I get the time to read. The last year has seen me struggling to finish books and I’ve started and given up on a number of them. I usually read at night before I go to bed and in the last twelve months I’ve often found myself thinking “I should go to sleep now in case he wakes up in the middle of the night. I should be getting all the sleep I can”
But since I’m in Madras now and there are a million people to entertain, bathe, feed and pacify my boy I can read all I like. I’ve read two great books in the last fortnight and that’s a real achievement considering it took my about 3 months to finish Wide Sargasso Sea.
The first was The Secret River by Kate Grenville. Set in 1806, it tells the story of William Thornhill a waterman on the Thames who commits a crime for which he and his family are sent to New South Wales as punishment. The book tells the story of Australia’s first white settlers, their clashes with the Aborigines and one man’s desire to start over and make something of himself. I’m not much of a book reviewer, so I won’t try to be one but I will say that the book is beautifully written.
The second book I read was The TV President by Elise Valmorbida. Elise was my writing instructor at two Creative Writing courses I did at Central St Martin’s. This is her third book and a fourth, called The Winding Stick has just come out. The TV President is about two JFK lookalikes taking part in a reality tv show where viewers vote the most authentic impersonator as their TV President. Dark and funny, it was a fantastic read and has made me place an order for The Winding Stick.
PS Elise has kindly mentioned something I contributed to in her Top 10 books on the Migrant Experience for The Guardian
10. From There to Here – Sixteen True Tales of Immigration to Britain
This down-to-earth anthology is full of idiosyncrasy and insight. The first story is peppered with the refrain: “Let it be. You never know when we will need it.” How many migrants have said the same thing about their beloved belongings? How many live with the symbol of their suitcases above their heads? And yet other migrants say: “Why would we want to go back when we have everything here? We are in Heaven.” I feel that way about London. Apart from a few dear souls, everything is here. Heaven.”
(Ps. Thanks to Radhika for also sending me the link!)