Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

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In his debut novel, once more Saunders’ irreverent, sporadic and moving style is put masterfully to use to capture a powerful narrative. Composed of dozens of voices, from which history merges with fiction in a mesmerising whole, Lincoln in the Bardo is an entirely singular novel, certainly the first of its kind, and one which will long be remembered.

 

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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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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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Tenth of December, by George Saunders 

In light of Saunders’ recent success in publishing his first full novel, this review looks back to one of his most insightful collections of short stories: Tenth of December.

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In this oddly disjointed, surreal collection, the underlying issues in modern American culture are loudly explored. An exhilarating read, Saunders’ breathless writing style floods over terrible realities and hard truths, leaving the reader gasping in its wake.

 

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