5. The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In BetweenThe Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between
by Hisham Matar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Novelist Hisham Matar is the son of a major opponent of Muammar Qaddafi. When he was young, Hisham's father was kidnapped and disappeared by the regime. This book is about his quest to find out what happened to his father in the depths of Qaddafi's prisons.
Matar entertains some hopes that his father is not dead, and tries his utmost to learn where he is and to bring about his release, and the release of those imprisoned with him. He presents his father as a wise, poetry-loving gentle soul who had a fierce love for his country, which brought him into inevitable conflict with the dictator.
This book is heartbreaking at times, especially in the parts when Hisham must deal directly with Qaddafi's inner circle to finally learn his father's fate. This brush with evil is enough to give the reader the creeps; one can only imagine how hard it must have been for Matar.
A thoughtful and eye-opening book.6. NaokoNaoko
by Keigo Higashino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Factory worker Heisuke returns from work to learn that the bus that his wife and daughter were on has crashed and they are both in intensive care. His wife Naoko is fading fast, and daughter Monami is in a coma. As Naoko passes away in front of him, Monami begins to stir.
"Darling, here. I'm here".
With that simple sentence, Higashino takes what was shaping up as a fairly ordinary drama, and gives it a huge twist. Heisuke realises that Naoko has somehow taken over Monami's body, and that it is Monami who has effectively died, not his wife.
Similar situations have been played for laughs in many Hollywood films, but Higashino tells a serious and wrenching tale here. How does a man keep a marriage alive and stay faithful to a wife whom the world perceives is his daughter? How do the two of them navigate the emotional and ethical minefield that this situation presents, not to mention the social expectations of them? How can Heisuke deal with his loneliness as he watches his wife regress back into her childhood and start her life over again, with him on the periphery?
This novel, while not crime fiction, is every bit as complicated and rewarding as you'd expect from this master of Japanese noir, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the most avid mystery fan intrigued.View all my reviews