Microviews Vol. 32: E.T. Goes To Zanzibar

on Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah
I'm a sucker for post-colonial lit, and this richly textured novel was a great introduction to the world of Zanzibarian (is that a word?) writing. Naive young Yusuf is sold into slavery to pay his father's debts, but dreams big as he is dragged from town to town by his merchant owner. The biblical allusions are laid on thick, and anyone familiar with the Potiphar story can see what's going to happen a mile away. Didn't stop me rooting for the poor kid. A marvellous work from a greatly underrepresented corner of the world.
4 Out Of 5 Coats of Many Colours

The Humans by Matt Haig
Haig maintains his quirky edge with this entertaining tale of an alien inhabiting the body of a mathematical genius and wreaking destruction on other puny humans. Sure, we're sitting ducks, and some of Haig's gags are as old as Pythagoras, but it's still fun to have the disintegration ray pointed at our crotches every now and then. Even the slightly cringeworthy Jeff Bridges in Starman ending doesn't ruin the ride.
3.5 Out Of 5 Sonic Transducers

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
There are many ways to read this beautifully drawn graphic novel: surreal black comedy, new twist on classic horror, satire on the terrorist paranoia, a poke in the eye to those who fear the mysterious "other", a middle finger response to bald people (and those with alopecia). I chose to read it as an indictment on the awful beard rock that has taken over my beloved punk world. Probably wasn't intended that way but, hey, it worked for me!
4 Out Of 5 Safety Razors

Dossier K. by Imre Kertesz
Nobel laureate Kertesz built his reputation on heavily autobiographical novels. This time round, he throws the fiction thing out the window in favour of an intriguing piece of straight up self-interrogation. Basically, it's a book-long interview with himself, in conversational question/answer format. As he shades in between the lines of his previous work, we are given not only a greater understanding of his life, but also an excellent treatise on the relationship between fact and fiction. It's an odd endeavour, but fascinating nonetheless.
3.5 Out Of 5 Pierced Veils

The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer
At first I thought I was back in the warm embrace of a Mark Haddon-esque confection but, as this fantastic debut unfolded, I felt my chest tighten and throat close in the presence of a seriously disturbed mind. The Shock Of The Fall is the strongest first-person schizophrenia narrative I've ever read. The narrator, Matt, is a marvellously well-rounded creation, both loveable and infuriating on his path to self-destruction (and possible redemption). It's like have ringside seats at a wrestling match of the brain. Devastating, humane and well worth checking out.
4 Out Of 5 Little White Pills


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