Over the last 10 days, I have hardly read. I finished Jacob Ross’ Black Rain Falling (excellent, absolutely excellent) and since then: nothing. I am depressed and quite badly so at the moment and for the most part of the day, when I am not working, I sort of just stare into space unable to settle on anything.
So here I am blogging, mainly because writing a blog post is a tangible thing that I did, when I mostly feel that I don’t achieve anything. Who would have thought that I’d use blogging as some sort of coping mechanism…
Anyway, let’s talk about the arcs that I have and what my thoughts are, why I requested them and that hopefully will inspire me to sit down and read some. I know it will make me feel better, so here it goes.
Die Bagage by Monika Helfer
It’s an autobiographical historical fiction novel which was nominated for the Austrian Book Prize and is currently on the shortlist. The prize will be announced in November. I doubt I will read it before then, because this month I am only reading books by Black Authors (well, currently not reading… but hey). It is set in rural Austria in a mountain village. While the father of the family is fighting in a war, the mother has a liason with an incomer that leads to a pregnancy and so the mother of the author is born. I am a sucker for these kind of stories, set in rural Austria or Germany, questions of belonging etc. It sounds like my thing.
Herzklappen von Johnson & Johnson by Valerie Fritsch
This book is slightly out of my comfort zone if I am totally honest. I don’t often read fiction with a medical theme. It either frightens me (we all have our personal horrors) or I am worried it pushes towards the melodramatic. I don’t think the latter will happen here, but I am still unsure how I will react to the book. Longlisted for the German Book Prize.
Putzt Euch, tanzt, lacht by Karin Peschka
Another provincial story. A mixture of grief and mental health, the claustrophobia of rural life, the lack of options – it’s like she took all the things I am fascinated by and wrote a novel.
Streulicht by Deniz Ohde
Don’t worry, dear English reader, I will also share books in English. Deniz Ohde was also on the German Book Prize longlist and it’s another “working class narrative”. It’s a story of a mother abandoning the family though, so, those are always tricky for me. Still, I am willing to give it a go.
The Mountains Sing by Que Mai Phan Nguyen
A Vietnamese family generational story exploring the impact of war and the devastation it has reverberating through the generations. I am always interested in these stories, I think we yet understand very little on how trauma is passed down the generations and it is something I am interested in.
Why the Germans do it better by John Kampfner
I started it in September, but put it aside for Black History Month but I am keen to continue. I have often issues with this type of book, because in my mind this kind of superlative does not apply to any country and certainly not to my home country. Despite the fact, that I think that there is a lot that Germany does well, I doubt this kind of generalised statement applies. I am curious to see if he picks up on this and how. I think the comparison is with the UK in general, so it will be fascinating to see how much I nod along, too.
Das Palais muss brennen by Mercedes Spannagel
A debut novel described as a reckoning with the right wing elite in Austria. I am here for it. A friend of mine read it and said it was incredibly funny (am I the only one who goes through life thinking that Austrian humour is definitely the best humour?)
Homecoming by Colin Grant
A series of interviews with men and women who came from the West Indies to Britain in the 1940s – 1960s. I heard great things about this book. I am particularly interested in how people arrived were treated here in Birmingham, so I hope there are several accounts in this book from the Midlands.
How we met by Huma Qureshi
Huma grew up in Walsall, here in the Midlands so that is the main reason, I wanted to read this book. As much as I don’t feel at home here at all, I am still seeking out “local” stories. Go figure.
Which one should I read first?