It’s August and the last official month of winter. I’m happy, happy, happy. I’m also happy that it’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation. How quickly it comes around. And, like last month, I’ve read the starting book. First though, the formalities. Six Degrees of Separation is a meme that is currently hosted by Kate (booksaremyfavouriteandbest). Clicking on the link on her blog-name will take you to her explanation of how it works.
So now, the meme. The book Kate has chosen for August is Ian McEwan’s Atonement. I love this choice, not just because I’ve read it, but because I like Ian McEwan, and I liked this book. Also, it offers so many options for linking, including one that I considered, which was good film adaptations. I loved the clever soundtrack, for a start.
However, I decided on a different tack, and I hope this isn’t a spoiler. I don’t think it is. My linking point is that it’s a metafictional work, that is, it self-consciously lets the reader know that it is a work of fiction. Another metafictional novel that contains stories within stories is Markus Zusak’s The book thief (my review). If you’ve read it, you’ll know that Death reminds us regularly that he is telling us a story.
Besides being metafictional, The book thief tells the story of young people, particularly Liesel the titular book thief, and their experience of World War 2. Another book set in World War 2 whose protagonists are young is Anthony Doerr’s All the light we cannot see (my review). A moving book, that won America’s Pulitzer Prize.
So far I’ve linked on technique and protagonists, but now I’m moving to title. Another novel about World War 2 (and that, coincidentally, also has metafictional elements) is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is illuminated (my review). My linking point though is the reference to light in the title!
Now, one of the main characters in Foer’s novel is a translator. Another book with a translator as the protagonist is Rabih Alameddine’s An unnecessary woman (my review). She’s not a professional translator, but has done it in her spare time for much of her adult life. I loved reading, among other things, about her technique for translating.
Michelle de Kretser’s The life to come (my review) is a book in five parts. The protagonist of Part 3 is Céleste. She is also a translator. She describes her technique for translating too – though unlike Alameddine’s translator, she does it for a living.
And now, all too soon, we’ve come to the end. The life to come is one of six books shortlisted for this year’s Miles Franklin Award. I’ve only read two, so far, from the shortlist, so I’ve decided to make my final link the other one, Catherine McKinnon’s Storyland (my review). I have, however, an ulterior motive for linking to this book, which is that I don’t think it’s getting enough notice so I’d like to give it another plug. It’s an intriguingly structured book, and tells a provocative story about Australia.
Well, this month we started our journey in England, and then moved to Germany, France and Ukraine, all of these trips involving, in some way or another, World War 2. We then hopped over to Lebanon in the Middle East, before arriving in Australia with de Kretser, though she did take us on brief forays to Paris and Sri Lanka. Finally, we landed back in Australia where we traversed a thousand years from the late 1700s to 2717. As for gender balance, four of my six books are by men. A major departure from the usual proportion in my Six Degrees posts, but that’s okay every now and then!
And now, my usual question: Have you read Atonement? And regardless, what would you link to?