Happy World Book Day! While Library staff aren’t dressing up like classic book characters (we hope you aren’t too disappointed), some of us have been reading and reviewing new and classic picks from our fiction collection.
You can browse online collections of these titles at the links below, or by searching for fiction in Hunter:
KU Big Read titles
LGBT History Month titles
Black History Month titles
On to the reviews!
Tin Man by Sarah Winman
A short but beautifully bittersweet story of grief, and the loves that preceded it.
A book of two halves, the narrative follows firstly Ellis and then transfers to Michael, childhood friends whose lives have diverged in adulthood. However, while being centred on the story of these two men, the book opens in 1950 with a woman and what is described as ‘her first ever act of defiance.’ The woman, instead of complying with her husband’s instruction to choose a bottle of whiskey upon winning a raffle draw at a local community centre event, chooses a reproduction painting of van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The woman is Dora Judd, Ellis’s mother, and both she and the painting are a thread woven through the story of these men’s lives, signifying the possibilities of committing to an act of hope – the choice to turn towards the light.
Winman’s prose is understated yet brimming with beauty and compassion, embodying one of the underlying themes of the novel – the beauty and potential inherent in the everyday.
Verity Allison, Journals and e-Resources Librarian
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
“For girls, becoming women was inevitability; for boys, becoming men was ambition”
Home Fire is a modern-day reworking of the Greek tragedy Antigone, centred around a British Muslim community who are dealing with the fallout of one their own leaving London to join ISIS. The story unfolds through a number of different perspectives; from siblings Isma, Aneeka and Parvaiz, to the Home Secretary Karamat Lone and his son Eamonn.
It is certainly an intense read, but an important one. Shamsie’s insidious descriptions of Parvaiz’s slide into radicalisation are heartbreaking and her characterisation of the British tabloid press is spot-on and desperately frustrating to read. Part-thriller, part homage to the power of love and family, the story builds and builds to a hugely cinematic climax. How satisfying you find the ending is very much up for discussion, but this is a read that has stuck with me for a long, long time after turning the last page.
Beth Jackson, Liaison Support Librarian
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
I first saw Anthony Minghella’s Oscar-winning film adaption of this book, and having subsequently heard the director talk about Michael Ondaatje’s beautiful writing I was intrigued. The book itself won the Booker Prize in 1992, and the Golden Man Booker Prize in 2018 – essentially being voted the best of the all previous Booker prize winners.
Set at the time of the Second World War, several lives entwine around an “English” patient who has badly been burned in an airplane accident. The back-story that unfurls is both romantic and heartbreaking.
I find it very hard to keep interested in books where I have already seen the film but Ondatjee’s writing really is special: he writes very poetically. The plot is slightly different to the film which always makes it more interesting. I’d definitely recommend this book.
Daniel Jeffcote, Information Assistant
If you’d like some more recommendations, we’ve previously featured reviews written by FHSCE and Library staff. How about one reading one of our selected #KUBigRead shortlisted titles? You can find their reviews below:
The Penguin Lessons
The Elephant and the Bee
The Brilliant and Forever
My Name is Leon
On the other hand, if you prefer a non-fiction read but aren’t in the mood for another Oxford Handbook, Library staff have also reviewed a selection of popular science writing. You can read our thoughts here.
If you’d be interested in reading and reviewing any books from the Library collection, please do get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org