What the books are about
The Enchantress of Florence
Salman Rushdie’s new novel is a hall of mirrors. They distort and flatter, and above all, like those mirrors set by exits onto dangerous roads, they reveal what is hidden. Two great civilisations, the Moghul empire of Jalalluddin Muhammed Akbar, and the Florence of the Medicis and of Machiavelli, reflect on each other while they are linked by a series of fairytale improbabilities... It’s a haul of stories, gathered with magpie glee, arranged to glitter. Self-consciousness is one of the book’s main purposes. Rushdie keeps coming back to his reflections on the nature of story itself, and the way in which a human being understands himself and his dilemma through story... Rushdie brilliantly describes the imprisonment and torture of Machiavelli, and the influence of the dungeon on Machiavelli’s ideas.... The Enchantress is not really about Qara Köz, or Simonetta Vespucci, or any other fabulous beauty. For all its proliferating surface dazzle, this is a book with few illusions. One after another the stories drop like masks. The solitude, harshness and illogicality of human life are accepted almost casually, without surprise.
Other Colours is a collection of immediate relevance and timeless value, ranging from lyrical autobiography to criticism of literature and culture, from humour to political analysis, from delicate evocations of his friendship with his daughter Ruya to provocative discussions of Eastern and Western art. It also covers Pamuk’s recent, high profile, court case. My Father’s Suitcase, Pamuk’s 2006 Nobel Lecture, a brilliant illumination of what it means to be a writer, completes the selection from the figure who is now without doubt one of international literature’s most eminent and popular figures.
A Teenager’s Journey
At the end of A Brother’s Journey, Richard Pelzer’s mother and three brothers are moving to Salt Lake City, Utah. He has the choice of joining them — unwanted — or staying behind. But where can he live? What can he live on? Defeated — he follows them. So continues Richard’s alcoholic mother’s physical abuse of Richard. But gradually he is growing up — not just in years but stature. His mother cannot treat him in quite the same way and mostly it is with neglect. Richard runs away and tries to commit suicide several times, and he has a stint with a foster home. He turns to soft drugs, then hard drugs. Finally he goes to live with John and Darlene Nichols who try to show him some family love. At the age of 21 he gets a full time job and tries to learn to be a big brother to the foster parents’ children. And begins to get his life together...An uplifting and inspiring story about someone who retains his religion and regains basic morals - despite everything going against him.
Blood of the Earth
China is now the world’s second largest energy consumer, trailing only behind America. And India has moved up into the fourth place behind Russia, after overtaking Japan in 2001. Dramatically changing the geopolitics of oil in the new century, China and India are rapidly expanding their navies as they become increasingly dependent on lines of oil tankers from the Middle East, posing the beginning of an eventual challenge to American hegemony in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. But while competition for oil sharpens — the world is approaching the projected peak oil output in 2012 - the number of countries able to export the commodity is shrinking. Those countries will be largely Muslim, or like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, hostile to Western interests. The potential shortage of oil sets the stage for the coming oil wars of the 21st century.
Tracing his ancestry through six generations — slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lawyers and architects — back to Africa, Alex Haley discovered a 16-year-old youth, Kunta Kinte. It was this young man, who had been torn from his homeland and in torment and anguish brought to the slave markets of the new world, who held the key to Haley’s deep and distant past.