Friday, August 31, 2007

Nobel Prize-Winning Novelists

As part of my long-anticipated post-retirement reading program, I've begun to seek out and read works by Nobel Prize winning novelists whose work I hadn't previously read. Over the past few months, I've read the following:

1968 -- Yasunari Kawabata, Thousand Cranes

1978 -- Isaac Bashevis Singer, Satan in Goray and The Magician of Lublin

1988 -- Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley, The Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street), and Arabian Nights and Days

2001 -- V. S. Naipaul, The Mystic Masseur, Miguel Street, and A House for Mr. Biswas

2006 -- Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red


Blogger Harry said...

Are you going to tell us what you think?

2:48 AM  
Blogger Hedgie said...

Okay, I'll try to get some brief comments up later today.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Really, I'm just always looking for book recommendations :)

12:48 PM  
Blogger Hedgie said...

Okay, specifically for recommendations, while I'd recommend all of these, I especially liked (and would therefore recommed) Pamuk's My Name Is Red, a fascinating novel of the collision of Western and Islamic cultures in the early 17th century which is presented in terms of the conflicting views of European Renaissance/Baroque art and Islamic traditional art. It's also a murder mystery told from multiple viewpoints. If it has a particular weakness, it's that there's perhaps a bit too much reiterated discussion of the respective merits of European and Islamic art which seems to cover the same ground a little more than necessary. Still, I quite enjoyed it.

Likewise, I really liked Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy, even though it's the kind of work I normally don't much care for: a multi-generational family epic covering covering the period in egyptian history between roughly the "first revolution" (in 1919) and the overthrow of the British-established monarchy and the coming into power of Nassar in 1952. (It helps to look up at least a brief outline of Egyptian history; Wikipedia has one that's adequate). It gives a remarkable view of traditional Islamic family life of the time (and still, from what I understand). I also really like Arabian Nights and Days, a very different work which is actually a sequel to the traditional 1001 Arabian Nights and deals with what happens to the sultan to whom Scheherazade told her stories after she's done so; it's a very unusual novel, fairly violent but inventive and fascinating.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Cool, I'll put them o the list.

11:45 PM  

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