Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Tiger's Wife (global reading challenge #1) + reading with the web

The Tiger’s Wife is a complex read. It's set in former Yugoslavia, a country I visited years ago, on a summer trip. I still remember how unreal it felt when war started there some years later, and refugees arrived here in Germany - while young man who had family there went to join whichever side their family belonged to.

The book avoids the direct taking of sides by using fictional names for the places. To encompass the different "worlds" (before the war, during the war, after the war), the narrative crosses and connects different timelines. In addition to the timelines, the story itself changes from present narrative, to connected family stories of the past, to fairy-tale-like parts, and then back - it's a carpet of story altogether. Not all connects, some edges of the stories remain broken, missed, unsolved – and reading it I thought, that’s what war does. Making stories unwhole. Leaving open edges. Refusing the ending answers, the conclusion, the neat roundup.

Reading challenge + political/geographical notes:
The book was a chance find: I came across this book in the most unlikely of places: in Spain, on a beach supermarket shelf. Unsure if to by it, i looked for an online review - that's how i came across a book blog from the UK (savidge reads), which i recently revisited. Following a link from there, i arrived at a “global reading challenge”. The task: to expand ones reading boundaries by reading a novel from each continent in 2012. I blogged about it below, with my continental booklist of 2011: books by continents. The Tiger's Wife now is my first official reading challenge book.

And following the theme of borders and boundaries: the map above is from my old school book. In it, Yugoslavia is still 1 counry: "Jugoslawien", just like Czechosolovakia ("Tscheslowakai), and like Russia. While Germany is still 2 countries in relating blue colors: "Bundesrepublik Deutschland" and "DDR". Makes you realize how things changed in the last 30 years. And how lucky any country is that makes it through a split or a reunion without war.


reading with the web
at Leipzig Book Fair this year, one of the continuing focus themes was: e-books, and the additional content the publisher is able to offer in this format. like with film dvds and the extras they include. only that this isn't really something that is super-new and extraordinary, not even for the good old printed books - that's what i thought last week, and this week again. as in our time, it's simple to get additional content for almost every book: just do a quick web-search. and then see what comes up - in my case, a web of links first, and an additional book next. here the stories and the links:

Tiger Savidge Space
it was while in Spain that i came across Teá Obreth "The Tiger's Wife" in a beach supermarket shelf while looking for other things. i was drawn to the book, yet unsure - so i first checked the web for reviews. and found some interesting book blogs after reading a book review at Savidge Reads, a blog i hadn't known before. in addition to the review, the most current blog post on Savidge Reads was on book blogs, publishers and perceptions. interesting theme itself, but even more interesting are the book blogs links there and in the Guardian article and comments. here's a quick starter list - with each blog leading to more book blogs in the sidebar.

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