Tag: must read

Literary Canon Update

Have you ever been given a reading list that’s written, translated, and selected exclusively by and for men? Odds are you’ve rarely seen any that aren’t. If you want to appreciate the cannon while also living in a world where women exist, this is the list for you. These books and translations are some of the best and most lauded of all time, and yes, they’re by women.

It was, I must confess, a little hard to compile. The Odyssey was first translated by a woman only in 2017! But don’t despair. It’s all here for the taking.

 

The Iliad and the Odyssey

 

Homer’s epics have been translated MANY times, but these, by Caroline Alexander and Emily Wilson, respectively, set an incredible standard.

 

The Iliad

 

 

Close as can be to the ancient Greek, this translations has garnered heaping praise. “[T]he guard has changed, and a new gold standard has appeared”, said New Criterion at the volume’s publication. This edition even manages to retain the original line numbers from the Greek.

 

The Odyssey

 

 

This work, too, matches the original Greek as closely as possible. “A staggeringly superior translation―true, poetic, lively and readable, and always closely engaged with the original Greek”, said Harvard classics professor Richard F. Thomas. Iambic pentameter imitates the lyricism of the original Greek, and the volume also includes translation guides and maps.

 

 

Antigonik and An Oresteia

 

 

For both of these it is possible to turn to Anne Carson, a Canadian translator and classics professor. Carson’s translations are modern, elegant, and never condescending. In stead of translated, the works seem brought into the light, with all their strangeness and fierceness intact.

 

 

Jane Austen

 

How is it that Jane Austen, often the only woman on a reading list, is still under hyped? I had a guy in a bar tell me once that if people like Austen it’s because they haven’t read a lot of books. He really said that. Family conflict, human stories, and scathing humor makes Austen worth reading, with characters you really will love, and hate.

 

Pride & Prejudice

 

It’s a staple for a reason, and if you’re not sure you’ll relate to these people’s problems, you’re wrong. Fuckboys, impending poverty, poor decisions, and character growth you can get behind. Plus, it may be a period piece, but people still love their sisters. You’ll relate.

 

 

Jane Eyre

 

 

Another classic people want to avoid, but it has everything: deaths, fire, lies, weddings, blindness. I wouldn’t exactly call Jane a relateable character, but she’s understandable, I think, when you see everything she’s been through. And she’s incredibly decisive.

 

 

 

Images via Amazon 

A Booker Brace – Top 3 Booker Prize Picks

 

The Booker Prize has been a principal barometer of the British literary community since 1969, and since 2014, has considered all original fiction written in English. If you don’t have time to read all 13 books on the long list (a Booker dozen), and you don’t want to wait for the short list in September or the winner in October, here are our top picks.

 

 

 

1. My Sister, The Serial KillerOyinkan Braithwaite

 

Cover - My Sister, The Serial Killer

Image via Amazon

 

This is a gallows humor slasher about the things you do for the ones you love. Morally unencumbered, capturing the complexities of sibling life, this is a page turner you won’t want to put down. It’s already won several awards, including the LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller and the Field Notes Morning News Tournament of Books, as well as being shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and optioned for a movie.

This is Braithewaite’s debut, but already shows a distinct, explosive voice, and has been perhaps one of the most publicized of the long list novels. Anyone with a taste for killers, or good female villains in general, should pick this up, but you don’t have to be a slasher fan to enjoy this novel.

 

 

2. QuichotteSalman Rushdie

 

Cover - Quichotte

Image via Amazon

 

Quichotte won’t be released until September, but the modern retelling of Don Quixote promises Rushdie’s signature blend of reality and magical realism, with both a commitment to the source material and the devastating strangeness of the present age.

Salman Rushdie has long been a towering figure in literature. Both literary and surrealist, Rushdie has won a battery of awards for his 13 previous books, including the Eggerton prize, and promotion to Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Frances greatest literary honor. Rushdie has won the booker three times, including the 25th and 40th anniversary prizes.

It may not be out yet, but it can be prehumously recommended on anticipation.

 

 

3. An Orchestra of MinoritiesChigozie Obioma 

 

Cover - An Orchestra of Minorities

Image via Amazon

 

This pick is both more tragic and more fantastical, narrated by the guardian spirit of a lovelorn chicken farmer. In love with a wealthy woman, and cheated out of everything he’s ever had, this book explores suicide, loss, and abandonment all through the lens of a narrator who is both hundreds of years old and removed from humanity. The prose is rich and ethereal, and explores what victimhood does to a person, and how far it’s possible to fall – all while traveling the world and more astral spaces.

This is Obioma’s second novel, and his first was short listed for the Booker Prize, so it’s a good bet this year.

 

 

Featured image via The Irish Times