Tuesday reads


Bees of peoples

Once upon a time, in China, poem researchers visited villages to take note of their "poems, songs and feelings". They were welcomed by villagers with wine and treats, for villagers knew they were there to listen and then "turn into words the history of a people".

Lives behind closed borders

The American journalist Barbara Demick followed six North-Korean citizens over a period of 15 years and tells their stories in Nothing to Envy. The stories are of hardship, hunger, obedience and, ultimately, escape of probably the most closed regime in the world.

The anti-miracle

As children, we all heard stories of those mysterious times when animals could speak. And we all learned something from them. As adults, though, not so much. Pepetela's A Montanha da Água Lilás (The Mountain of the Violet Water, in English) is, to me, a fabulous fable about modern times. I would dare to say: about how mankind got to where it is today.

Taking down the walls

Hong Kong, 1995, two years before the handover to China. In The Unwalled City, Xu Xi captures real lives, dilemmas and ambiguities of Hong Kong people, set in an East meets West reality, and about to experience something that will alter their fate forever.
Friend of My Youth Alice Munro

Generous tales

Original, yet close. Lively, yet nostalgic. Complex, yet clear. In Friend of My Youth, Alice Munro was as generous as an author could be.
Yu Li Confessions of an Elevator Operator

A satire of modern China

Yu Li: Confessions of an Elevator Operator is an hilarious novel, reflecting on modern China's political, social and urban developments, through the eyes of a candid and virgin 30-year-old.
Haruki Murakami Hear the Wind Sing

The echo from a bat

Have you ever wondered about that first tiny moment that led an acclaimed writer to start writing books? Hear the Wind Sing, by Haruki Murakami, feels like a special crystal ball: it allows you to go back to where the author's career began, but it also acts as a classic future-telling crystal ball, as you get to identify the preliminary traces that would later on mark the author's writing.
Leave me Alone

A tale of debauchery

Funny, cynical, critical and, apparently, a faithful portrait of what is happening in modern age China. Leave me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu, by the author Murong Xuecung, reflects on the dramas of three sordid characters living in today's Chengdu, one of China's most populated city.
The Noise of Time - Julian Barnes

Power in time

The Noise of Time, by Julian Barnes, is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Powerful in telling. Powerful in writing. Powerful in truth. The book tells the story of Russian composer Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich (1906-1975) and the relation between art and power.

A tale of misfortunes

It is definitely one of the best books I have ever read about this part of History of China. Fortress Besieged, by Qian Zhongshu, follows the adventures and misfortunes of Fang Hung-chien, set in eve of the Sino-Japanese War.

On babysitting grandmas

How to Babysit a Grandma, written by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Lee Wildish, bets on a humorous role reversal to tell the oldest tale of love between two generations — that of grandparents and grandchildren.