Read Anything Good Lately?
Scottish Book Trust staff have been devouring books with their usual voracious appetite. Three of our staff members share the books that have most recently rocked their world, and could rock yours too!
Michael Merillo read:
Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham
Took about 6/7 days to read.
I’ve been a bit of a Punic kick the last few months; I’ve read half a dozen books based on or around Hannibal/Carthage and I found Durham’s Pride of Carthage to be one of the best written and the most powerfully told. As an 8 year-old boy Hannibal Barca swore a terrible oath before his father and his gods to never be a friend of Rome. Two decades later, he led a huge army of Carthaginians, Libyans, Africans, Iberians, Celtiberians and Celts to ravage Italy for fifteen years. In the end he failed, a victim of his own success. His enemy learned from him, and his own people never trusted him enough to give him the resources to complete the destruction of Rome. Pride of Carthage reimagines this scantly-recorded classic tale from a dozen different viewpoints, from generals to scavengers, soldiers to priests, and princesses and mothers.
In Short: Grand and sweeping in scope, but balanced with intimate portraits of Hannibal, his family, friends and greatest enemies.
Danny Scott (@ASimpleDan) read:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Took 2 weeks to read.
Set mainly in present-day New Jersey, Diaz delves into the Dominican Republic’s national psyche, and the painful past of Trujillo’s dictatorship, through multiple characters to deliver a true contender for the 21st century canon. His writing is brilliantly flavoured with untranslated Spanish to capture what, one imagines, is a very modern vernacular in many parts of the US - giving his work even more of a zeitgeist feel. With characters that stay with you, muy picante writing and just the right amount of magical realism, I swear I could feel this book’s heart beating as I held it. Highly, highly recommended.
Lynsey Rogers read:
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Took 3 days to read.
I read a lot of Young Adult fiction, so finding a truly memorable narrator can be a challenge. Standish Treadwell, the quiet hero of this novel, is a remarkable character with a distinct, compelling voice. The plot unravels at a rapid pace and the prose is deceptively simple, giving a brutal and horrifying vision of dystopia. There are conspiracy theories, echoes of 1984, Nazism and some graphic, disturbing moments of violence. It definitely isn't for the faint-hearted, but I highly recommend this novel, a very strong contender on this year's Carnegie Medal shortlist.
In short: Brutal, gripping, disturbing, thought-provoking and brilliantly written.
Have you read anything good lately? Tell us in the comments below!