One Day. David Nicholls. Hodder & Stoughton, 2009.
Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their college graduation but know that the next day they must go their separate ways. But July 15, 1988, might be the day that changes their fates, changes everything. “The doors of opportunity are flung wide open” for them as their vice-chancellor said, but who knows where they will be on this day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?
This captivating story, which was made into a successful film directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, follows the two characters each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. Sometimes they are together, sometimes not.
Sons and Lovers. D. H. Lawrence. Penguin Popular Classics, 1995 (first published 1913).
This is the complete and unabridged version of a novel in which Lawrence transforms autobiography into art. Sons and Lovers portrays the sexual and emotional struggle of Paul Morel, caught between the women he attempts to love.
The son of a hard-working, hard-drinking Nottinghamshire coal miner and a refined woman of middle-class aspirations, Paul initially takes his mother’s part in the family battle, until in adolescence he meets and falls in love with a young girl, Miriam, and discovers a new conflict of loyalties.
D. H. Lawrence, although a prolific author of essays, letters, poems, plays, travel books and short stories, is particularly remembered for his ground-breaking psychological novels.
Postwar. A History of Europe since 1945. Tony Judt. Vintage. 2005.
This non-fiction work was shortlisted for the Pulitzer and Samuel Johnson prizes, and won the Arthur Ross Book Award. In 1945 much of Europe had been devastated by war, mass slaughter, bombing and chaos. Large areas of Europe were falling under Soviet control, exchanging one despotism for another.
Today, the Soviet Union is no more and the democracies of the European Union reach as far as the borders of Russia itself. Postwar tells the complex story of how the continent got from there to here. Running right up to the Iraq War and the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the book aspires to make sense of Europe’s recent history and identity, of what it is and has been.
Tony Judt taught at various universities and was a professor at New York University and director of its Erich Maria Remarque Institute (which he founded in 1995) that is dedicated to the study of Europe.
Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Simon Blackburn. Second revised edition; Oxford University Press 2008.
Simon Blackburn was, until recently, professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge.
This concise dictionary contains over 3,000 entries – including 500 biographies of famous and influential philosophers – from all areas of philosophy and related fields of religion, science and logic. It covers the most recent terms and concepts from western, as well as Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Jewish philosophical traditions. Its chronology of philosophical events stretches from 10,000 BC to the present.
Clear definitions make this dictionary an essential resource for students as well as teachers and an ideal introduction for anyone with an interest in philosophy.
The Wooden Village (Rivers of Babylon 2). Peter Pišťanek; translated by Peter Petro. Garnett Press, 2008.
Rivers of Babylon is a trilogy by the talented Slovak prose-writer Peter Pišťanek spanning the period from communism to the post-Velvet-Revolution era of “early democracy” in Slovakia.
This second novel develops the story of the anti-hero of the first, Rácz, an unstoppable idiot of genius, a gangster with no conscience, but centres the plot on a secondary character from the first novel – Freddy Piggybank, a sexually troubled car park attendant.
The Wooden Village, in fact a cluster of kiosks in an old car park, chronicles the chaotic licentiousness of morals and commerce in the Slovakia of the early 1990s, where corruption and opportunism is masked as “democracy”. The book represents a stern demythologisation of a nation once depicted in literature as wise and virtuous.
This column is a selection by The Slovak Spectator of English-language books recently released in Slovakia; it does not represent an endorsement of any of the books selected. The column is prepared in cooperation with the Oxford Bookshop Bratislava.
30. Jan 2012 at 0:00