Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.
A strangely hazy day may be the reason the library was packed this Saturday afternoon. Or maybe it was just the various events that seemed to be going on… Didn’t stay long, just grabbed my holds and returned some books!
Empress – Shan Sa (translated by Adriana Hunter)
After reading GGK’s Under Heaven, I was curious to see what else has been written, fiction-wise, about the Tang Dynasty.
This also fits into the Global Women of Colour challenge, and my goal to read more translated works in February.
A ravishing historical novel of one of China’s most controversial historical figures: its first and only female emperor, Empress Wu, who emerged in the Tang Dynasty and ushered in a golden age. In seventh-century China, during the great Tang dynasty, a young girl from the humble Wu clan entered the imperial gynaecium, which housed ten thousand concubines. Inside the Forbidden City, she witnessed seductions, plots, murders, and brazen acts of treason. Propelled by a shrewd intelligence, an extraordinary persistence, and a friendship with the imperial heir, she rose through the ranks to become the first Empress of China. On the one hand, she was a political mastermind who quelled insurrections, eased famine, and opened wide the routes of international trade. On the other, she was a passionate patron of the arts who brought Chinese civilization to unsurpassed heights of knowledge, beauty, and sophistication.
And yet, from the moment of her death to the present day, her name has been sullied, her story distorted, and her memoirs obliterated by men taking vengeance on a women who dared become Emperor. For the first time in thirteen centuries, Empress Wu flings open the gates of her Forbidden City and tells her own astonishing tale-revealing a fascinating, complex figure who in many ways remains modern to this day
Bodour, a distinguished literary critic and university professor, carries with her a dark secret. As a young university student, she fell in love with a political activist and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Zeina, whom she abandoned on the streets of Cairo.
Zeina grows up to become one of Egypt’s most beloved entertainers, despite being deprived of a name and a home. In contrast, Bodour remains trapped in a loveless marriage, pining for her daughter. In an attempt to find solace she turns to literature, writing a fictionalized account of her life. But when the novel goes missing, Bodour is forced on a journey of self discovery, reliving and reshaping her past and her future.
Will Bodour ever discover who stole the novel? Is there any hope of her being reunited with Zeina?
Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet – Xinran, translated from the Chinese by Julia Lovell and Esther Tyldesley
For the Global Women of Colour challenge, and my goal to read more translated works in February.
It was 1994 when Xinran, a journalist and the author of The Good Women of China, received a telephone call asking her to travel four hours to meet an oddly dressed woman who had just crossed the border from Tibet into China. Xinran made the trip and met the woman, called Shu Wen, who recounted the story of her thirty-year odyssey in the vast landscape of Tibet.
Shu Wen and her husband had been married for only a few months in the 1950s when he joined the Chinese army and was sent to Tibet for the purpose of unification of the two countries. Shortly after he left she was notified that he had been killed, although no details were given. Determined to find the truth, Shu Wen joined a militia unit going to the Tibetan north, where she soon was separated from the regiment. Without supplies and knowledge of the language, she wandered, trying to find her way until, on the brink of death, she was rescued by a family of nomads under whose protection she moved from place to place with the seasons and eventually came to discover the details of her husband’s death.
In the haunting Sky Burial, Xinran has recreated Shu Wen’s journey, writing beautifully and simply of the silence and the emptiness in which Shu Wen was enveloped. The book is an extraordinary portrait of a woman and a land, each at the mercy of fate and politics. It is an unforgettable, ultimately uplifting tale of love loss, loyalty, and survival.
The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) – Kazu Kibuishi
I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now! Can’t wait!
Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.
Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.
Thunderhead Underground Falls – Joel Orff
I enjoyed Orff’s Waterwise recently and was pleased to spot his other graphic novel on the shelf!
Joel Orff’s graphic novel Thunderhead Underground Falls tells the story of Jack, a young army reservist who has one weekend left before shipping out for combat in the Middle East. He and a friend find themselves behind the wheel of his parent’s car, driving farther and farther west into a snowy landscape. The book is an impressionistic exploration of Jack’s flight from his future, as well as an exploration of this place that he’s pledged his life to fight for. Jack and his friends want to experience the simple freedom of taking a drive, of seeing familiar things before his outlook is changed forever by the violence that he knows he will soon face. As the hours go by, Jack begins to consider desertion, but he knows that if he stays to hold onto the life that he knows, it will still be changed forever.
Daybreak – Brian Ralph
Happened to chance upon this graphic novel that is touted as an art-house take on the zombie genre. Sounds interesting enough.
You wake up in the rubble and see a ragged, desperate one-armed man greeting you. He takes you underground to a safe space, feeds you, offers you a place to sleep. And then announces that he’ll take the first watch. It’s not long before the peril of the jagged landscape has located you and your newfound protector and is scratching at the door. What transpires is a moment-to-moment struggle for survival—The Road meets Dawn of the Dead. Daybreak is seen through the eyes of a silent observer as he follows his protector and runs from the shadows of the imminent zombie threat. Brian Ralph slowly builds the tension of the zombies on the periphery, letting the threat—rather than the actual carnage—be the driving force. The postapocalyptic backdrop features tangles of rocks, lumber, I beams, and overturned cars that are characters in and of themselves.
Ralph’s stunning debut was the wordless graphic novel Cave-In, created while he was one of the founding members of the influential Fort Thunder art collective. Drawing inspiration from zombies, horror movies, television, and first-person shooter video games, Daybreak departs from zombie genre in both content and format, achieving a living-dead masterwork of literary proportions.
Red Scarf Girl – Jiang Ji-li
Think I’ve been neglecting my non-fiction reading!
It’s 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, tons of friends, and a bright future in Communist China. But it’s also the year that China’s leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li’s world begins to fall apart. Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant terror of arrest. When Ji-li’s father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life.
This is the true story of one girl’s determination to hold her family together during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century.
Chu is a little panda with a big sneeze.
When Chu sneezes, bad things happen.
Will Chu sneeze today?
What did you get from your library this week?