Each month we pick four books relating to our monthly theme that we think you should read. Here’s this month’s suggested reading, all linking – in one way or another – to this month’s theme of LANGUAGE.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
culture; immigration; literature
Diaz’s debut novel is about Oscar, an overweight Dominican nerd from New Jersey who dreams of romance and becoming the next J.R.R Tolkien. Standing in his way is fuku – an ancient curse that haunts Oscar’s family with bad luck, especially in love. Diaz writes with a strong accent and voice, weaving Dominican-Spanish phrases into the hilarious, heartbreaking narrative, giving the reader a strong sense of Oscar’s heritage and language that shapes his life, at its most wondrous and not.
‘Success, after all, loves a witness, but failure can’t exist without one.’
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis
word play; linguistics; storytelling
Davis is notorious for her very brief but very inventive short stories. This book is a collection of them – in all their diversity and difference. Davis is unlike anything you will ever read. She has the ability to make you laugh in a two sentence story, break your heart with misplaced punctuation and question the whole purpose of writing in one paragraph. Read her – she will stay with you for a while.
‘I looked like a woman in glasses, but I had dreams of leading a very different kind of life, the life of a woman who would not wear glasses, the kind of woman I saw from a distance now and then in a bar.’
We Need to Talk by Various
difficult conversations; communication; relationships
A collection of nineteen brilliant stories about difficult conversations. Featuring stories from DD’s very own Bridie Wilkinson (‘Family Language’) as well as journalist Daisy Buchanan, author Kim Curran, plus an introduction by author Milly Johnson, the highly readable collection covers everything from small talk, big topics, to conversations with yourself.
‘We need to talk.’ When has the world not become a little more tarnished, a little more broken, after those four words?
Pétronille by Amélie Nothomb
translated fiction; friendship
If you’re looking for some translated fiction, give Amélie Nothomb a try. The bestselling Belgian author is often described as a Tim Burton character, and Pétronille certainly has an element of the weird and wonderful to it – but for the main part it’s a portrayal of an unexpected, champagne-fuelled friendship between two women.
‘Intoxication doesn’t just happen. It’s an art, one that requires talent and application. Haphazard drinking leads nowhere.’