TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann

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Human nature transcends time, ever offering violence upon the innocent, cruelty bred from war. Following a number of timelines and characters, Transatlantic explores the strifes of humanity, which echo on throughout history.

McCann’s subtle links and recurring themes underlying his plot certainly make for an interesting read. As the novel progresses, what at first appear seemingly unrelated stories become delicately intertwined, passing down through generations. TransAtlantic delves through history, shedding light on the unchanging nature of life for all our past ancestors, from violence to love, and hope to woe. Under the backdrop of an ever aggrieved Ireland and the fragile promise of America, McCann skillfully relates the hardships of humanity from a variety of characters, whose lives merge into one another’s in the slightest of ways.  

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The Lazarus Project, by Aleksandar Hemon

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Following the dual narratives of two men experiencing life as immigrants within Chicago, The Lazarus Project is a powerful tale of soul-searching, identity and existence. With the modern narrative following Vladimir Brik, Hemon explores both life and meaning for a Bosnian immigrant in America. Alongside this, what appears to be a very different story is that of Lazarus Averbuch, a man killed in cold blood during the anarchist wave ruthlessly abated by American law in the year 1903. As this novel progresses however, it appears these two stories are both interrelated, and painfully juxtaposed.

 

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Elephant & Other Stories, by Raymond Carver

 

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Born in 1938 to a sawmill worker and a waitress in Oregon, Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories are firmly based in the post-war beat America. Lacking any narrative plotline, at first the stories are somewhat difficult to decipher any reason or meaning. However, a closer reading below the surface reveals a highly sobered reflection on the subtle intricacies of everyday life.
Carver has a strong focus on family and relationships, considering in various ways the obligatory necessity to aid one’s own kin, and the burden this can cause not only financially, but mentally. The namesake of this collection, Elephant quite sadly tells of the drain people can cause for their loved ones, how the sturdy but good may be preyed upon by the weak and selfish.

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Between The World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

 

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‘I was attracted to the guns, because the guns seemed honest’

Survival, understanding, growing, love.

Between the World and Me covers the lifespan of the author growing from the streets of Baltimore, depicting his struggles brought on by his colour and his striving attempt to break out and understand another life. Written as a heartbreaking message to his son, the novel follows the Coates’ growing discoveries, realisations and understanding of the world as it truly is, as he attempts to explain to his son the realities of life.

 

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