bemusement of the Western media.
I also read the Jealous Ghost by A N Wilson, whose books I have generally enjoyed even if I do not always agree with his politics. It is apparently a homage to Henry James' A Turn of the Screw and reinvents James' story of a young woman who goes to a large country house to look after two children with tragic consequences in contemporary times. While I enjoyed the book, I must say (at the risk of being denounced by the literati) that I do not enjoy James.
I tried reading Washington Square many years ago and found it difficult and abandoned it. I thought that might have been because of my relative youth- I was about 10 then- but even now I have struggled with The Wings of a Dove. And I found Colm Toibin's much acclaimed The Master, the Booker shortlisted homage to James, the Toibin book I liked the least.
On a lighter and perhaps more frivolous note I have enjoyed Piers Morgan's account of his years as editor of The Mirror, one of the UK tabloid newspapers which like all the tabloids has a less than savoury reputation. I was quite surprised at the amount of alcohol he seemed to put away in the course of his editorial duties and the seemingly light hearted way in which he was appointed to his initial job by Rupert Murdoch.
I'm looking forward to October as there are a series of African literary events including a rare appearance in London by Chinua Achebe and a tour in which Chimamanda Adichie, Binyavanga Wainana , Alex Agyei-Agyiri and Lindsey Collen appear at various venues across the UK. Unfortunately because of work commitments I'm not sure if I will actually be able to attend any of the events which is a shame....