How much does pain determine who we are? How much can be forgiven? To what extent can we heal? Is love a possible thing, findable? Yanahigara brings to bear the story of four friends whose lives center around Jude St. Francis--intellectually gifted, and, maybe, broken by his childhood. Not for the faint of heart, you will not be able to put this 800-page nominee for the Man Booker and National Book Award. Not even when you want to.
You will need (and want) to read this one aloud. At least at the beginning. It's written in a "shadow-tongue" of Old English. Kingsnorth's novel follows the life of an Englishmen and his cohort as they journey through their country blackened and burned by the Normans in 1066. Kingsnorth paints a haunting picture of being conquered whilst living in twilight of one's indigenous culture. Not swayed? Here's a video of Tony Award winner Mark Rylance reading from the first page.
Ferrante's four part cycel begins here. As it traces the friendship of two working class girls from Naples, it pulls with it the whole of Italian political history from the 1950s to the early aughts. Never have I read such a study of friendship, of life's unforeseen tragedies and the small glories that endure despite. I devoured these. You will too. Forgive their ugly covers.
I confess my bias: Mark Wunderlich presided over my poetry thesis in college. But this series of devotionals did receive the Rainer Maria Rilke award, so it's not just me. Wunderlich cobbled together this collection in part from his translations of a book of old German charms recovered from his parents' attic.Contained herein: beautiful pastorals, desperate prayers. What a fragile thing to live on this earth bent to survive us. What a gift to have a book that troubles and consoles us over this.
"You will reply that reality has not the slightest obligation to be interesting. I will reply in turn that reality may get along without that obligation, but hypotheses may not." --from "Death and the Compass"
Playful, mind-bending, and at times sorrowful, Borges's work stands as some of the best literature ever penned by the hand of man. You will be filled with wonder. You will be unsettled in even your deepest convictions. And you will love every moment of it.