What are you currently reading? (part 2)

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-04-23, 8:10

Just finished reading Verukal. It's only 132 pages long (or perhaps technically less), and I read it every day, yet it took me over a month to finish reading it. Hmm.

I've read the first three chapters of 《赵氏孤儿》, adapted by Wang Jianping (王建平) and Ren Yutang (任玉堂) with a side-by-side translation into English by Paul White (保尔•怀特 :P). I also finally read Lu Xun's famous short story "狂人日记" on zhongwen.com in tandem with a translation into English from the Selected Works of Lu Xun by Yang Xianyi and his British but Beijing-born wife, Gladys. Apparently, the title of that story is usually translated as "A Madman's Diary" to avoid confusion with "Diary of a Madman" (which inspired it), but on zhongwen.com, it's called "Diary of a Madman" in English anyway. :P

Another book I've started reading is all in Chinese, but it's a bunch of simple cartoons from Singapore (the simplest cartoons I've ever seen in Chinese so far, in fact) retelling Buddhist stories that an Indian monk named Sanghasena introduced to China during the Southern Qi dynasty between 479 and 492 CE. It's called 百喻经的智慧: 佛教寓言故事.

EDIT: Verukal was a nice read, though I'm not quite sure what to make of the ending, and honestly, 《赵氏孤儿》 is far more exciting. I mean, some guy visiting his family home vs. sex! Violence! Political intrigue! :P "狂人日记" was, surprisingly, not that hard to read; I read it within a few days...interesting story. 百喻经 is fun and pretty lighthearted; basically, every story starts with "once upon a time, there was an idiot who..." (and then they tell you what dumb-ass thing the idiot did so you'll learn not to do such things). Unfortunately, I've read very little of it so far.

I'm thinking of reading another novel in Malayalam called അനുഭവങ്ങൾ [əˈnubʱəʋəŋəɭ] 'Experiences', Nandanar's autobiography and the last novel he wrote before committing suicide. The title of the novel reminds everyone in my family of this song, which is perhaps appropriate given its strident notes and the general despair expressed in the lyrics. EDIT2: In a way, this would be coming full circle for me because Nandanar also wrote the first novel I ever read in Malayalam. It was a much more lighthearted novel about an ordinary (though fictional) Malayalee kid's life.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Yasna » 2021-04-26, 23:11

linguoboy wrote:I was making good progress on a volume of Bolaño's collected stories until I hit one with a heterosexual love triangle. If I never again read another work of fiction with that setup it'll be too soon.

Do you find them inherently less interesting than homosexual love triangles, or have you just read too many of them?

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2021-04-27, 15:27

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I was making good progress on a volume of Bolaño's collected stories until I hit one with a heterosexual love triangle. If I never again read another work of fiction with that setup it'll be too soon.

Do you find them inherently less interesting than homosexual love triangles, or have you just read too many of them?

1. These aren't the only two options, you know.
2. If I ever read a work of fiction with a homosexual love triangle, I'll tell you.

But yeah, it's right up there with middle-aged adultery in terms of overuse.
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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby Osias » 2021-05-02, 1:36

Me Before You. It sucks. I'm trying to finish it to figure out why Claudia liked it so much.
2017 est l'année du (fr) et de l'(de) pour moi. Parle avec moi en eux, s'il te plait.

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-05-08, 20:04

I finished both Anubhavangal and 《赵氏孤儿》! The Chinese novel ended more or less as I expected. It's supposed to be a tragedy, it seems, but it isn't really. It just involves lots of murder and suicide, but the hero slays the villain and continues the family line in the end. I'd say that's a pretty normal ending for an old story.

The ending of the Malayalam autobiography is not surprising, either, but I'm once again unsure of how to feel about it. The author seems happy and perhaps even optimistic by the end, and he does end up surviving, but he could have died as a result of the decision he made at that point in his life and eventually committed suicide. I was relieved as I read this book because he didn't make his life sound nearly as bad as I was afraid he would, but in a way, isn't that an even greater tragedy? He suffered so much he basically claims to have been suicidal from birth and he occasionally says he hasn't even seen the water for boiling rice in days on end, yet he complains remarkably little about it.

I guess I'll keep reading 百喻经 and also start ഖസാക്കിന്റെ ഇതിഹാസം [kʰəˈsaːkinde jid̪iˈhaːsəm] (Legends of Khasak) by O. V. Vijayan (yes, Vijayan :P).

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Re: What are you currently reading? (part 2)

Postby linguoboy » 2021-05-08, 23:12

Finished the Adiga. At points, it had the uncomfortable feel of misery tourism for white Westerners. But maybe that was the reaction he was going for?

I ended up talking about the book with my Malayali neighbour from across the street and that encouraged me to continue with both Madhavan Kutty's The village before time (a translation from the Malayalam) and Shyam Selvadurai's Funny boy. The latter isn't what I expected, which was essentially a Sri Lankan coming out story. Instead it's a more general coming of age story about being an adolescent in Colombo in the early 80s. The narrator is well-off, urbanised, and English-speaking, so it contrasts starkly with Madhavan Kutty's fictionalised biography about growing up in a small remote town without electricity or paved roads around the time of Indian Independence.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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