Sour Sweet by Timothy Mo
How difficult it is to understand something that’s alien, so different from what you know. It’s the perennial plight of the migrant. Better to find your own? Stick to what’s familiar in an unfamiliar place? Or brave it out and carve your own path, learn the hard lessons that will surely come your way?
But then we all become exiles after a while as the life we grew up with changes inexorably into something made for those now younger. It’s never the embracers who truly flourish, nor the abstainers who cling to tradition with every fibre of their being.
It’s the blenders who inherit; those who see the wisdom of integration; those who find a way to unite old and new.
According To Mark by Penelope Lively
Do we know our own history? How would it differ from our friends’ accounts of us? What would someone we don’t know make of it?
How much can we trust our own opinion? Memory is a strange thing, a recording of sorts, as editable as any physical media – and as vulnerable too. At some stage in the faint trace of our lives our own history gets edited, becomes part of the homogenous capital, and of course most of us at that point get edited out of History entirely. But we were all there. We’re all contemporary with the events our existence. We all make history what it is…up to a point.
An Artist Of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
It’s almost infuriating, this book. It drifts. It rambles. It loses its way. It reminds us how we live, how we interact. It reminds us that we often imagine ourselves more connected, even more influential than we really are. It reminds us that all life, all lives, are floating worlds, and that it’s only when they connect with other worlds that they maintain any relevance.