Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sol T. Plaatje's Mhudi gives a colorful depiction of native life in what became South Africa, including early contacts with the Dutch colonists, from a young African woman's viewpoint.

I've read the first two parts of Arturo Barea's memoir, The Forging of a Rebel, including The Forge, about his boyhood in Spain, and The Track, concerning his experiences with the Spanish military in Morocco. The stories he relates are accentuated by his unusual attention to concrete details of description.

Evelyn Waugh's novel about journalists in Africa, Scoop, retains its comic effect despite the author's Tory views.

Henri Pirenne's A History of Europe combines the details of European politics from late Roman times through the Renaissance with an overarching sense of the evolution of social and economic life, resulting in a stylish work of great explanatory power.

Vasily Grossman’s unfinished Forever Flowing (also published as Everything Flows) loses its compelling story of a political prisoner's return from Stalin's camps to Soviet society in angry reflections about the Soviet leadership, and the evils they brought, from Lenin on. But the first half is extraordinarily powerful.

Halldor Laxness' Iceland's Bell has many extraordinary scenes in Iceland and Denmark as he recreates aspects of Iceland's colonial period under Danish rule. His dark humor is alternately darker or more comic.