Tuesday, October 7, 2008

three books, three points of view, one subject : Immigration

I had read recently three books about life from the perspective of an immigrant’s view, and I'd like to share my impressions with you. Again, these are not professional reviews, for I have no idea how to write one.

Vikram Seth’ s ”Two Lives”:

I had been mostly impressed how well he captures Henny’s perspective on life and things, though she belonged to a different culture. I had benefited from the first part that details the time the author spent with Shanti Uncle and Aunt Henny, from someone that has not much knowledge about Indian culture it helped me comprehend the second part better, especially Shanti’s perspective.
A strong point of the book , one that the author makes in a very perceptive manner: how the couple overcame cultural differences and prejudices during their life together as expats . Also , the book offers a more general account of bridging cultures, one that shows quite a complex view on the issue. Not to mention a comprehensive insight on Europe’s WWII.
However the end of book, the random thoughts and the rant on Shanti’s last years of life, is the weakest point , it does not seem to belong to the narrative and while it might present inherent value to the writer it does not do so for the reader.

Simona Cratel: “Strainii”

Simona’s “Foreigners” are East Europeans (Romanians) living in Germany. The book is a bitter account of the cultural differences between what we tend to view here as an unitary group: the Europeans.
The book’s start is a little slow, but the narrative picks up wonderfully in the second part. The pressure on Victor's family to prove its 'value' to the natives of adoptive country: Germans as well as to the Romanians left back home makes their issues gain gigantic proportions ( one child is a genius, the other is disabled, the wife has an affair with an younger man, the husband loses his job) and their attempt to mimic normality desperate.
Unfortunately the book is only available in Romanian. (1)

Jhumpa Lahiri – The Interpreter of Maladies

This is the best Pulitzer prise I read read recently. Sensitive, smart, wonderful narrative…There is not much I can say here that had not been said by professional reviewers but : Read it!
Amazingly, I could identify with Mrs. Sen : my complaints about lunch meats and hers about fish, my inability to drive …

(1) Note: The author said :
"Strainii" (Die Ausländer) it's already translated in German, and we're now looking for a interested publisher, and the translation in English it's almost ready.
Now for the Romanian readers the book can be downloaded from LiterNet .
And if anyone knows a German publisher...

3 comments:

gingatao said...

It's a fascinating thing, immigrant stories, restablishing a sense of place and transcending culture to find common humanity. The last one sounds cool, I'll have to look out for it.

simona said...

"Strainii" (Die Ausländer)it's already translated in german, and we're now looking for a interested publisher, and the translation in english it's almost ready.

Annamari said...

I think all three are worth to be read.
Seth makes an interesting point on our view of the world and the geography lessons in elementary school.

But if you get a hold of the last one, let me know what you thought of...