Year: 2017

2016: A Year in Review (Part Two)

Part Two: I went to a talk by Elif Shafak, author of The Bastard of Istanbul, The Architects Apprentice and the soon-to-be-published The Three Daughters of Eve: Elif Shafak begins her talk at the Oxford Union by stepping off the stage to introduce herself, not waiting for any questions to be posed to her but anticipating them first, impatient to start. The controversial author – or at least controversial in Turkey, where she was prosecuted for her work ‘insulting Turkishness’– was born in Strasbourg to Turkish parents. Her parents separated soon after she was born and she was raised by her single mother, a diplomat and ‘secular, modern woman’ and her grandmother who she describes in her TED talk as ‘spiritual, less educated, less rational’, a woman who predicted the future from coffee grains. I have listened to many interviews with Shafak before, having loved her ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ with its fairytale cast of characters and dark twist. Although she often speaks on the same theme, Shafak is never boring but as intriguing a …

2016: A Year in Review (Part One)

The books, music, films, places and people that made my year better. The Muse by Jessie Burton: I loved The Miniaturist but I think I might marginally prefer The Muse, which somehow manages to create an even deeper sense of mystery than its predecessor. Burton always manages to evoke so perfectly places and eras that are worlds away; in this novel the narrative moves from 1960s London to 1930s Spain and back again and it does so so convincingly that after reading it, I felt like I had jetted to Spain and recently visited the Skelton Gallery, spotting Peggy Guggenheim as I went. The story revolves around four women; in London, Trinidadian Odelle Bastien, a writer who works at the art gallery as a typist and her enigmatic superior, Marjorie Quick and in Spain, Olive Schloss, the daughter of two absentee parents and a secretive painter and Teresa Robles, a sixteen year old for whom just surviving was enough before Olive arrived in her life. The novel is really a story about art; what makes …