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November 2021: Currently Reading

By - 30 November 2021 - 15:37pm

Find out what the team have been reading this month!

In our latest instalment of ‘Currently Reading’, the team will share what they have been reading during November. Our Autumn Edition took place earlier this month, and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing from a varied range of authors. Have you read any of the books by our Autumn Edition authors?

Sian, Festival Director: Mr Wilder and Me by Jonathan Coe

This interested me, both because of the author and subject. Jonathan Coe has had a long fascination with film director, Billy Wilder and his films, including the classics Some Like It Hot and Sunset Boulevard. I had enjoyed Coe’s Middle England and I like his dry, amusing style. In this book, he looks at the film industry portraying Wilder in his later, relatively unsuccessful career. Told from a young girl’s perspective, it features a brief moment in her life when she worked with him and his long-term collaborator, Iz Diamond. It is an affectionate portrayal of Wilder and Diamond at a time when the film industry was changing with the arrival of the ‘kids with beards’, including Spielberg and Scorsese producing a different kind of film.

Gini, Festival Manager: The Holiday by T M Logan

Having really enjoyed meeting T M Logan and watching his 'Living the Dream' event at the Autumn Edition, I was intrigued to discover why his books have sold over 1 million copies in such a short space of time. Not usually my thing, I chose to start with The Holiday... and I was not disappointed!

The story is set in a villa in the South of France where four best friends and their families spend a week together to celebrate a milestone birthday. A group of friends with a shared history, shared memories, who know everything about each other... or do they? An uneasy, unsettling atmosphere is established from the start and, as the drama unfolds, we find out that all of them have something to hide. The tension builds from the very first page and does not let up until the end, with unexpected twists and turns along the way and, just when you think you have worked out the answers, another thread is woven into the narrative throwing you off course and the ending is a complete surprise!

A gripping thriller that you just can't put down.

Helen Bauer, Shared Writing Project Manager: The Yield by Tara June Winch

The Yield won the prestigious Miles Franklin Award in 2020 for the best new novel about Australian life. August Gondiwindi returns home to rural New South Wales from Europe after the death of her grandfather. Planning a fleeting visit, she instead finds herself confronting her past ghosts while fighting to protect the family land from big corporate mining interests. The book explores the history and contemporary life of Australia’s Aboriginal people through the Gondiwindi family. August’s story is interspersed with words from the local Aboriginal language written as a dictionary by her grandfather before his death. In his definitions he explains aspects of a heritage and culture now lost. A fascinating and pacy read for anyone interested in Australia and its indigenous culture.

Sue Wall, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer: A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

I stumbled across this book by Etaf Rum in my local library, my attention caught by the title A Woman Is No Man. And I was not disappointed. Etaf Rum is an Arab-American writer, and this is her debut novel, published in 2019 - with all the strengths of a debut work - vivid, raw, at times straight from the heart, emotional, with more than a few twists and turns. Deya, an 18 year-old growing up in Brooklyn has been raised by her immigrant grandparents since her parents' death. Now it is time for her to marry, and she is being presented with various Muslim suitors, and expected to make her choice. She comes over very clearly as someone caught between two cultures, with no obvious role models, and a lot of internal emotional confusion as she tries to make sense of her childhood. Definitely a page-turner, and I felt enlightened and privileged to be presented with such a very human story from a very different culture.

Keith Donald, Derby Book Festival Trustee and Interviewer: The Country of Others by Leila Slimani

I bought this book after having read Ms Slimani’s bestseller, Lullaby. Her latest work is set in France and Morocco. The main character, Mathilde, falls in love with Amine, a Moroccan soldier billeted in Mathilde’s French town. Mathilde marries Amine and follows him to Morocco; she fails to fit into the local culture and struggles against the closed community and the local values. Depressed and oppressed, we are immersed in the multi-layered personal and familial challenges which Mathilde faces. It was a gripping read.

Felicity, Festival Administrator: 29 Seconds by T M Logan

After T. M. Logan took part in the Autumn Edition, I felt compelled to read some of his earlier work. I started in chronological order with Lies, which was gripping from the very first page. After a slow-reading phase, it was refreshing to read a gripping thriller that I couldn’t put down. I’m now reading 29 Seconds and I’m equally impressed. What I love most about Logan’s work is the fact that each book is so different, but each has interesting characters, aspects that keep you guessing, and I like the local elements of the books set in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

29 Seconds centres on Sarah, a woman in her early 30s who is facing challenges in her personal life at home and in her career because of her nightmare boss. Sarah witnesses an unexpected incident, which will ultimately change her life. But will it be for the better? I don’t know yet, but I’m looking forward to finding out. What I love most about this book is it’s the little decisions that Sarah makes that seem innocuous, but drive her story forward, which is much like life.

Do you have any reading recommendations for December? Let us know via our social media channels!

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