Just back from my second home, the local library. Of course they never have the books that I want to read but I order them online and they arrive pretty quickly. Today I have left with four books; The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers, The Collaborator by Mirza Waheed, What We Talk About When we Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander and Dead Men Risen by Toby Harnden.
The first one The Testament of Jessie Lamb the back cover blurb runs (and how else are we supposed to judge it-my daughter swears by opening a random page and if she wants to read on she'll buy it), "Women are dying in their millions. Some blame scientists, some see the hand of God, some see human arrogance reaping the punishment it deserves. Jessie Lamb is an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times: as her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her towars the ultimate act of heroism. If the human race is to survive it's up to her". Sound interesting huh?
The Collaborator is set in early 1990s Kashmir where "...war has finally reached the isolated village of Nowgam, close to the Pakistan border. Indian soldiers appear as if from nowhere to hunt for militants on the run.Four teenage boys, who used to spend their afternoons playing cricket or singing Bollywood ballads down by the river, have disappeared, one by one, to cross into Pakistan and join the movement aginst the Indian army. Only one...is left". It's a first novel for Waheed and sounds like a good story.
The short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank has a really funky front cover ("never judge a book by its cover" you say). With obvious homage to Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Nathan Englander is highly acclaimed as a writer in America. The stories here are where "deep tragedy will rub shoulders with dark comedy. relationships will be brought to the brink, and choices made that change fates and lives for ever. There will be vengeance and violence, coming of age and coming to terms". Although not a great fan of short story collections, perversly, I am a great fan of the late great Raymond Carver so Englander has a lot to come up to to meet his standard. We'll see!
The final book Dead Men Risen by Toby Harnden is a bit of a risk for me. It sounded so interesting but is a monster of a book. It won the Orwell Prize and the author is a foreign correspondent, and I thought I'd give it a go. It is the story of the Welsh Guards in Afghanistan in 2009. "Underequipped and overstretched, guardsmen...found themselves in some of the most intense fighting by British troops for more than a generation. They were confronted by a Taliban enemy they seldom saw, facing the constant threat of Improvised Explosive Devices and ambush. Leading them into battle was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe...(he) was dismayed dismayed by how it was being conducted".
Harnden conducted over 300 interviews to research this book and it sounds fascinating. I wouldn't usually be overly interested about reading non-fiction on war but willgive this a good go.