What’s On The Bookshelf: Books fresh off the press
Four books that will take you on a journey around the world…
March is celebrated as the Month of Reading in the UAE – which is great news for our lovely friends at the Emirates Literature Foundation as they will embrace any given opportunity to read more. The team are sharing their best picks this week setting their sights on some of the most noteworthy reads of 2022.
The book selection is fresh off the press and will take readers on a journey around the world, through times and across genres as they peruse these diverse tales steeped in historical fictional, political drama and family saga.
The Dictator’s Wife by Freya Berry
The Dictator’s Wife is Marija, widow of recently deceased Constantin Popa, the former dictator of Yanussia. The story follows her fall from beloved ‘Little Mother of the nation’ to ‘Black Widow’. The narrator is a young British woman, Laura Lăzărescu, who is a part of the legal team defending Marija from charges of complicity and crime, and wrestling with her own personal demons.
The premise of the book, uncovering the role and responsibility of the women behind powerful (corrupt) men, is great, and the execution is flawless. It is a complex, thought-provoking debut and one that leaves us itching to read more by Freya Berry.
To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
As fans of Hanya Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life, we found it difficult to keep our expectations low for her latest book, and To Paradise does not disappoint.
It is a tale rooted in an alternative version of America and divided into three sections that span three centuries in the same Manhattan residence and with characters sporting the same name. It starts in 1893 in a Free State where people may love whomever they please and takes us from a 1993 world afflicted with widespread diseases, to 2093 where health and climate emergencies have paved the way for totalitarian rule.
A long book but an entrancing one that provokes the reader to think hard about the search for love in changing times.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
Another debut that raises the bar with its beautiful storyline and engaging characters is this multi-generational tale about a family in the Caribbean.
Estranged siblings, Byrin and Benny, come together to deal with the death of their mother, Eleanor. They are at the receiving end of a puzzling inheritance: an 8-hour voice recording about love, betrayal and family secrets and a traditional black cake is supposed to help heal the wounds of the past.
The book cover drew us in, but we stayed for the story. Written in a short chapter format and with alternating narratives created a momentum that made this an inhale-in-one-session book for us.
A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe
The year is 1966 and 19-year-old William Lavery is celebrating becoming qualified as an embalmer at his first black-tie do. But the evening takes a downturn with the news of a landslide that has buried a school, Aberfan. Seeing this as an opportunity to prove himself, William volunteers his services to recover the bodies. It will be his first job as an embalmer and one he never forgets.
Fair warning, this is not a happy book, but it is a hopeful book. It touches upon loss, sadness, grief and heartache but also about compassion and healing – a reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
If you enjoyed this week’s recommended reads by Emirates Literature Foundation, then you should check out their blog for more literary news, views, and reviews. Make sure you like and subscribe to their social media and YouTube to receive literary gold like behind-the-scenes, author interviews and full sessions from the recently concluded 14th annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Also tune in to its bi-monthly podcast, the Boundless Book Club, for great conversations about books and authors from their team and their very special guests.