Sunday, January 16, 2011

General Fiction – Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Molly Keene, William Kennedy, Allen Kurzweil, Lautreamont, Stanislav Lem & Jonathan Letham

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is a well known novelist and screenwriter. She won several Academy Awards for her screenplays – Room With A View & Howard’s End – and also was awarded the Booker Prize for her novel Heat & Dust.

I must admit I have read hardly any of her books and have only one on my bookshelves, A New Dominion published in 1972.


I don’t know much about Molly Keene, but the Independent article (name link) on her describes her “as one of the great chroniclers of Anglo-Irish life”. Her Good Behaviour, published in 1981 was nominated for the Booker.


When I first stumbled across William Kennedy’s wonderful novel Quinn’s Book, I fell in love with it, though for some reason or other never felt tempted to read any of his other books. Anyway, here’s Quinn’s Book in a 1989 US Penguin edition.


Allen Kurzweil’s A Case of Curiosities is an unusual fantastical tale set during the French Revolution. It’s got a great cover.


Quite famous I suppose, is Lautreamont’s surreal prose poem Maldoror, though I am not sure whether I’ve ever read it.


You hardly ever hear anything about Polish Science Fiction author Stanislav Lem these days, but he was a superb writer of speculative fiction. The King Penguin edition has three of his most famous novels – Solaris, Chain of Chance and A Perfect Vacuum. Solaris of course was made into a superb film by Andrei Tarkovsky. It is one of my all time favourite films which I could watch over and over again.


Finally for this post, my collection of Jonathan Lethem novels. He is one of the best and most interesting young writers around today. He has written books in several genres, science fiction, crime etc., but his take on those genres is startling and original. Motherless Brooklyn, for example, is a mystery novel, narrated by one Lionel Essrog who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome. It’s a tour de force! His last three novels have tended to be about popular culture and are considerably more mainstream than his earlier work, though do contain fantastical elements.

letham_girlinlandscape lethem_asshe climbed
letham_motherless letham_dontloveme
letham_fortess lethem_chronic

Coming up - “M” authors including David Mitchell


iansales said...

I love Tarkovsky's film of Solaris, but I wasn't so impressed with the book.

Anne S said...

It's some time since I read the book, so I can't remember whether it was superior to the film or not. My memories of the story all relate to the film.