The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami 

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Recently unemployed, Toru Okada spends his time cooking, ironing shirts and napping. For a protagonist, he is rather quiet. However, when the sudden disappearance of his cat coincides with a plethora of peculiar phone calls, his life takes a serious turn for the strange.

From the ordinary to the fantastical, the known to the unknown, Murakami spins an odd yet compelling tale. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a story laced with thought provoking philosophies and mysterious imaginings. With a cacophony of characters, each bearing their own absorbing tales, some truly violent and unsettling, but all imbued with the strange nature that Murakami is famous for, there is ever a new surprise waiting to be revealed.

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The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga 

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008, The White Tiger tells the sorry truth about life for the vast population of India living in poverty. Through the relaxed and often humorous voice of its irreverent narrator, Balram Halwai, or ‘The White Tiger’ as he so aptly names himself, this novel traces the powerful and shocking revelations that shake one man’s very existence to the core.

From corrupt politicians and policeman, to the unrelenting nature of work for any who are even lucky enough to find it, The White Tiger looks beneath the shining buildings and growing economy seen by the rest of the world. As history has often shown, prosperity feeds off of poverty, a terrible aspect to life, but one which is certainly apparent in the brutal caste system of India.

 

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The Marble Collector, by Cecelia Ahern 

41qOJGK32EL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)Ahern’s twelfth novel, The Marble Collector is overall a light but enjoyable read. Ahern skillfully interlinks differing timelines and narratives, maintaining a level of intrigue throughout. What I found to be of particular enjoyment was her reflections on an Irish family living in near poverty during the 1970s. Ahern lends an interesting insight into a typical family filled with boys, where fighting and violence is abundant, but ever underlined with love.
The impressive levels of detail into marbles within the novel is also surprisingly interesting. In place of the modern-age technologically driven children’s toys, is a world of beautiful simplicity, offering a myriad of games, collections and enjoyment. From bloodies to Czech bullets, it’ll soon have you rooting through old drawers and putting those glass balls to some use other than a potential ‘Home Alone’ burglar trap.

 

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American Gods, by Neil Gaiman 

This is a strange but immersing novel, which pushes the limits of reality in a mesmerising way. Gaiman’s style is certainly fast paced, flitting from one peculiar yet absorbing scene to another. Whilst at first it is somewhat of a struggle to keep up, the very atmosphere of the novel keeps you yearning for more.


As is often a point of inspiration for Gaiman’s works, Norse mythology plays a prominent role in American Gods, alongside a plethora of historical myths from across the ages. This will leave any historically inclined readers eager for more. Gaiman intermixes the modern with the mythological in a truly compelling way, leaving no doubt that a God should be wolfing down a hamburger at a roadside restaurant, or conjuring a storm before the unseeing eyes of humanity. He lends a plaintive sincerity concerning the mythical and other-worldly that is both simultaneously confusing and compelling.

 

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A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

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A truly heartbreaking tale, A Thousand Splendid Suns bears the terrible plight for many women in Afghanistan. In equal mastery to his first bestselling novel The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini once more immerses his readers in the world of his homeland. His deep knowledge of the country opens its customs and ways for all to see, as well as its violent history.

The political backdrop of the latter twentieth century is lent a new light in this novel, as Mariam and Laila, amongst millions of others, witness the tragic plight of Afghanistan during these years. The distant, factual atrocities known by many in the west are brought to life by Hosseini in terrifying ways, as the true horrors caused by the numerous wars Afghanistan has faced in modern history are displayed through the eyes of those living through them. But throughout the tragedies of the country at large, Hosseini lends an ever more powerful message – that for many women in Afghanistan, there simply is no peace in life.

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The Great Acceleration, by Robert Colville

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The world is moving fast. As technology is flung forwards in leaps and bounds, Colville considers the importance of the effects of ‘The Great Acceleration’ upon society, the individual and the government at large. In what is one of the most important books I have read to date, The Great Acceleration is an extensively researched and shockingly palpable account of our changing world.

 

For some time now the topic of technology and its effects upon society have been of great interest and pressing concern for me, as I’m sure it is for many who are tiredly rounding up phones at the dinner table. Colville’s work lends powerful insights into such concerns, interspersing entertaining wit with astounding examples of how his termed ‘Great Acceleration’ has and will continue to change modern life as we know it.

 

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In The Miso Soup, by Ryu Murakami 

 

Set in the dark night of Tokyo, In the Miso Soup is a short but disturbing thriller which will make you question the morals of humanity. The novel follows a relatively simple narrative, in which Kenji, a guide for tourists to Tokyo’s red light district, takes on a strange and unnerving new client, Frank. As tension gradually builds, Murakami truly immerses his reader into the gritty streets of Tokyo city.

At first, what did feel like a drawback to the novel was its apparent lack of much intuitive subtlety, with major plot points heavily emphasised and lingered upon (a style I usually find attributed to much of Japanese anime). However, as the novel progressed, another aspect to it became apparent, one which certainly intrigued and proved to provide substantial content for contemplation.

 

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