♥ Loved: Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
♥ Loved: David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars
X Hated: Chris Cleave, Little Bee
Recommendation: Bees! There are so many books with bees in the title: Rosalind Wiseman’s pop-psychology Mean Girls sourcebook Queen Bees and Wannabees; Myla Goldberg’s Great American Spelling Bee Novel, Bee Season. (Actually, Bee Season is sweet even without having “bee” in the title.)
But you’re tired of bees, you say? Oh, fine; the Grumpy Librarian always provides. The GL doesn’t blame you for your distaste for the political manipulations of Little Bee and suggests you wash away the sour taste with another novel starring a Nigerian immigrant: Teju Cole’s lyrical Open City. Here’s hoping your enjoyment of Guterson implies appreciation of postcolonial poetics. Though Open City is metaphysically dense and almost old-fashioned in form (there are no quotation marks and few breaks in the text), Cole creates a narrator of paradoxical sympathy and alienation. Folks seem to keep calling Open City “Sebaldian,” and while Cole deals with ideas of identity, memory and loss with skill, his novel is less formally mannered than Sebald’s Austerlitz. It is a book to be read slowly, and outdoors.