Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence [London: Faber & Faber, 2010, translated by Maureen Freely] is another of his intense novels which bring out the contrast between Western and more traditional Turkish values. Like Snow, it is a story of a doomed love affair that, in this case, is played out in the Istanbul of the last quarter of the 20th century.
Devoted readers of Murakami’s novels, in more than forty languages, will wonder how it has taken me so long to get here. Now I have arrived, I am taking up permanent residence. 1Q84 [London; Vintage, 2012 translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel] was published in Japan in 2009/10 and it just happened to jump off the shelf when I was passing it recently. It’s a marvellous book that combines adventure, romance, philosophy, fantasy, deep understanding of loneliness and a compelling, beautifully written, page-turning narrative. What a discovery!
Some seventy years older than his British counterpart Adrian Mole, elderly Dutchman Hendrik Groen pokes fun at the complicated life and lifestyle of the growing geriatric generation [London: Michael Joseph, 2016].
Arno Geiger’s new book, The Old King in his Exile [High Wycombe: & Other Stories, 2017] is an uplifting memoir of the years in which he came to terms with his father’s transition into Alzheimer’s. Given that this is a situation we are all more likely to experience than ever before, these first-hand accounts can ease us more gently into understanding and into the ability to adapt and cope with what can only be a frightening experience without such help.
Here is another witty book from the sharp pen of Juan Pablo Villalobos; I’ll Sell You A Dog [High Wycombe: And Other Stories, 2016]. Last time, three years ago, the main ingredient was quesadillas, sometimes without cheese. This time it’s tacos but don’t ask what’s in them. Translator Rosalind Harvey does deliver the full flavour of the prose, however. The publisher’s blurb says it is about ‘everything that can be done to fend off the boredom of retirement and old age, while still holding a beer.’