Magazine article New Internationalist

Creative Flow: More Outstanding Fiction Selected by the NI

Magazine article New Internationalist

Creative Flow: More Outstanding Fiction Selected by the NI

Article excerpt

If you have difficulty getting any of these titles from your local store, try Blackwells on www.bookshop.blackwell.co.uk or via their International Mail Order Book Service. Tel: +44 1865 261355 (24 hours). Fax: 01865 261355. E-mail: extra@blackwellsbookshops.co.uk or Amazon on www.amazon.com (North America) and www.amazon.co.uk (Britain)

Memories of a Pure Spring by Duong Thu Huong Translated from the Vietnamese by Nina McPherson and Phan Huy Duong (Picador, ISBN 0 330 48182 7)

Duong Thu Huong is one of Vietnam's foremost writers and her early novels were all bestsellers. However, in 1988 after publishing Paradise of the Blind, a scathing criticism of the disastrous 1950s land-reform programme, she was expelled from the Communist Party and her novels banned. In 1991, after sending abroad the manuscript of her Novel Without a Name, she was imprisoned for seven months. Despite not being allowed to publish, she continues to live and write in Hanoi. Memories of a Pure Spring concerns the colossal disruptions that convulsed Vietnamese society in the 1980s after 30 years of war. The book follows the lives of Suong and her husband Huong who were both members of a famous wartime entertainment troupe, sent into the countryside to 'sing louder than the bombs'. After the war, Huong is mistakenly arrested along with a group of 'boat people' attempting to flee the country. The struggle of Hung and Suong to make a living despite the systematic vindictiveness of a controlled and intolerant regime is at once a powerful comment on the place of the artist in society and a haunting and painfully honest love story.

www.macmillan.com

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Mirage by Bandula Chandraratna (Phoenix House, ISBN 1 861591 84 5)

Bandula Chandraratna is Sri Lankan by birth and has worked in Saudi Arabia and the UK. His first novel Mirage was privately published by the author and only came to wider notice when it was praised by the 1999 Booker Prize jury. Mirage is a deceptively simple and beautifully written novel set in the present in a closed desert kingdom. It concerns Sayeed, a good, 'ordinary' man, and Latifa, a village girl wrenched from the everything she knows into the harsh realities of city life. From the unpromising beginnings of an arranged marriage, their brief love flowers, only to fall victim to forces far beyond their control. The novel ends in tragedy and death but there is hope too, with the birth of Sayeed and Latifa's daughter, Leila. A sequel, Eye for an Eye, published this year, tells Leila's story.

Tide Running by Oonya Kempadoo (Picador, ISBN 0 330 48252 1)

Oonya Kempadoo's second novel is set in Plymouth on the island of Tobago. For teenagers Cliff and Ossie life revolves around fishing, sex and Baywatch and 'Opree Winfree' on the TV. The arrival of Bella, a Caribbean woman and her husband Peter, an Englishman provides both a diversion and an opportunity to break the shackles of their humdrum existence. Written in energetic patois, the novel is a searching examination of the responsibilities that come with relative wealth and the strains imposed on a young society which looks to America for its role models and its aspirations. Born in England of Guyanese parents in 1966, Oonya Kempadoo was brought up in Guyana and has lived in Europe and various Caribbean islands. Her first novel Buxton Spice was published in 1998.

www.macmillan.com

The Carrier by Jamal Mahjoub (Phoenix House ISBN 1 861 59100 4)

This novel is set at the start of the 17th century as Rashid al-Kenzy, incarcerated in the prison of the Dey of Algiers, is offered a deal: his freedom in exchange for agreeing to travel to Europe in search of a mysterious Dutch device - the telescope. Things do not go to plan, however, and he is shipwrecked off the coast of Jutland. Saved by Heinesen, a pupil of the Astronomer Tycho Brahe, Rashid is enlisted to help build a tower to the stars. …

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