Tag Archives: prodigy

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

DATE FINISHED: June 21st, 2012 

RATED: *****

SYNOPSIS:  Ludo is a child prodigy with a voracious thirst for knowledge; his mother, Sybilla (equally gifted), is trying to earn enough money for them to get by through mind-numbing, soul-destroying work, whilst finding the energy and inspiration to feed both of their appetites for language and literature. Sybilla tries to fill the father-shaped gap in Ludo’s life with a video of the Japanese classic, The Seven Samurai. But Ludo just wants a father, and as soon as he is old enough, determines to find one.

THOUGHTS:  At first told from Sybilla’s perspective, a torrent of thoughts and ideas are unleashed resulting in a slightly fragmented narrative mirroring the distracted concentration one imagines the harried mother of a (maddeningly voracious) child might experience. Sometimes sentences are left hanging mid-flow Read more of this post

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

DATE FINISHED: September 11th, 2011

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS:  Kimberley Chang and her mother have high hopes for their new life in America, despite barely speaking a word of English between them.  However, it soon becomes clear that the aunt who paid for their passage has no qualms about leaving them to live in a slum rental property without heating, and having them work long factory hours for pitiful remuneration.  Will they still find a way to live the American Dream?

THOUGHTS:  The narrative is quiet and understated; an easy read.  But Kimberley and her mother face their challenges so stoically, it is hard to see them as challenges.   Read more of this post

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

DATE FINISHED: March 11th, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS: When 15 year old Christopher discovers his neighbour’s dog, killed with a garden fork, he begins an investigation to uncover the culprit. Instead, he accidentally uncovers family secrets which have been kept from him & turn his ordered life upside down. Christopher is highly intelligent but has an inability to read emotions, so the story (told in the first person) is peppered with his theories & favourite diversions as well as numerous misunderstandings.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

The Emigre by Joan Brady

DATE FINISHED: March 6th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: Nikolas Strakhan is a lifelong conman – a talented but failed musician, did he sell his soul to the devil? Either way, he is the black sheep of his extended family, living by his charm & wit. When he turns up in the London papers about to conduct an orchestra, scientist Evie (Bored at work – and, to be honest, also with her boyfriend) becomes fascinated by the exploits of her boyfriend’s curiously charismatic, overweight uncle.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post