I decided to start a new project, if I can call it like that. At the end of each month (or at the beginning of the following one, like in this case) I will write an article about books I have read in previous 30 days, which one I would recommend and which have been rather disappointing. And what is about the name of the project? Atelier as a place for inspiration. Here you will find a book which you should not miss, a book which can inspire you, or on the other hand, a book that you should (in my opinion) avoid. So let's begin with April!
The Return by Hasham Matar - I must say that this fresh Pulitzer Prize winner for literature 2017 is the book which I will be recommending to everyone around me to read. It does not matter if you are looking for a historical novel, for drama, for casual reading or anything else that pops up in your mind. Because this book is able to give you everything (okay, everything except vampires or other fantasy stuff, but you know what I mean). It is not even that long, so spare a day, head to the nearest bookshop and get a copy. And prepare yourself for a story about lost father and searching son, a story about despair and hope, love and hate, war, atrocity and fragile peace. No cliché ending, but a realistic, raw depiction of what is happening in the world right now, as you are reading these lines.
"Pain shrinks the heart. This, I believe, is part of the intention. You make a man disappear to silence him but also to narrow the minds of those left behind, to pervert their soul and limite their imagination." (The Return)
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing - I got to read this book during my two-week long internship in London. I love the city and I can probably never get enough of it. But back then, sometimes I felt a little bit lonely as I had no one (in person) to share my thrill with. So instead I read this book about a woman who finds herself isolated in New York, the city of endless lights and dreams, but also the city with dark places and loneliness. Laing skilfully connects her understanding of art and its background history, and together you will explore some of the major artist who were creating their masterpieces in New York (Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper and more) and who were, at the same time, terribly alone. Read it as a bibliography of famous painters and photographers, except the fact that you will get to know details you would not otherwise see in any average art textbook.
On Beauty by Zadia Smith - I must thank my stepmom for introducing me to this amazing writer. Of course that I heard about Zadia Smith before, I even tried to read her book N-W two years ago and I failed. Thus it had to be On Beauty, the story about everyday life of an American family, struggling with finding ways to each other, respecting people around and mainly accepting themselves. Sounds like a cliché? Believe me, Smith does not need anything like that. What I especially loved about it is that Smith does not use some radical, non-realistic plot twists to keep you reading. On the contrary, she sticks to her wonderful use of language that captures you and does not let you go until you finish reading the last sentence. Although I was not that fussed about the last 20 pages of the book, I can still recommend reading it. Her writing style is like Virginia Woolf of the 21st century, and the plot could be seen as an homage to E. M. Foster.
"When I say I hate time, Paul says how else could we find depth of character, or grow souls?" (Mark Doty, On Beauty)
The Hours by Michael Cunningham - What do you do if you come to study French to Brussels? Add an English literature course to your schedule, obviously. That is how I got to read these short three stories of different women from different countries, yet skilfully and inevitably connected. Cunningham's writing style can be simple, long, descriptive, detailed and most importantly, it is always amazing (not easy to read at first, but amazing!!). I already wrote a review on this book, therefore, I do not want to repeat myself here. So rather than doing that, you should read the book about time, life and love, and let me know what you think about it. But you will not be disappointed.
Other books worth of your notice: Lord of the Flies by William Golding (British classic which you have probably already read, but I got to it just now so I want to proudly mention it) and The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald (I absolutely adore this brilliant writer)