Thursday, 9 April 2020

Review of "Guns and Saffron" by Alif - Two Muslim young men in India have to choose for goodness or for illegal things

Someone I know is from Pakistan and is always spewing hatred about India. And although I understand the background - his family lost all during the Partition and was kicked out of India - I once told him I was sick of hearing that and he had to stop. But with this in mind and as I had liked the first novel by Alif a lot I picked up this novel to read and review.

The novel is about two young Muslim men who grow up in predominantly Hindu India and that is definitely not easy. While one is nurtured in a poor but loving environment (a loving grandmother, a caring Christian boss, a motherly Sikh cook), the other is raised by a terrorist uncle in a world of violence. One part of the story full of goodness and love and makes you smile, the other so sad you want to cry. But the author makes it clear that environment will form you but still one has one's own will to choose what road to take in life.

The characters - even the minor ones - are very three-dimensional. 

Large parts of the story read like reading a history book or attending a lecture about Indian politics. So you really need to be interested in that.. Speaking for myself I thought it an interesting read.

I will recommend it to my Pakistani friend.

Pub Date: 30 Jan 2020. Very low-priced!

4 stars out of 5

For  Kindle:

For Dutch E-readers

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Review of "A Single Swallow" by Zhang Ling - Three men and a Chinese girl bond during WW2 in China

On the eve of the surrender of Japan and thus the end of the second World War, three man are sitting toasting in a small village deep into China. One is an American Missionary who is almost 40, the others are almost half his age. One is an American soldier sent there to train Chinese recruits, the other is one of those Chinese who became an expert marksman. They make a solemn vow: when they will die their ghost will return to the village on the anniversary of this victory and wait for the other ghosts.

Soon after one of the ghosts arrives but it takes many decades until the friends are reunited again. They realise that a forth person is missing: the girl they all loved in their own special way. (I think as a father figure, a bosom friend and a lover)  They start to tell each other about their lives.

Most time is spend on the life of the young Chinese soldier thus creating the recent history of China. From the days that rural villages had only one scribe and people lacked decent shoes to a son in law who are now professors in America. That is maybe also because the book is written by someone originally from China.

It is translated from the original Chinese into English but the language still oozes foreign origins. Some sentences are real jewels

Although the part told by the dogs is sweet but it does not fit into the concept of a meeting in the 21st century as the dogs tell their ghost story in 1945.

I liked the glimpse into a for me foreign culture and a historic era. The story is divided amongst several people what makes it less easy to identify with one but I liked the Chinese soldier most. It is beautifully written and I liked the ending.

A story you will remember.

Reviewed this novel for Netgalley. It will be published

A great old adventure novel that got digitalised "Barbary slave" by Gardner Francis Fox

This week I found out that an old paperback novel had been digitalised and published online. Although the cover and the title suggest a lovestory for women it is an adventure novel with a male hero. Remember in the old days a romance was a romanza, an epic adventure by a hero.

The hero in this story is American lieutenant Stephen Fletcher of the Marines. When the naval ship he was posted on ran around in the sight of Tripoli during the US-Barbary states war in the beginning of the 19th century he is captured and sold as a slave in Tripoli.

When people discover he is a magnificent sword fighter he is bought by the pasha to guard the palace. The bash kedin, the chief wife of the ruler has other plans for him that might easily cost him his life. In the meantime someone is plotting to overthrow the pasha, has the pasha some secret warplans against the Americans, a woman needs saving and is an American fleet ready to attack the city.

The novel reminded me of the Hornblower books. Very well written. Good worldbuilding. He more or less paints the scenery for you. Then I found out the writer had worked in the comic books industry.

Amazon explains:" Gardner Francis Fox (1911 to 1986) was a wordsmith. He formerly was schooled as a lawyer. Rerouted by the depression, he joined the comic book industry in 1937. Writing and creating for the soon to be DC comics. Mr. Fox set out to create such iconic characters as the Flash and Hawkman. He is also known for inventing Batman‘s utility belt and the multi-verse concept.At the same time, he was writing for comic books, and he also contributed heavily to the paperback novel industry. Mr. Fox wrote in all of the genres; westerns, historical romance, sword & sorcery, intergalactic adventures, and even erotica."

a 5 star

A well written romance story "A dangerous man" by Rachel Cade

A black model and socialite meets a redneck white man when she gets into car trouble. Over a lot of dangerous situations they bond.