30 May, 2006

End of the world as we know it

Can any readers suggest books about post-apocalypse life on earth? The apocalypse can be plague, nuclear holocaust, the oil running out, whatever - I'm interested in compiling a list.

So far I have a few children's books:

  • Plague 99 - Jean Ure
  • Children of the dust - Louise Lawrence

Adult books include:

  • On the beach - Nevil Shute
  • Memoirs of a survivor - Doris Lessing
  • Greybeard - Brian Aldiss
  • The drowned world - JG Ballard
  • Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
  • Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank

I'm sure there must be loads more. Any suggestions?

Building a new world

I've just been enjoying enormously Linda Grant's novel about Palestine at the end of the British Mandate period, When I lived in modern times. It's the story of a girl, Evelyn Sert, who travels from post-war Britain to Palestine in the hope of helping to forge the new Jewish state, who is confronted by a world in motion where her every decision is a statement about herself and her view of the embryonic Jewish state. It's also about double identity: Jewish/English and inner life/outer life.

The book is set in Tel Aviv and Linda Grant has said she wanted the writing to be like the city: simple and strong. It is both those things, and a thrilling evocation of what it must have been like to be in Palestine at that time: one of the books you read as much to find out what it was like to live in a particular period as for any higher literary experience. The narrative voice very subtly underlines some of the hypocrisies and compromises of the Jews as well as of the British imperial administrators, and it also looks at what it means to be modern and shows Evelyn's growing up from a girl to an adult very beautifully. All this and a truly gripping read! I recommend it highly.

24 May, 2006

Catching up

Blimey, I haven't posted on here in nearly two months. I've been preparing for my exams, but just as an aide-mémoire, here are the books I've been reading recently:

Hobsbawm's Age of Empire and Age of Extremes
Dumas's La Reine Margot
A book on The British spy novel by John Atkins
Many are the crimes by Ellen Schrecker, about the McCarthy period in America
From Napoleon to the Second International, a collection of AJP Taylor's essays on the nineteenth century
Mein Jahrhundert, Gunther Grass's collection of one hundred short stories, one for each year of the twentieth century
The communist manifesto, actually a re-read, but I haven't read it in around ten years
Freud's A short introduction to psychoanalysis, which did exactly what it said on the label