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Tag : Fiction

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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About
The Book
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. Usually classed among the best examples of the novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of the sufferings and death of a high-court judge from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

by Leo Tolstoy
About
The Book
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. Usually classed among the best examples of the novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of the sufferings and death of a high-court judge from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia.
Recommended By
What Atul Gawande says

A book I would recommend to an aspiring doctor. It is the best portrayal of sickness and suffering I have ever read — minutely observed, difficult and still true a century and a quarter later.

The Buried Giant

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About
The Book
The Romans have long since departed and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But, at least, the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, decide that now is the time, finally, for them to set off across this troubled land of mist and rain to find the son they have not seen for years, the son they can scarcely remember. They know they will face many hazards—some strange and otherworldly—but they cannot foresee how their journey will reveal to them the dark and forgotten corners of their love for each other as well as the burden of the fullness of a life’s memories. Sometimes savage, sometimes mysterious, always intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade tells a luminous story about the act of forgetting and the power of memory, a resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war.

The Buried Giant

by Kazuo Ishiguro
About
The Book
The Romans have long since departed and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But, at least, the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, decide that now is the time, finally, for them to set off across this troubled land of mist and rain to find the son they have not seen for years, the son they can scarcely remember. They know they will face many hazards—some strange and otherworldly—but they cannot foresee how their journey will reveal to them the dark and forgotten corners of their love for each other as well as the burden of the fullness of a life’s memories. Sometimes savage, sometimes mysterious, always intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade tells a luminous story about the act of forgetting and the power of memory, a resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war.
Recommended By
What Niall Ferguson says

The best new work of fiction I have read this year was Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. I am more enthralled than I have been by a book in a long time. Profound meditation on memory.

Giovanni’s Room

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About
The Book
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.

Giovanni’s Room

by James Baldwin
About
The Book
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
Recommended By
What John Irving says

I was still too young to drive a car when I read James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room.” The concept of a devastating and doomed love story — one that was also modern — hadn’t occurred to me. I thought nothing would ever compare to “Romeo and Juliet,” but Baldwin’s story of “the night that is leading me to the most terrible morning of my life” became the saddest love story I know.

Oscar and Lucinda

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About
The Book
Winner, 1988 Man Booker Prize, Peter Carey's novel of the undeclared love between clergyman Oscar Hopkins and the heiress Lucinda Leplastrier is both a moving and beautiful love story and a historical tour de force set in Victorian times. Made for each other, the two are gamblers - one obsessive, the other compulsive - incapable of winning at the game of love.

Oscar and Lucinda

by Peter Carey
About
The Book
Winner, 1988 Man Booker Prize, Peter Carey's novel of the undeclared love between clergyman Oscar Hopkins and the heiress Lucinda Leplastrier is both a moving and beautiful love story and a historical tour de force set in Victorian times. Made for each other, the two are gamblers - one obsessive, the other compulsive - incapable of winning at the game of love.
Recommended By
What Atul Gawande says

This is the best love story I’ve ever read. I love virtually everything Carey writes. His books are full of eccentrics and cranks and a distinctively Australian mythology and humor.  The story — he is an English clergyman, she is the Australian owner of a glassworks, and they are both secretly inveterate gamblers — is beautifully strange and tender, even though they are doomed. Carey provides some of the best evidence I know that it is possible to be both serious and funny.

Seeing

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About
The Book
Despite the heavy rain, the presiding officer at Polling Station 14 finds it odd that by midday on National Election day, only a handful of voters have turned out. Puzzlement swiftly escalates to shock when eventually, after an extension, the final count reveals seventy per cent of the votes are blank - not spoiled, simply blank...The authorities, seized with panic, decamp from the capital and place it under a state of emergency. In his new novel, Jose Saramago has deftly created the politician's ultimate nightmare: disillusionment not with one party, but with all, thereby rendering the entire democratic system useless. Seeing explores how simply this could be achieved and how devastating the results might be.

Seeing

by Jose Saramago
About
The Book
Despite the heavy rain, the presiding officer at Polling Station 14 finds it odd that by midday on National Election day, only a handful of voters have turned out. Puzzlement swiftly escalates to shock when eventually, after an extension, the final count reveals seventy per cent of the votes are blank - not spoiled, simply blank...The authorities, seized with panic, decamp from the capital and place it under a state of emergency. In his new novel, Jose Saramago has deftly created the politician's ultimate nightmare: disillusionment not with one party, but with all, thereby rendering the entire democratic system useless. Seeing explores how simply this could be achieved and how devastating the results might be.
Recommended By
What Ursula K Le Guin says

A sequel to his amazing novel Blindness. Saramago is not easy to read. He punctuates mostly with commas, doesn’t paragraph often, doesn’t set off conversation in quotes; mannerisms I wouldn’t endure in a lesser writer; but Saramago is worth it. More than worth it. Transcendently worth it. Blindness scared me to death when I started it, but it rises wonderfully out of darkness into the light. Seeing goes the other way and is a very frightening book.

Family Life

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About
The Book
Named one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by NYT Book Review, Family Life is a wrenching and darkly funny, universal story exploring the twin themes of the Indian immigrant experience, and a family beset by a heart-breaking tragedy.

Family Life

by Akhil Sharma
About
The Book
Named one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by NYT Book Review, Family Life is a wrenching and darkly funny, universal story exploring the twin themes of the Indian immigrant experience, and a family beset by a heart-breaking tragedy.
Recommended By
What Dan Pink says

One of the best novels I’ve read in a long while.

Snow Crash

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About
The Book
Neal Stephenson defies comparison - a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. And Snow Crash is just such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

Snow Crash

by Neal Stephenson
About
The Book
Neal Stephenson defies comparison - a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. And Snow Crash is just such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.
Recommended By
What Sergey Brin says

Within the computer field, there are classical books I still find impressive, like Snow Crash. That was really ten years ahead of its time. It kind of anticipated what’s going to happen, and I find that really interesting.

The Master and Margarita

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About
The Book
Set in Moscow of the 1920s, this satirical novel recounts the dealings a writer and his mistress have with Satan. It is woven around a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. The Master and Margarita was written by Mikhail Bulgakov, between 1928 and 1940 but published as a book only in 1967.

The Master and Margarita

by Mikhail Bulgakov
About
The Book
Set in Moscow of the 1920s, this satirical novel recounts the dealings a writer and his mistress have with Satan. It is woven around a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. The Master and Margarita was written by Mikhail Bulgakov, between 1928 and 1940 but published as a book only in 1967.
Recommended By
What Peter Thiel says

My favourite novel? The classic one I always give is Lord of the Rings. If you want something a little more intellectual, it’s probably The Master and Margarita where the devil shows up in Stalinist Russia, and succeeds, and gives everybody what they want, and everything goes haywire. It’s hard, because no one believes he’s real.