Oh William! Elizabeth Strout

With Oh William! author Elizabeth Strout has written another story around one of her literary characters Lucy Barton. In this book, Lucy is a successful writer living in New York navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to her two adult daughters Chrissy and Becka. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband - and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidant. Lucy tells the reader in this novel about their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people. It is a portrait of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.

A Coin for the Ferryman Megan Edwards

I enjoyed myself immensely while reading A Coin for the Ferryman. While attending high school, I had my fair share of Latin and Greek. The Roman Empire and the start of Christianity had a prominent place during my time at university studying religion. A Coin for the Ferryman combines the historical figure of Julius Caesar with contemporary Las Vegas, crime and romance.

Gone, a girl, a violin, a life unstrung. Min Kym

In this column I would like to draw attention to a memoir about a violin virtuoso whose instrument is stolen. Its title is “Gone” with subtitle “a girl, a violin, a life unstrung” and it is written by Min Kym. Most violinists consider Antonio Stradivari to be the most famous violinmaker. He was born in 1644 in Cremona, Italy. Every solo violinist would like to play on a Stradivari violin. But there are only 450 Stradivari violins left. Min Kym, born in South Korea and raised in the UK, began playing the violin at the age of six. At twenty-one, she found the violin she would play as a soloist, a Stradivari from 1696. Her career took off. Then, while drinking a cup of coffee with a friend in a London café, her violin was stolen.

Mr Wilder & Me. Jonathan Coe

As part of our preparation for the next season we have been reading a great number of books, and then at some point we need to decide which books make it to the final round, the writing of a complete reader guide. Mr Wilder & Me was one of my favourites that did not make it through the final discussion. There are the obvious questions, such as, is there enough material in the book to promote discussions? I would say yes in the case of Jonathan Coe’s book, especially since it is also a book about the film career of Billy Wilder in the form of a novel. However, this is disadvantageous these days as we tend to concentrate on “pure literature”. And I think you readers deserve more. So, this is not a standard short review, but more of an advertisement for both Jonathan Coe’s book and the filmmaker Billy Wilder.

The Island of Missing Trees. Elif Shafak

Young Ada has recently lost her mother Defne. Her father Kostas tries to make the best of it, but risks losing his connection with his daughter. Fortunately, Ada's mother's sister Meryem appears on the scene. In the garden is a fig tree. And not just any fig tree. In The Island of Missing Trees, Elif Shafak tells the story of Kostas and Defne, a love story between a Greek boy and a Turkish girl on the island of Cyprus. The story is largely set during the turmoil of the 1970s, which was followed by the division of the island into a Greek and a Turkish part.

Afterlives. Abdulrazak Gurnah

In this column I would like to draw attention to Abdulrazak Gurnah. Abdulrazak Gurnah is a Tanzanian writer who lives and works in the United Kingdom. He was born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar (now part of present-day Tanzania) in 1948. Afterlives has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for political writing 2021 and longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2021.