The face of Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman was all over the internet in Spring 2019, mixed up in a college admissions bribery scandal. Huffman’s part was small - an SAT exam - but the wider case was a rabbit’s warren. It’s alleged bribes were paid to entrance administrators. That psychologists intentionally misdiagnosed rich kids with learning disabilities, so they got longer to do exams. It’s even claimed the faces of hopeful students were photoshopped onto athletes’ bodies to get them the top college places reserved for sports stars.
“You know how it is with white people. You say it’s race, they tell you you are mistaken. Then they say it’s because of your race when you say it is not.”
So says one of the characters in Happiness. So it is with great caution that I, from my white middle-class perspective, offer my thoughts on this wonderful book about ... race. Or at least immigration.
Admittedly, it covers a million things besides: the core of happiness, the effect of trauma, dementia, grief - for those that have died, for those that have changed, for relationships that change, small pleasures, passing moments. But behind it all is the experience of immigrants.
Happiness follows two main characters from the moment they collide on Waterloo Bridge. Internationally-renowned Ghanaian psychiatrist, Attila, is in town to deliver a keynote on his area of expertise: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, while American scientist J...
Buzz: National Book Award 2017 winner, Women's Prize For Fiction 2018 shortlist, Barack Obama's Best Books of 2017, Margaret Atwood calls it “a must.”
This is the most grittily realistic book I’ve read in a while — it just happens to be a ghost story. Somehow, despite its fantastical content, Sing, Unburied, Sing feels distinctly believable.
The plot is simple; it’s a road trip, there and back again. Thirteen-year-old Jojo, and his little sister Kayla, are dragged across Mississippi by their drug-addicted mum, Leonie, to pick up their dad from prison. At home the two children are mainly looked after by their beloved grandfather, Pop, so being in their mum’s care has its own challenges. It also happens that Parchman prison is the same place Pop spent some years as an innocent teenager. While they’re there this time, Jojo encounters the ghost of one of Pop’s fellow inmates, who then hitches...
Full disclosure: I love Nicole Krauss. I have a history with her. It started when I randomly bought The History of Love on the way to live in the Chilean city of Valparaiso, only to realise later that part of the novel is set there. My husband and I have bonded over her. My daughter is named after one of her characters. I am evangelical about her work in the most annoying of ways. I came to this book open, ready and determined to love it. I did not.
I had also assumed this review would centre around around the inevitable comparisons to Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest tome Here I Am. As her ex-husband’s work –– about a pre-divorce Brooklynite coming to terms with his life, broken relationships, his understanding of Judaism and connection to Israel –– bears a certain resemblance to this book (about a pre-divorce Brooklynite coming to terms with her life, broken relationships, her understandi...