Socialist Worker

Some great books to read this summer

Summer is upon us, even if it may not feel like it as the rain comes pouring down. Socialist Worker has put together some suggestions for your summer reading list – enjoy.

Issue No. 2062

Half Of A Yellow Sun cover

Half Of A Yellow Sun cover

Half Of A Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie rightly won the Orange prize for fiction for this novel set during the Nigeria-Biafran war in the 1960s.

The book weaves together the lives of three characters caught up in the events of the war.

The author told Socialist Review in an interview last year that “if there is such a thing as an anti-war book this is it”, (see »Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie interview).

Half of a Yellow Sun is not just about war. It is also about class, politics and love.

As Adichie said, “My book is not just about people thrown into a war where we watch them die. It is about people who have full lives and how war changes them.”

Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell

This acclaimed and wonderful novel is made up of six interlocking stories that take place over the centuries, starting in the past and going into the future.

It begins with the Pacific Journals of Adam Ewing, a 19th century American notary on a ship in Australasia, and goes through to the story of Zachary, who lives in a dystopian world destroyed by climate change or another apocalypse.

The novel is structured into separate stories, connected by the reappearance of the previous tale in each new story.

The voices of the different narrators are entirely different and convincing.

The novel tackles issues such as freedom, betrayal, extinction, power and family.

It is a brilliant achievement and comes highly recommended.

Wizard Of The Crow
by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

A masterpiece from Kenya’s leading author, Wizard of the Crow satirises neo-colonialism and the attitudes of the black ruling class.

Aburiria – a surrealistically exaggerated Kenya – is governed by a dictator known only as the Ruler.

His fawning ministers celebrate his birthday by announcing that they are going to build a tower to heaven, so that he can pop in on god.

Meanwhile, in the country’s impoverished capital, Kamiti accidentally gains a reputation as a powerful sorcerer.

With the radical Nyawira he uses his notoriety and his “magic mirror” to help the poor and cure the rich of the various sicknesses their greed has induced.

This comic, gross, fantastic novel explores capitalist rule in the Global South.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas
by John Boyne

A young boy’s world is upended when his family are forced to move because of his father’s new job as commandant at Auschwitz. The boy is thrust into a new world he cannot begin to understand.

There is a huge gulf between the boy’s innocence as he begins to explore his new surroundings and what we as readers already know – and this creates a real tension. It’s a simply written book on a familiar topic but once you start reading it you can’t stop.

His Dark Materials trilogy
by Philip Pullman

This is an epic fantasy following the adventures of two children, Lyra and Will, caught up in a war raging across several worlds. His Dark Materials is a trilogy of novels: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Author Philip Pullman has long argued that books primarily aimed at children should raise serious issues – here the nature of good and evil, the foundations of religion and the basis of morality.

They are also a rip roaring adventure featuring intelligent armoured polar bears, wheeled aliens and daemons (not demons!) in a war loosely based on Satan’s revolt in the poet Milton’s Paradise Lost.

The Man in the High Castle
by Philip K Dick

Philip K Dick is perhaps most famous for writing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which the film Blade Runner was based on. But one of his other gems was this science fiction/alternate reality novel.

A fusion of a “what if?” story of the world partitioned under Nazi and Japanese imperialism along with science fiction ideas of alternate realities, allowing Dick to take on not just the horrors of Nazism, but also of inter-imperialist rivalry.

All these books and more are available at Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop. Go to »

Cloud Atlas cover

Cloud Atlas cover

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas cover

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas cover

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Tue 31 Jul 2007, 18:49 BST
Issue No. 2062
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