May is the last month of autumn for us in the Southern hemisphere, and what an autumn it’s been. So warm. I shouldn’t be pleased, however, because the cause is worrying … so, let’s get on to something uncontroversial and non-worrying – our Six Degrees of Separation meme. It’s currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Please click the link on her blog-name for her explanation of how it works. Meanwhile, this month’s meme is Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, which, woo hoo, I’ve read, along with all the linked books.
Like last month’s Memoirs of a geisha, I’m guessing most readers, except millennials perhaps, will have read this 1998 book. It was Kingsolver’s fourth novel, and made quite a splash. It’s about a family of missionaries who go to the Belgian Congo in 1959.
Now, I’ve read several novels about missions and missionaries, and most of them critical. The most recent one is, and if you’re Australian you’ve probably guessed it, Claire G. Coleman’s Terra nullius (my review). It’s a debut, dystopian novel by an indigenous Australian author, and aims to encourage Australians to understand what being invaded means.
Another dystopian novel wanting us to understand “something”, is Jane Rawson’s A wrong turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (my review). (I still love this title!) The something she’s warning us about – is the something I alluded to in my opening paragraph – climate change. It’s a great read – serious but with a touch of humour too. But, time now to move on to the next link, which is …
California! California because Rawson’s novel is partly set in San Francisco, 1997 San Francisco in fact, to which a couple of 2030 Melbourne Aussies go. Another book in which an Aussie or two go to California is Sara Dowse’s Schemetime (my review), though her characters are involved in the film industry and they go to the Los Angeles area in the 1960s.
So, where next? Well, Sara Dowse was a member of Canberra’s famous Seven Writers, and so were a couple of other writers who have appeared here, Marion Halligan and Dorothy Johnston. As Halligan has appeared in my Six Degrees a couple of times already, and Johnston hasn’t, I’m going to share it around and choose her new coastal-Victoria-based detective series, which started with Through a camel’s eye (my review).
And now, because, after starting in Africa, we’ve only been to Australia and the USA, I’m going to take us somewhere completely different, to a perfect setting for camels, Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iran. Jamil Ahmad’s debut novel, The wandering falcon (my review) comprises nine stories, the third of which is titled “The death of camels”. This novel explores what happens when political borders are plonked down without regard to people and how they live in a land.
Now, I read Ahmad’s book as part of the 2011 Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize team, so I’m going to end on another memorable book I read for this project, Yan Lianke’s Dreams of Ding village (my review). Set in China, it was inspired by the plasma economy that developed in Henan Province in the early 1990s. It was an engrossing book, and I’d love to read more Lianke.
Well, I’m thrilled that this month we not only managed to keep our travels up, but I also kept the word count down! I fear I’ve become too wordy in my Six Degrees of late. Interestingly, unlike last month, which was historical fiction heavy, this month we dipped our toes into the future a couple of times. The gender balance, though, has been the same, two male authors amongst our six.
What will Kate suggest for June?
And now, my usual question: Have you read The Poisonwood Bible? And regardless, what would you link to?