Another month has come and gone, and more books have been consumed. For the month of July: two novels!
1) A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. This is the nearly-700 page behemoth that took me the better part of two months to read. It is a semi-fictionalized accounting of an assassination attempt on Bob Marley in December of 1976 and the attack’s aftermath in the following decades. This is a huge leap outside of what I normally read, but I am so glad I picked this up after listening to Marlon James speak at the LA Times Festival of Books back in April. To say that this novel is dense is an understatement: the cast of characters is as sprawling as the story – each point of view possessed of their own distinct voice and dialect – and the stream of consciousness narrative style Marlon employs forces you to slow down and take in each and every word, every moment, lest you miss something. But what struck me most was the richness and humanity of each perspective; for no matter whose eyes I read the story through, even those who did despicable, horrible things, I couldn’t help but understand (if not agree with) the reasoning behind their actions. This book is definitely a time investment, but one that is well worth it.
2) The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. An original fairy tale based off of folklore and legend? Count me in. I can’t say I’m all that familiar with Russian folklore, upon which this novel is based, but after reading this I’d love to dive deeper into it. The story here is a bit of a slow burn, but once it starts to pick up about halfway through it doesn’t let up. When I started The Bear and the Nightingale I was under the impression it was a standalone novel; and while it still certainly reads as such, it was to my delight that I learned upon finishing it that there is a sequel coming out later this year. If fairy tales, folklore, myths, and legends (with a dash of the supernatural thrown in) are your jam, pick this one up.