Author: Sinan Antoon
Title: I’jaam : an Iraqi rhapsody
Publication Info: San Francisco : City Lights, c2007.
Summary/Review: This short book is set in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and purports to be the memoir of a student who ends up as a political prisoner. The conceit of the novel is that the i’jaam – dots added to Arabic script – have been left off leading to ambiguous (and presumably comical) meanings to some of the words, but even the author gets tired of this after a while. I wasn’t too impressed by this book as it seemed to be trying to be too avant guarde without really delivering.
Recommended books: A Sky So Close: A Novel by Betool Khedairi
Author: Colum McCann
Title: Let the Great World Spin
I can’t say enough good things about this novel. Each chapter tells the story of one person in New York on and around the day that Phillipe Petit crosses the gap between the Twin Towers on a wire. McCann really brings the voices and stories and the personal drama of their everyday lives to life. At the end of each chapter I was sad to see that characters story gone and have to read about someone else, but McCann won me over again and again. McCann also does a good job of showing how these very different people are connected to one another in ways both profound and tentative. This will definitely go on my best books of the year list.
Recommended books: New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg by Marshall Berman and Netherland by Joseph O’Neill