Friday, 29 January 2010

Stuck for Reading Ideas?

Well, you're in luck! Part 3 of my little story-type thing Far From Home is now available (at this rate, I should be finished just in time for my retirement...). Just click on the picture, and you'll be magically transported, by the magic of hyperlinks, to a wonderful place (Smashwords) where you will be showered with opportunities to download the PDF. For free. Aren't I lovely? Well, it's probably better to read the story before answering that.

By the way, do read the first two parts first - you know it makes sense...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Review Post 5 - Short and Sweet

I'm sorry, but I really don't get short stories. I'm the sort of person who wants to engage in a story and with the characters, and I find that ten pages really doesn't do it for me. Even with my favourite authors, it feels all wrong. Spread over 400 pages, Haruki Murakami's juxtaposition of the bizarre and the utterly ordinary works wonders. In a short story, however, it just seems weird. Full stop.

So what am I to do with someone who is regarded as the forerunner of modern short-story tellers, the writer from just across the Tasman sea, Katherine Mansfield? Mansfield only wrote short stories (nary a novel, or even novella, in sight) and yet is still known and loved today. Well, I'll give it a go...

As you can see to the left, I have acquired a big brick containing all Mansfield's stories (and unfinished fragments), which I am planning to read a bit at a time in chronological order of writing. So I started on page 586 (I felt very strange for a while there).

In a German Pension was Mansfield's first publication, one she later wished she could disown owing to its alleged immaturity. The sketches of life in a typically German spa town are cutting and accurate: the linguistic structures she uses to indicate German thought patterns and cultural behaviour work very well, and the strange, almost scientific curiosity with which the locals regard the foreign intruder is wittily sketched out. Mansfield refused to allow a republication just before the first World War as she was ashamed by both the immaturity and stereotyping of the stories.

Something Childish and Other Stories is a posthumous collection of stories written between Mansfield's first and second published collections. In this (longer) collection, the writer continues with her wry observations of foreign manners and sympathetic portrayals of lonely women in dreary boarding rooms. There are also, however, some shorter (and stranger) morsels to be found.

I liked most of the stories, but my preference was for the first-person tales, where Mansfield's cool, wry Down Under persona is contrasted with self-confident European behaviour. These tales are witty and cutting, and I could well empathise with the writer's desire to be left alone by the tour guides and tourists of European travel spots.

Verdict? The jury's still out on this one. As promised, short and sweet; more on this in the coming months...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Review Post 4 - Just Golden

Around a decade ago now, back when I was living in Japan, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I took the Shinkaisoku express train from Akashi to Kyoto to spend a few days in the ancient capital. It was our second visit, and one of our goals, in addition to visiting Kiyomizudera, was to see the world-famous Kinkakuji, or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, a Buddhist temple containing a gold-coloured three-storey structure in the middle of a pond. Which brings us to today's review...

As you may know, the building I saw towering above the pond was not the one originally constructed, for the very good reason that the original was burned down in 1950 by a mad monk. I kid you not. It was this very event which inspired Yukio Mishima to create a semi-fictional account of what happened, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

In Mishima's version, Mizoguchi, a stuttering youth who has trouble fitting in, is taken by his father (a Buddhist priest) to see the Superior of Kinkakuji in Kyoto. At the father's request, the Superior agrees to take on the young man as an acolyte at the famous temple, possibly with the intention of making him his successor. However, the unfortunate Mizoguchi, having long been dazzled by stories of the famous golden pavilion, gradually slips into an obsession with the building, a state of madness which prevents him from interacting with and succeeding in the real world. One day, standing on a beach on the Sea of Japan after fleeing the temple, he comes to a decision: the Golden Pavilion must burn...

I make no apologies for letting that much of the cat out of the bag. This is an historical event, and any Japanese reader would have the real events firmly in mind when reading Mishima's version. This is not a book about what happened but rather how and why. Over 250 pages, the writer slowly lays bare a character afflicted by the effects of his stutter and several traumatic incidences in his life. Rejection by a girl in his younger days, seeing his mother sleeping with another man in the presence of his father, the death of a close friend: all these things have the effect of turning him away from real life and into an internal fantasy world centred on the golden pavilion.

The famous building somehow becomes inextricably linked in Mizoguchi's mind with beauty, life, death and Mizoguchi himself. At times, he is content with his link to the pavilion, but at others he sees it as the barrier to connecting with the outside world. The young monk's first attempts at sexual encounters fail as he freezes in the presence of female nudity, seeing only the image of the Golden Pavilion; the eternity in an instant obliterates the moment of eternity (no, I don't understand it either).

Throughout the novel, Mishima juxtaposes images of great beauty and those of ugliness. Mizoguchi's friend, Kashiwagi (born with club-feet), pursues beautiful women, aiming to defile their beauty by making them fall in love with his deformity. The superior of Kinkakuji becomes a fat, amorphous representation of ugliness and sin in Mizoguchi's eyes, and his visits to Kyoto's red-light district represent the gulf between the professed Zen lifestyle and the sensuous reality. Decaying flowers, ugly old women and a mangy, battered dog in the street are described in great detail between descriptions of natural beauty. Of course, the biggest juxtaposition of all is that between the shining, ancient beauty of the Golden Pavilion and Mizoguchi's black, ugly soul.

And so it comes to pass that the crazed Mizoguchi does the only thing he can think of to find his way back into the world of the living; he destroys the Golden Pavilion. As he stands on a nearby mountain, watching the flames consume the temple (from the same standpoint where he once saw the city lights of Kyoto), Mizoguchi's decision is justified: he now wants to live again...


Before I go, I'd just like to say a big thanks to Belezza for hosting the challenge. It's been great fun, and it has motivated me to reread some favourites and branch out into a few new areas. Please click on the Japan link for all my posts over the past six months, and I hope to see you all again when the Japanese Literature Challenge 4 begins. Ja mata, ne!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Review Post 3 - Of Novels and Telenovelas

OK, no more poetry - I promise...

On finishing The Iliad, I decided (naturally enough) that it was time to read something a little lighter, so my eyes landed on one of the Roddy Doyle books sprawled across one of my long-suffering bookshelves (note to self - operation Bookshelf Overhaul is long overdue!). Most people will have heard of or read (or, more likely, seen) Doyle's The Commitments, the first of the Barrytown trilogy (also the setting for Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha), and The Van is the third of these novels. Set in Dublin in the wondrous year of 1990, amidst the backdrop of the Republic of Ireland's first trip to the World Cup (something more important than non-football followers could ever imagine), The Van takes Jimmy Rabbitte snr. as its main protagonist, following his experiences from unemployment to setting up a mobile fish and chip shop, the van of the title, with his best friend, Bimbo.

It's written in Doyle's usual funny, yet profound, style, giving us an insight into the day of a man who, undereducated and unemployed, has been left to make his own way through the week, drifting from the local golf course to the park, with the occasional pint or two in the evening when he can afford it. The reader can really empathise with Jimmy and his struggle to adapt to time spent alone after an adult life of work (although I, for one, would be quite happy with a bit more spare time), and his attempts to make himself useful to his family are faintly noble.

Doyle also uses the book to muse on adult male relationships, taking the long-term friendship of Jimmy and Bimbo and subjecting it to the pressure-cooker environment (or should that be deep-frier environment?) of their fledgling business. As the money comes in, emotions start to fray: the role reversal whereby the usually dominant Jimmy becomes Bimbo's side-kick, and then employee, places a great strain on their friendship until the tension becomes too much for other people to bear. Now, how do you resolve something like that...

While the gradual breakdown of a lifelong friendship and the nostalgic joy of reliving the halcyon days of Italia '90 made this a pleasure to read, the enjoyment of this novel was tainted at times by the handling of the role of women. Jimmy and his friends have a voyeuristic tendency, and women (and some girls on the cusp of attaining womanhood) are used mainly as objects to be ogled - and later pursued. I'm not doubting the reality of what Doyle has written; it's easy to believe that someone of a certain age, in a time and setting far from today's, would act as Jimmy would and not really think anything of it. It just made me feel a little uncomfortable (and I have seen a couple of reviewers who have agreed with me). That may well have been the point, but this book could well have done with a little more female perspective. Where I felt sorry for Jimmy towards the start of the book, by the end I was a little ambivalent towards him and his greasy endeavours. Which is a shame.


One author who never finds me ambivalent is Thomas Hardy, whose works I started reading again last year (and will continue to enjoy in 2010). After the rolling farmlands of Far from the Madding Crowd and the ominous heaths of The Return of the Native, this time it is the woody glades of Wessex which take centre stage in his novel The Woodlanders.

Grace Melbury, educated beyond her station by her ambitious father, returns to the sylvan Wessex village of Little Hintock unable to fulfil the family promise of a marriage to Giles Winterbourne. Instead, she succumbs to the advances of a local doctor, an outsider from a higher social background, but with lower morals. I think we can all see that there won't be many happily ever afters here...

It's a lovely little read, if not a patch on his major works, and, as always, you can almost imagine yourself transported to the leafy glades by Hardy's measured prose (even if he never uses a couple of short words where a complicated - and occasionally invented - Greek-based word will do). The book abounds with love triangles and unrequited passions, and the moral seems to be to choose wisely before rushing into wedlock, especially if you're marrying above/below your station. Hardy also reflects on the unfairness of the law, particularly as regards the differing ease with which men and women were able to obtain divorces in olden days (I wonder if he'd be happier now...). Something to reflect on when remembering your wedding vows.


Where Hardy is restraint and pastoral calm, my most recent book is passion and despair, usually in equal and mixed up proportions. Just as you may have heard that some bloke called Shakespeare is a fairly famous writer of English, you've probably come across the name Goethe in the context of German literature. As an avid reader, and a modern languages graduate, I am a little ashamed to say that I had never read anything by the great man - until now, that is.

Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) is an epistolary (or letter form) novel, in which the Werther of the title, a young, romantic German, pours out the contents of his overflowing heart to his friend Wilhelm. Escaping city life for nature, Werther settles in a small town where he meets the angelic Lotte - and promptly falls head-over-heels in love. Sadly, despite their mutual understanding and attraction, their relationship can only be platonic as Lotte is promised to another man. So begins Werther's slow spiral into depression, madness and suicide...

This novel is one of the most famous Sturm und Drang works, and it is certainly stormy. On reading the first part of the novel, I was blown away by the intensity of the writing and the openness of emotion which Goethe breathed into his literary alter-ego. Werther is actually a mixture of the young Goethe's own obsession with a young woman called Lotte and the fate of a friend who ended his life at an early age. Although embarrassed by this early work later in life (he was only 25 when he wrote this - bloody geniuses...), it was an instant Europe-wide hit and found many admirers and Werther copycats. Of course, the church was not so happy with Goethe as some of those copycats went a little too far; in fact, the work was seen as an apology for those committing suicide.

A word of warning for anyone wanting to read this book in German; written in 1774, you may be a little surprised by what you see on the page. The original text varies ever so slightly from modern German, with several common and consistent spelling conventions different from today's, slight grammatical variations and a few vocabulary peculiarities. In fairness though, once you have waded through a few pages (removing redundant 'h's and swapping a few vowels around), it is surprisingly easy to read, provided you have a fairly high standard of German (and a high tolerance for chest beating, hair pulling and teeth gnashing).
Is it any good? Definitely. The prose is breath-takingly vivid at times, and Goethe drags the reader along as Werther swings between the highs of his halcyon days in Lotte's company to the lows of his attempts to come to terms with the impossibility of his desires. While the cynic in me did at times long to give him a slap and say "get over it, you cretin", it was a small voice at the back of my head and was usually drowned out by the passion Werther poured into his outbursts of grief and declarations of love.

Ready for Faust? I might give it a few months...


From the sublime to the ridiculous we go as I explain what that i-Pod is doing amongst the books in my post photo. Well, having eventually succumbed to the temptation of upgrading my trusty, battered old i-Pod Mini to a sleek new Classic before Christmas, and having finally got around to upgrading my internet connection to Broadband, I am now able to download video podcasts (and able to time that process with a watch rather than a calendar). Which brings me to Alisa - Folge deinem Herzen (Alisa - Follow your Heart), a telenovela which has been running on the German channel ZDF since March last year.

Now, you may not think of me as the type of person to be obsessed with kitschy telly programmes (and you'd be right - I'm far too intellectual for all that. No, really...), but watching rubbish is a great way to practice languages. I think I got more from watching a couple of years of the soap opera Unter Uns than from three years of German at university. As a language teacher myself, I encourage students to watch programmes like Neighbours and Home and Away as they model the kind of language people use every day - and there's a limit to how much news the average language student really wants to watch.

Anyway, Alisa runs for about 40 minutes every day, Monday to Friday, and follows the trials and tribulations of Alisa Lenz, who has come back to live with her adopted parents in the small town of Schönroda after a failed business (and relationship) in Berlin. The angelic-looking Alisa, played by Teresa Scholze (who, were she British, would be a certainty to be playing Cinderella in pantomime next Christmas), stumbles across Christian, a sensitive, good-looking man (I don't know the actor's name, but I bet he's played Prince Charming a few times in his career) who happens to be the son and heir of the powerful local Castellhof family. Can you see where this is going yet?

In her first week in Schönroda, Alisa manages to seriously annoy Christian's uncle (who is then revealed to be the one interviewing her for her new job), save Christian's sister from drowning and get on the wrong side of Christian's fiancee, Ellen (who, conveniently, is as dark and brooding as Alisa is blonde and bubbly; good witch - evil witch, anyone?). Throw in a stereotypically over-exuberant Italian woman who, despite speaking perfect German, has a huge accent and starts every sentence with an Italian word, a mean supervisor who has been instructed to get rid of Alisa at all costs and a family doctor who appears to be keeping a dark secret about one of the Castellhofs, and you have the set-up for the rest of the show. Oh, did I mention that Alisa accidentally saw Ellen in flagrante with Christian's Uncle Oskar in his office on her first day of work? Now if this series does not end in a wedding, I'll eat my i-Pod.

While it's depressing how low your standards sink when you're looking for free programmes in a foreign language, I must confess that it's all good entertainment. Yes, the dialogue is stilted, the characters are caricatures, and everyone has more secrets than I could hope to accumulate in a lifetime. Still, it's a pleasant way to while away an idle hour, and we can't be reading Goethe all the time now, can we?

Oh, alright, I admit it: I'm addicted...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Review Post 2 - The Iliad for Dummies

The famous name of Homer is, to many people now,
Best known from television shows, so I will tell you how
Just thrice one thousand years ago a poem he did write
In which were rang'd both men and gods laid bare in all their might
Nine years of brutal, bloody war had stain'd Troy's sandy beach
Where fell full legions to the ground, of pain and sadness each
Of these proud nations had their fill, the Trojans and the Greeks,
As Paris guards the golden prize whom Menelaus seeks
Apollo frowns now on the Greeks and will not heed their pleas
'Til Agamemnon fair Chrysa (as prize whom he did seize)
Returns to noble Ilion, to which he doth assent
But only if his loss is made good from another's tent
And thus takes he Briseis from Achilles' fair-won spoil
(for which upon the bloody fields of Troy did he long toil)
On hearing this the demigod retired with all his men
Forebearing help until his prize be given him again
This argument between the kings thus sets the bloody scene
Achilles' lack upsets the scale of parity between
The wrong'd Greek defenders and the house of Ilion
And causes the invaders grief the more the war draws on

Of course this famous story was described in the film Troy
(A fairly silly movie which was written just for joy)
And in the film the main place where it is so well at odds
With the poem is how it lacks all mention of the Gods
And yet The Iliad is more a story telling when
Olympus saw internal feuds than one of warlike men
The warriors are playthings for the deities above
Who plot and help their favourites (when not held back by Jove)
Thus thwarting the dear plans of the scheming heav'nly throng
While sending noble warriors to deaths retold in song
Minerva, Juno and Neptune all back the Grecian quest
While Phoebus, Mars and Venus help the Trojans foil their best
Efforts to breach the Illian walls, to regain what they lack
And end the near decade-long fight by winning Helen back
The Iliad tells but one short part of the long Trojan war
With focus on the consequence of wrath Achilles bore
Toward King Agamemnon for his regal pride and greed
Which settled death and sorrowing on many men indeed
A tale of bitter, bloody war it is, but still it sings
Of noble deeds and sacrifice for country and for kings

Although in many varied forms in English has been told
This story, I eschewed the prose and chose to be so bold
And read George Chapman's famous verse translation (as you see,
Writing fourteen full syllables per line rubbed off on me!)
His whole life's work this noble task he did decide to make
Translating Homer's famous work for posterity's sake
Believe you me, it's not as simple as you would expect
To fit ideas you wish to say (and not be indirect)
Into the chosen length of line, but Chapman used the gimick
Of squeezing awkward names in place by use of patronymic
Hence Agamemnon, King of Kings, the most important Greek
Is known as strong Atrides did poor Chapman more space seek
This can be quite confusing for a modern reader who
Unused to Grecian customs is (at times I knew not who
Was killing whom upon Troy's fields). The writer also tries
To use both Greek and Roman names his issues to disguise
With deities and syllables and keeping perfect time -
I sympathise with poor Chapman and his efforts at rhyme.
As we reflect upon the fate of these unfortunate sods
The moral of the story is DO NOT FUCK WITH THE GODS...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Review Post 1 - Religion, Sex and Cross-Dressing

Welcome to Year 2 of my little blog, dear reader. There'll be something old (the jokes), something new (the reviews), something borrowed (any decent opinions I can steal from other people) but nothing blue (not my style - sorry). Don't worry: this isn't a proposal...

There will be a few changes around here for 2010 though. 2009 saw me read and review 91 books in, at times, exhaustive depth, something which will be beyond me this year (unless I only read books longer than 600 pages in length). Instead, I will be blogging at regular intervals with summaries of what I've been reading, with the occasional full, in-depth analysis. Unless, that is, I change my mind. It's my blog, and I'll do what I want to.

So, taking advantage of the fact that I will not be blogging like it's 2009, I started the New Year by looking at a lovely style of book, but one I avoided a little towards the end of last year for fear of having to write a full review every twelve hours: the novella. The exact definition of a novella varies, but I believe it is any book which you look at and think "Well, I'm glad I didn't pay full price for that". As alluded above though, there is one problem with novellas; you tend to get through them very quickly, which is why I find myself about to tell you about my first three books of 2010 - after three days. I really need to slow down...


My first book for the year is an old friend and the first in a series which I will be rereading over the first half of 2010. Anthony Trollope's delightful book, The Warden, is the first of his Chronicles of Barsetshire, the series which brought him fame. I first came across this book when living in Japan (now about ten years ago - how time flies...), stumbling across it in a second-hand English bookshop in Kobe, reading it voraciously and then scouring the shelves for the other books in the series. I was put off reading it when I went through my first real bout of classic literature reading in England by the description of its taking place in a rural clerical setting, but despite the prominence of Bishops, Archdeacons and Prebendaries, it has very little to do with religion and everything to do with the church.

The core of the book is an attempt by an over-zealous reformer, John Bold, to look into the management of an almshouse for poor workers, run by the Anglican church in the fictional city of Barchester and overseen by a warden, Reverend Septimus Harding. Bold, with the aid of a cunning solicitor and the greed of some of the almsmen, manages to set the national newspapers onto the poor unsuspecting warden, who stands accused of profiting from money set aside originally for the benefit of the poor of the city. The full might of the Church of England (in the shape of the formidable Archdeacon Grantly and his father, the slightly less formidable, but much nicer, Bishop of Barchester) gathers itself to see off the challenge from London and the secular world, but these legal machinations go over the head of the sweet old warden, for whom the question is not so much of proving himself to be right as of being so. What follows is a sketch of a good man trying to stay true to his conscience in the face of opposition from family, friends, employers and public opinion: can the warden throw away his livelihood merely to ease his conscience?


Our second book also deals with matters of character, albeit of a slightly less noble kind. 'On Chesil Beach' is the shortest of the three books reviewed today, 162 pages long but with the kind of font size last seen in a teenager's deluded attempt to convince their teacher that they had fulfilled the word count criteria. If you're going to charge full price for that, you'd better make sure that the book is good, and McEwan doesn't disappoint; this is well worth reading (especially if, like me, you get it second hand). Edward and Florence are two English newlyweds, dining in a hotel on their honeymoon, ready to start their lives together. This being 1962, however, what should have been a pleasant meal is, instead, fraught by sexual tension and fear: you see, the wedding night will be the first time for both of them...

McEwan masterfully sketches out the nervous behaviour, suppressed sexual urges and contradictory actions of the confused young couple, interspersing his running commentary on the lead up to the main event with flashbacks to the couple's early lives, their chance meeting in Oxford and their long, slow courtship. As the reader is allowed to witness what led to the current moment, the two move off to the bedroom to consummate their marriage. This may sound slightly voyeuristic (if not pornographic - and there are a couple of extremely memorable scenes), but it is, in fact, a highly moving and somewhat sad portrayal of the complex courtship dance of two creatures trapped in a traditional society, where matters are not discussed until the last possible minute.


To say more would detract from the enjoyment of the book, so I'll just leave the young couple in the bedroom and move on to the next story - which is a very different kettle of fish indeed. If only Edward and Florence had been around in the twenties heyday of the Bloomsbury group of writers, there would have been little embarrassment in bedroom matters (although there may well have been a third party present, something which might have soured the wedding night somewhat). Virginia Woolf, feminist icon, genius writer and general woman about town, was not backward about coming forward and was a solid believer in her group's relaxed attitudes towards relationships. So much so, in fact, that she created the trans-genre (and trans-gender) work Orlando as a tribute to her lover, Vita Sackville-West (nicer than the usual box of chocolates, but a little more effort).

Orlando is a young nobleman, born in Elizabethan times, who somehow manages to end the novel in 1928 - a pregnant, married woman. Over the course of the 160 pages, (s)he engages in various affairs, attempts to write plays and poetry, ponders the meaning of life, travels to Constantinople (where the world's first sex change - without surgery - takes place) and makes the acquaintance of three centuries worth of monarchs and literary icons. It's all a bit daft at times (and Woolf herself thought of it as a recreation from her usual writing), but this traveller's tale, reminiscent of Don Quixote or Candide (Woolf also meant it as a bit of a tribute to Defoe, drawing on the style of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders) does have a serious side.

In addition to the thinly-veiled allusions to Sackville-West, the 'biography' looks at the evolution over the centuries of attitudes towards women and the societal constraints forced upon the fairer sex. On reentering civilisation as a woman, Orlando becomes aware of the many barriers separating women and free will, suffering especially under the stifling atmosphere of the 'moral' Victorian era which compels her to adapt and conform to the prevailing norms. Well, as much as a trans-gender, cross-dressing nobleman/woman is able to anyway...

The book is a quick and easy read, and the plot fairly races along, despite the more serious issues threaded around the hilarity. This would be a very good introduction to Woolf before diving into her more usual stream-of-consciousness style, even if it is one of her slighter and more whimsical works!

All for now; I hope I haven't disappointed my readers by fitting three reviews into one. As for my next review, I'll leave you now with a little clue. There was an Englishman, an Australian and an American with a confused Tory on the beach... No idea what I'm talking about? Then you'll just have to wait until next time...

Monday, 4 January 2010

'Pinball, 1973' Update!!!

Would you believe it? I have (unconfimed) news that Kodansha has started reprinting the English translation of Haruki Murakami's second novel 'Pinball, 1973'! This means no more downloading pirated PDFs or spending your inheritance on a first edition! Check your friendly e-Bay and Amazon sites to have a look: more news as it comes..

Friday, 1 January 2010

2010 Challenges

Here's how I'm faring with the challenges I've signed up for this year :)

Japanese Literature Challenge 4 - June 1st, 2010 - January 31st, 2011
- Read at least one Japanese book!
1) Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki
2) Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto
3) South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
4) Quicksand by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
5) Botchan by Natsume Soseki
6) The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories by Various Writers
7) The Key by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
8) Diary of a Mad Old Man by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
9) Kusamakura by Natsume Soseki
10) Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World by Haruki Murakami
11) The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe
12) Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

Aussie Author Challenge - January 1st, 2010 - December 31st, 2010
- Eight books by at least five different Australian authors.
1) The True Story of Butterfish by Nick Earls
2) His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
3) Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas
4) Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas
5) The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
6) Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
7) The People's Train by Tom Keneally
8) The Jesus Man by Christos Tsiolkas
9) Café Scheherazade by Arnold Zable

Chunkster Challenge - January 1st, 2010 - December 31st, 2010
- Read six books of 450 pages or more.
1) The Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki (530)
2) Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (499)
3) A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul (564)
4) Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (557)
5) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (529)
6) The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope (663)
7) The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (496)
8) The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope (712)
9) Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (528)
10) The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (469)
11) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (614)
12) Devils by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (694)
13) An Equal Music by Vikram Seth (484)
14) American Gods by Neil Gaiman (635)
15) He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope (823)
16) Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (759)

2010 Reading List

Click on the link to read the review :)

93 - Emma by Jane Austen
92 - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
91 - Purge by Sofi Oksanen
90 - Saturday by Ian McEwan
89 - Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
88 - Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
87 - Cafe Scheherazade by Arnold Zable
86 - He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope
85 - Selected Shorter Fiction by Elizabeth Gaskell
84 - Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
83 - Kusamakura by Natsume Soseki
82 - American Gods by Neil Gaiman
81 - Diary of a Mad Old Man by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
80 - The Daylight and the Dust by Janet Frame
79 - An Equal Music by Vikram Seth
78 - Der Erlkönig by Michel Tournier
77 - The Story of Philosophy by Brian Magee
76 - Devils by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
75 - The Key by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
74 - The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
73 - The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories by Various Writers
72 - King Lear by William Shakespeare
71 - Le Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
70 - The Lifted Veil & Brother Jacob by George Eliot
69 - The Jesus Man by Christos Tsiolkas
68 - Wo Warst Du, Adam? by Heinrich Böll
67 - Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
66 - Botchan by Natsume Soseki
65 - The People's Train by Tom Keneally
64 - A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
63 - Quicksand by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
62 - Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf
61 - A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
60 - Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
59 - South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
58 - Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto
57 - Drei Kameraden by Erich Maria Remarque
56 - The Innocent by Ian McEwan
55 - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
54 - Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
53 - Die vertauschten Köpfe & Das Gesetz by Thomas Mann
52 - Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
51 - Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki
50 - The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
49 - A Flag on the Island by V.S. Naipaul
48 - The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
47 - The Waves by Virginia Woolf
46 - Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
45 - Thaw by Fiona Robyn
44 - Mr Stone and the Knights Companion by V.S. Naipaul
43 - Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
42 - after the quake by Haruki Murakami
41 - Gladius Dei/ Tristan/ Schwere Stunde/ Der Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann
40 - La Chute by Albert Camus
39 - Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
38 - The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
37 - I Am A Cat by Soseki Natsume
36 - Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas
35 - The Suffrage of Elvira by V.S. Naipaul
34 - Der Besuch der Alten Dame by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
33 - Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
32 - The Dove's Nest and other Stories & Unfinished Stories by Katherine Mansfield
31 - Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
30 - Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson
29 - After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima
28 - Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
27 - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
26 - Life is Elsewhere by Milan Kundera
25 - Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas
24 - His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
23 - The True Story of Butterfish by Nick Earls
22 - After Dark by Haruki Murakami
21 - number9dream by David Mitchell
20 - L'Étranger by Albert Camus
19 - Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
18 - Bliss and Other Stories & The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield
17 - A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
16 - Paula Spencer by Roddy Doyle
15 - The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle
14 - Irisches Tagebuch by Heinrich Böll
12a - The Makioka Sisters by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
12 - Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera
11 - Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
10 - Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
9 - In a German Pension & Something Childish and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield
8 - The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima
7 - Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
6 - The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
5 - The Van by Roddy Doyle
4 - The Iliad by Homer
3 - Orlando by Virginia Woolf
2 - On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
1 - The Warden by Anthony Trollope