The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro 

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The Buried Giant immediately draws the reader into Ishiguro’s dreamlike world set within post-Roman Britain, where ogres and other creatures are common terrors for those who dwell there. The novel follows the narrative of an elderly couple, focusing on the strength of their marital bond throughout as they journey through surreal surroundings.

Ishiguro’s writing style is certainly unlike any I’ve read before. Clearly he is quite drawn to the chivalrous, charming nature of knights, accentuating this fairy tale style by contrasting it directly with the somewhat brutish nature of men. A strict level of politeness is likewise maintained within all interactions between the varied characters, respect clearly being a powerful part of Ishiguro’s post Roman, sword-wielding world. The simplest movements are considered as though coordinated moves in an elaborate dance, with great detail given to swordsmanship and stature. In this way Ishiguro created not just characters but truly heroic figures, an appropriate part for his fairy tale atmosphere.

 

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Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman 

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Kelman’s story takes the reader into the shoes of a young African boy starting school having migrated to London. The colloquialisms and typical slang used throughout offer a realistic perspective of London life for the young, and how a naïve and excited child can soon be thrown into dark and terrible situations.

Pigeon English describes the innocent transition a child can make to become involved with the wrong crowds, ultimately portraying how even the kindest souls can fall to peer pressure to the worst outcomes. This is quite a short novel, yet extremely hard hitting, one I’d recommend to provide a different outlook on how violence can spread from a young age.

Length: 272 (Bloomsbury)

Overall Rating: 3 stars

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Dracula, by Bram Stoker 

This week takes a look at a true classic for any literature and horror fans!

 

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A truly classic novel, Bram Stokers Dracula first brought the legend of Vlad the Impaler into the fictional world. The novel has since inspired an endless plethora of vampire books and films, working from the basis of this eloquent original.

Written entirely in diary form from the perspectives of a number of characters, Dracula presents a personal insight into the lives of its protagonists as they challenge the terror of the blood sucking undead. Perhaps to a fews disappointment, Hugh Jackman’s burly portrayal of Van Helsing is nowhere to be found here, instead a coy tactician and intellectual features in the battle between good and evil. This is a must for any classic literature and horror fans!

Length: 560 (Penguin Classics)

Overall Rating: 5 stars

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, By Jonas Jonasson

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I like to think of this novel as an elderly version of Forest Gump, with much more humour and drinking. The novel follows the innocent yet extremely exciting life of Allan Karlsson, beginning his tale at the age of one hundred in a retirement home in Sweden. As gang war and murder follow the old mans present steps, Allan’s life is gradually recalled as the novel progresses, drawing in a number of world leaders and major events of the first half of the 20th century.

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Fahrenheit 451, By Ray Bradbury

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“Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns”

In the dystopian vein of Brave New World, The Machine Stops and of course 1984, Fahrenheit 451 considers a world were intellect is attacked and shunned. Centuries of classic literature, philosophical thought and anything compelling to the human mind are sought out and burned by Bradbury’s ‘Firemen’, in the place of simplicity and carnal delights.

 

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Restless, by William Boyd

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Restless once more reflects William Boyd’s fascination with the intricate power plays involved in a much more realistic version of espionage. The novel follows two narratives, merging both past and present as a mature student, Ruth, seeks to unravel the exciting past of her mother, Eva Delectorskaya, delving into her involvement in and around the Second World War.

Boyd moves away from the deadly nature of the spying world which a plethora of books and entertainment have drilled into us since the first time Ian Fleming brought Bond to life, though he certainly retains a classic British level of suave. Mystery and distrust fill every page, as Eva’s introduction to the intelligence world is gradually unfolded to her daughter. With Ruth being a student, Boyd masterfully lures the historical nature of the past into the reality of the present. The use of different timelines offers an interesting way to suggest that, for those sworn to secrecy in the intelligence world, the life of a spy never truly ends.

Length: 336 (Bloomsbury)

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

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On the Road, by Jack Kerouac

 

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The road offers a limitless journey, an endless expanse of freedom for any daring enough to live and swear by it. Jack Kerouac offers a true homage to life on the road for two young Americans living through the late 1940s beat era. From the perspective of Sal Paradise, On the Road follows the hyperactive, whirlwind nature of Dean Moriarty, a young man bent on experiencing life and all the wonders it can hold.

Written in the 1950s, On the Road is based upon Kerouac’s own experiences of long road trips across America. The novel emphasises the rise of Jazz and drug culture in America, and how the two protagonists search for a greater meaning within it. In a never ending stream of places, people and above all the journey between them with the freedom of four wheels, On the Road expresses an absolute immersion into life and all its pleasures.

Length: 281 (Penguin classics)

Overall rating: 4 stars

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