Kafez

Literary

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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Friday, 15 August 2008

The Books I Bought Today

I bought three books today. The first was Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun's This Blinding Absense of Love translated by Linda Coverdale and which won the IMPAC International Literary Prize in 2004; and the second, the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish's billingual collection of poetry translated by Fady Joudah and presented in a large chunky hardback that makes for The Butterfly's Burden.

I returned to my favourite bookseller in College Green Dublin and while it was a busy afternoon with tourists intent on guidebooks, Desmond did take me round the shelves as always with a couple of valuable recommendations. I asked for more Arab fiction and that would explain Jelloun who is known for his beautiful but very dark prose.

In this vein, since my passion for Arab literature has magnified itself so quickly, I have been reading Middle-eastern stories more voraciously then I have dared and am now used to the significantly painful themes of history and survival that map plots and tragic characters with brazen determination.

Unfortunately, I wish I had been a little more familiar with Darwish. The poet died last Saturday from heart complications in a Texas hospital and I could only scour fragments of his romantic writings, based on his motherland, on the web. Now, that problem is solved.

Of late, I've also gained a deeper affection for sleuth stories in print. I've always enjoyed British thrillers on the telly. For the first time, I entered Murder Ink, a quaint mystery/crime bookshop on Dawson Street. It's a decorative little store made inviting by a lively record playing Spanish music and the warm hospitality of a pleasant manager. There was such an avid collection of works from the classics to the contemporary, that while it was rather quiet, you did get at least a couple of customers popping in every few minutes, only to hurry out again with a favourite copy. The marvellous thing here is that if you enjoy a particular writer, you can more or less devour the complete series. I decided to try When Last I Died - a Mrs. Bradley mystery by British novelist Gladys Mitchell.

I am currently a quarter way through Vikas Swarup's Six Suspects. It's proving an engaging read; this fat thriller so handsomely padded by the comic ironies of an Indian population's eccentricities. Plus, the plot keeps getting funnier by the minute.

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