Read This details book selections by local authorities, luminaries, institutions, and locals that share deep affections for the written word. This week, we asked Zoe Grams, Arielle Spence, and Clea Young of the Vancouver Writers Fest to give us four titles that would sweeten our winter break…
1. Lanark, by Alasdair Gray, Canongate Classics
Recommended by Zoe Grams | As its subtitle “A Life in Four Books” suggests, Lanark explores the various, difficult stages of life for its title character from the tenement slums of Glasgow to another, parallel world of grubby cities, politics and love affairs. Historic realism meets sci-fi, this debut novel caused Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) to hail its author as the finest Scottish novelist since Sir Walter Scott. Lanark will remain with you, leaving behind both a desperate sadness and conquering celebration of humanity.
2. The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro, Knopf Canada
Recommended by Arielle Spence | “Is it not better for some things to remain hidden from our minds?” So says a monk to Axl and Beatrice, the elderly protagonists of The Buried Giant. It’s also one of the questions that Ishiguro poses to readers in this exquisitely crafted and enthralling novel, which follows the married couple on a journey to find their grown son, whom they have mysteriously forgotten. As Axl and Beatrice are forced to take various detours, and eventually become entangled in the political struggles of post-Arthurian era England, I too felt like I was being led on a journey with an unknown destination, all the while completely trusting in Ishiguro’s ability to tell a fantastic story.
3. The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri, Vintage Canada
Recommended by Clea Young | Jumpa Lahiri knows that strong characters are the lifeblood of any story, in this case the two brothers at the heart of her family saga, The Lowland. Coming of age in a Calcutta neighbourhood in the 1960s, Subhash is timid while his younger brother Udayan is daring. These temperaments inform the paths they take as young men, with Udayan joining the Naxalite rebellion against poverty and inequality, and Subhash traveling to America for school. From this point their lives diverge and a tragic tale, one that that moves effortlessly between continents and across generations, unfolds.
The Vancouver Writers Fest is a celebration of story, told by authors, poets, spoken word performers, and graphic novelists. Each October we present 6 days of events on Granville Island for readers of all interests – readings, interviews, discussions and performances –with 100+ acclaimed and emerging writers from around the world.