More of The Edge writer’s must read books for the summer!
Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
In 1978 Gregory David Roberts was sentenced to 19 years in prison following a series of armed robberies, but it was his escape from prison and his subsequent life which provides the events on which Shantaram is based.
After his escape from said prison, he went to Mumbai where Shantaram is largely set, with vivid descriptions of the slums and markets and a dramatic chronicling of his time in India. Innumerable plot twists make this an exciting read, with a massive amount of experiences and incidents described in stirring detail. The novel eloquently displays the culture and customs of the difficult living environment, and delicately conveys the various characters which he meets on his decidedly illicit, yet incredibly emotional, heartbreaking, exhilarating, painful, and liberating journey.
An extremely well written book, the fact that it is based on true events makes it even more inspiring. At almost 1000 pages long this will last even the longest of holidays, and if that’s not enough, Roberts is well on his way to finishing the sequel, The Mountain Shadow. By Howell Davies.
N-W – Zadie Smith
Having heard great things about Zadie Smith, and seeing that she’d been shortlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013, I was looking forward to seeing what she had to offer. N-W does not disappoint.
N-W tells the story of four Londoners –Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan, and their lives after leaving the school and the council estate where they all met. The individual focus on the characters, and their perspectives when faced with people and problems from their respective pasts makes N-W a fascinating read, and Smith captures the comedy and tragedy of their lives perfectly.
Although it is initially a bit difficult to get into, perseverance pays off. Felix’s story in particular is captivating, and you can’t help but root for him; despite knowing the outcome of his tale before it’s begun.
Smith shows why sometimes simplicity is most effective with her natural dialogue and relatable scenarios, yet N-W still has some surprises up its sleeve.
Definitely one to check out! By Shell Hinds.
Game of Thrones – George RR Martin
If you haven’t heard of Game of Thrones then I have to wonder what rock you’ve been hiding under for the past year or so. Most people have heard of, if not seen the HBO series based on George RR Martin’s bestselling series of books. The television show is excellent. The books are even better.
Game of Thrones tells the story of the families of Westeros, and the battle for the Iron Throne, the seat for the ruler of the kingdom. The fantasy world that Martin has created in his novels are intricate and well rounded, harking back to medieval times, with magical twists. Yet this is certainly no fairyland. Westeros is raw, brutal and dark.
Martin’s strengths lie in his characterisation. His female characters are fully formed, none are shades or stereotypes, and are contenders for the Iron Throne in their own right. The men are good, bad and truly horrendous. Personal favourites include Tyrion Lannister, the embittered dwarf, and Sansa Stark, daughter of the famously noble Ned Stark.
Game of Thrones is everything a fantasy should be and more! By Rebecca James.
The End of Your Life Bookclub – Will Schwalbe
This heartbreaking memoir looks at a very special book club: one held between a son and his dying mother. Will Schwalbe is a publisher and reads books continually for work and pleasure. He often talks to his mother about the books they are both reading, and when she is diagnosed with a terminal illness they start a two-person reading group that brings them even closer together just before they are prematurely parted.
Schwalbe writes with clarity and humour on the situations and discussions that he and his mother encounter as her life draws to a close. As well as being a touching celebration of his mother’s full and varied life, it is a heartfelt love-letter to the joy and power of reading and how books can connect people even in the darkest of circumstances. By Barnaby Walter