Literary Something New Under the Sun • June 2019
#1  sun surfer 06-01-2019, 08:18 AM
Help select what we'll read and discuss next!

The topic is Something New Under the Sun.

Some may think there is nothing new under the sun, but we beg to differ. This topic may include any new or contemporary books as well as any books about something new, novel or innovative. It may also include books with 'sun' in the title, books relating to the concept of 'under the sun', or however else you may interpret the topic for inspiration.

Detailed nominating and voting guidelines can be found here. Basically, nominations are open for about four days and each person may nominate up to three literary selections which will go automatically to the vote. Voting by post then opens for four days, and a voter may give each nomination either one or two votes but only has a limited number of votes to use which is equal to the number of nominations minus one. Any questions, feel free to ask.

We hope that you will read the selection with us and join in the discussion.


Nominations are complete. Initial voting is complete. Run-off voting is complete. Final results-

#2  sun surfer 06-02-2019, 12:55 PM
I'll start with Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. It's sort of a Polish literary mystery/crime novel and it is a Man Booker International Prize nominee for this year. Goodreads 278 pages, 2009, Poland

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind...

A deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? it asks. Who is worthy of a voice?

#3  AnotherCat 06-02-2019, 09:41 PM
I have been racking my brains over what to nominate under this topic and it is a bit slow going. One book keeps coming to mind though, it is a history and it is 684 pages (in paperback, excluding notes and index) but I think it may be of limited interest so a bit of a long shot; it may not even qualify as literature, however it is still in print over 35 years since publication and has been a best seller. It is arranged in four major sections which stand alone if wanted.

There is also a little personal story attached. Quite some years back (Yes, quite some ) I was flying with a client from NZ to Europe and he was engrossed in a book which he described to me. It was on sale in the Newark terminal en route and I immediately read it from cover to cover.

The Discoverers; A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself - Daniel J. Boorstin (it doesn't seem to show on Amazon as an ebook here in NZ)[/url]

#4  AnotherCat 06-02-2019, 11:00 PM
Two more:

Blood Meridian (or The Evening Redness in the West) - Cormac McCarthy e_West

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

#5  sun surfer 06-04-2019, 11:18 AM
Interesting nominations, AnotherCat. I'm also having a time with the nominations, and finding the path of least resistance is going with something contemporary for 'new', heh, so it's nice to see you found three nominations interpreting the topic in other ways. I don't think I've ever even heard of the Boorstin one but it looks very interesting. Definitely going on my tbr! I've only read one Cormac McCarthy, The Road, which I really liked, though I've also seen the film of No Country for Old Men which I also really liked, and Blood Meridian has been on my periphery for a long time now. I read Brave New World at school a long time ago, but honestly I remember very little about it aside from the overarching plot, so I'll happily re-read it if it wins.

As for my first nomination everyone, I'm finding something strange. I originally quickly checked the Amazon UK site for Kindle and it is available there. However, it's come to my attention that apparently it doesn't generally release until August (the English translation; the original Polish version has been out many years). So, I did some research and the results are that it's available as an ebook on the UK site and the Australia site now, but not the US or Canadian sites until August. As well, the paperback is available on the UK and Canadian sites now, but not the US site until August, and the hardback isn't available anywhere until August. I don't know if this is a mistake or what's going on, but apparently the technical release date for the English translation is supposed to be August. It seems it is actually available though, as it's possible to view samples of the book, and on the Canadian site it even says they're down to less than 10 copies left of the paperback so people seem to be already buying it. Also I've just checked Kobo for the UK and the US and it's available to buy now in the UK but not the US, which is the same as on Amazon. Anyway, I suppose I'll leave the nomination up for now, but if the rest of you think it should be removed because of the strange availability then I'm fine with that.

#6  Spinnenmonat 06-04-2019, 02:49 PM
1. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

3. The Bride of Lammermoor by Walter Scott

#7  Bookworm_Girl 06-04-2019, 04:43 PM
You all have given me some inspiration. Interesting choices! I will be post my nominations tonight.

#8  Bookworm_Girl 06-05-2019, 01:03 AM
My first nomination is The Italian Hours by Henry James. When I think of places under the sun, I think of traveling through Italy. Something old is new again? It tells of a bygone era of Italy in the 19th century, which is not something I am familiar with.

From Goodreads:
"The charm of certain vacant grassy spaces, in Italy, overfrowned by masses of brickwork that are honeycombed by the suns of centuries, is something that I hereby renounce once for all the attempt to express; but you may be sure that whenever I mention such a spot enchantment lurks in it." —Henry James

In these essays on travels in Italy written from 1872 to 1909, Henry James explores art and religion, political shifts and cultural revolutions, and the nature of travel itself. James's enthusiastic appreciation of the unparalleled aesthetic allure of Venice, the vitality of Rome, and the noisy, sensuous appeal of Naples is everywhere marked by pervasive regret for the disappearance of the past and by ambivalence concerning the transformation of nineteenth-century Europe.

#9  Bookworm_Girl 06-05-2019, 01:09 AM
The second nomination is The Early Stories of Truman Capote. It is an interpretation of something new that applies to early works by a famous author recently discovered and published. Since he was young, they are a little raw and undeveloped compared to his best-known works, but it might be an interesting read.

From Goodreads:
The early fiction of one of the nation’s most celebrated writers, Truman Capote, as he takes his first bold steps into the canon of American literature

Recently rediscovered in the archives of the New York Public Library, these short stories provide an unparalleled look at Truman Capote writing in his teens and early twenties, before he penned such classics as Other Voices, Other Rooms, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and In Cold Blood. This collection of more than a dozen pieces showcases the young Capote developing the unique voice and sensibility that would make him one of the twentieth century’s most original writers.

In these stories we see early signs of Capote’s genius for creating unforgettable characters built of complexity and yearning. Young women experience the joys and pains of new love. Urbane sophisticates are worn down by cynicism. Children and adults alike seek understanding in a treacherous world. There are tales of crime and violence; of racism and injustice; of poverty and despair. And there are tales of generosity and tenderness; compassion and connection; wit and wonder. Above all there is the developing voice of a writer born in the Deep South who will use and eventually break from that tradition to become a literary figure like no other.

#10  sun surfer 06-05-2019, 12:09 PM
All right, seeing no objections I'll leave in my other nomination. Here are my final two:

Under the Jaguar Sun by Italo Calvino. Goodreads 86 pages, 1986, Italy & Cuba

“The thought . . . called up the flavors of an elaborate and bold cuisine, bent on making the flavors’ highest notes vibrate, juxtaposing them in modulations, in chords, and especially in dissonances that would assert themselves as an incomparable experience.” — From Under the Jaguar Sun

These intoxicating stories delve down to the core of our senses. Taste, hearing, and smell. Amid the flavors of Mexico’s fiery chilies and spices, a couple on holiday discovers dark truths about the maturing of desire in the title story, “Under the Jaguar Sun.” In “A King Listens,” a gripping portrait of a frenzied mind, the menacing echoes in a huge palace spur a tyrant’s thoughts to the heights of paranoid intensity. “The Name, the Nose” drives to a startling conclusion as men across time and space pursue the women whose aromas have enchanted them. Mordant and deliciously offbeat, this trio of tales is a treat from a master of short fiction.

“[Calvino is] a learned, daring, ingeniously gifted magus . . . Under the Jaguar Sun . . . fuses fable with neuron . . . The reader is likely to salivate.” — Cynthia Ozick, New York Times Book Review

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi. Goodreads 247 pages, 2010, Oman

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019

Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present.

Elegantly structured and taut, Celestial Bodies is a coiled spring of a novel, telling of Oman’s coming-of-age through the prism of one family’s losses and loves.

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