5 new books to read this week


1. Olga dies dreaming of Xochitl Gonzalez
When you first start reading Olga Dies Dreaming, you might think this is the Puerto Rican version of Crazy Rich Asians – but make no mistake about it. While the expectations and mores of the rich are dissected in the same detail, class politics comes to the fore. Olga is a high-end wedding planner in New York City and her brother Prieto is a congressman for the district he grew up in. Abandoned by their mother – a radical freedom fighter – and neglected by a drug addict father, the impact of their childhood, family secrets, corruption and community pressures are revealed with the novel that steps back and forward in time. At its core, Olga and Prieto struggle with their identities and how the American Dream can work for them. And as a hurricane passes through Puerto Rico, Olga and her brother must survive the storms of their own lives. The writing is cinematic – a TV pilot is already in the works in the US – it’s packed with vivid vignettes of Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the characters have real warmth and depth. You get both romantic and family relationships, as well as the politics of what it’s like to be Latinx in a world where rich white people have power.

2. Anything Could Happen From Lucy Diamond
What if our lives had taken a different path? That’s the idea at the heart of this warm embrace of a novel, taking us from Scarborough to Cambridge to New York. Lucy Diamond’s latest story follows Lara, who unexpectedly got pregnant in her twenties, and the secrets she’s kept since. Her daughter Eliza wants answers about her father, and so begins an uplifting journey of self-discovery for everyone involved. Life can be hit and miss, full of missed opportunities and surprises, and what Diamond does so well in Anything Could Happen is make you truly love the characters – and maybe even consider your own choices of. life. It might seem like a predictable plot at first, but the author gives you enough guessing to make for an engaging and colorful read.

3. In the paradise of Hanya Yanagihara
Like Hanya Yanagihara’s previous novel, the beautiful and extremely depressing A Little Life, To Paradise is gigantic. At over 700 pages, this is the kind of book you’ll want to jot down as you go along with the names and stories of key figures. Yes, it’s so confusing – with three parts, each set in a different time zone, with the same character names – but they’re totally different people. The first is an alternate take on 1890s New York, the second oscillates between America in the 1990s in the grip of the AIDS crisis and Hawaii, and the third is a dystopian look to the future, where the world is ravaged. by pandemics, controlled by a totalitarian state (yes, the premise of that is as on the nose as it sounds). Each story is filled with love and loss, and Yanagihara paints heartbreakingly beautiful portraits of her characters. It’s an astounding read, but ultimately quite unsatisfying – the stories don’t flow together well enough to make up for the confusion over the character names, and each story feels unfinished. You can’t help but wish that Yanagihara wrote three separate books instead of one.

Books to read

4. The Oracle of the Night: The History and Science of Dreams by Sidarta Ribeiro, translated by Daniel Hahn
Sidarta Ribeiro’s Oracle of the Night explores dreams in an extremely deep and multifaceted way, examining the biological, chemical, spiritual, and cultural theories of dreams – and why they occur. His role as a neuroscientist gives him the power to define the scientific understanding of dreams in great detail, but his work is more poetic than simply factual, and the esoteric meaning of the dream is discussed just as convincingly. While the work is dense and his expert understanding of the subject at an academic level is evident, Ribeiro is also a storyteller – and the appealing mystery of the subject is never lost.

5. Jummy at the school of the river by Sabine Adeyinka
Jummy is accepted into River School, a prestigious boarding school for girls in Nigeria, but her best friend Caro doesn’t have the same opportunity – her schooling will end in primary school. Set in the 1990s, River School exceeds Jummy’s expectations – but things take a turn when Caro arrives to work at the school. Jummy knows her bright and talented friend deserves more and brings all of her school friends together to help Caro. This classic boarding school adventure is the Nigerian version of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, based on Sabine Adeyinka’s own experiences. A colorful reading, it also explores the themes of justice, class and poverty. PA / TPN


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