My grandfather was born in Hreljin in 1923, when it was Yugoslavia and in what is now Croatia. When I heard about Yugoslavian Ivo Andric’s 1945 novel The Bridge on the Drina, I had hoped for a glimpse of what life was like in my ancestor’s homeland during a tumultuous time. Although my grandfather’s home

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (published 1970, reissued in ebook form by OpenRoad Media) is an incredibly painful book to read. It is a straight-forward historical account of the last three decades of Native American Indians in the American West, an account of the great leaders and cultures that are no

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Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto1 blends two stories of seeking for one’s identity in the midst of war-torn Mozambique. In the first, an old man and a young orphaned boy have fled a refugee camp and seek shelter in a burned-out bus on the side of the road. Near a corpse, they find a set

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I wish I could finish off my series of posts on Henry VI with as much enthusiasm as I had for the second play, but 3 Henry VI (written 1595) was simply not as enjoyable as 2 Henry VI was. In the first place, 3 Henry VI is simply violent from the first scene, when

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As I began reading The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway(2008), it seemed so familiar, but I couldn’t place why. I finally figured it out: it reads like a dystopian novel, where people are struggling to survive in an oppressive war environment. The characters in the book struggle just to get the basic necessities of

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Germinal by Emile Zola (first published in French, 1885) is so much more than I can capture in a summary or in an opinion post or review or whatever it is I write. Germinal is 500 pages that immersed me in a world of starving and ill people in an obscure mining town living a

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In her personal journal to God, young Celie tries to make sense of the incestuous rape she’s experiencing from her Pa. A few pages later, she tries to make sense of the unhappy marriage she’s thrust in to. For Celie, life entails hard work, submission, violence, and daily rapes from her (nameless) husband. Does that

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Although I didn’t love Jazz as much as I loved Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I found it to have a similar depth. I know such depth requires me to reread it in order to truly sum up the main point of the novel. Because I’ve only read it once, I’m somewhat stumped as I go to

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Although I do not like reading violent stories, one of my favorite books has such a poignant message that I love it regardless, or maybe because of, the brutal facts is illustrates. In Beloved by Toni Morrison, the ghosts of slavery live on, even though it is the year 1873. In one sense, Beloved is

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The narrator of Alice Sebold’s first novel, The Lovely Bones, is dead. Meet Susie. Susie Salmon was 14 when she was brutally raped and murdered in a cornfield near her home. Now, as her family recovers and learns to live again, she watches them from her gazebo in her heaven and begins to come to

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