martes, 10 de septiembre de 2013

The Good Earth Trilogy by Pearl S. BuckThe Good Earth Trilogy by Pearl S. Buck

The Good Earth Trilogy by Pearl S. Buck

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari

I read The Good Earth during my early college days, and I was captivated by the prose, which was full of words not common among my peers. Nevertheless, nowadays -- fifty years later -- I could not recall any specifics, which drove me to read the trilogy recently. And I discovered that I was attracted to the literary poetry found in The Good Earth. The Sons and A House Divided were less poetic, but the descriptions, especially of the main characters' feelings was heartening. It was also interesting to compare terms used in the first part of last century which might raise brows today. For example, describing a man as beautiful...

BTW, Ms Buck hooked me on an interest about China, and I have been there several times, always recalling the love for this country instilled by this author. 

Tveye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem

Tveye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari

Sholem Aleichem and his story Tevye the Dairyman are related to the popular Broadway musical and movie Fiddler on the Roof. The translation from Yiddish is good, though many words in such language that remain in the English text may deter the reading flow for those who are not familiar with them. There is a glossary at the end.

The stories give us some light into the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the XIX and early XX centuries. I enjoyed learning some historical facts such as Ellis Island being known as Castle Garden, which quite reminded me of going through US airport customs after 9/11 with its interrogation rooms. Things seem to have come full circle in a bit over a century. “We’re locked up. We can only through the bars. We’re like convicts or beats…”

The characters in both stories will become dear to your heart, hopefully.

The Brothers Ashkenazi by I J Singer

The Brothers Ashkenazi by IJ Singer

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari

The author is the oldest brother of Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. This work was originally written in Yiddish, but the English translation seems to reflect the original spirit.

This novel is a remarkable socio-political treatise of the city of Lodz – Poland – around the beginning of last century and its Jewish inhabitants. IJ Singer seems to blame his fellow Jewish community members for their eventual downfall through the perils of World War II.

It must be mentioned that IJ Singer broke from the orthodox Hasidic Jewish creed and became a strong member of the more liberal Jewish Enlightenment movement.

This book must be read with a historical open mind.

Death at Intervals by Jose Saramago

Death At Intervals by Jose Saramago

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari

Saramago has always been considered a literary iconoclast. In this book he confronts all his contendors. Though, he not always provides a clear alternative.

Throughout this reading Saramago turns death -- fierce, implacabled and eternal -- to surrender to a human being. Is that why she calls herself death and not Death?

El Señor Presidente de Miguel Angel AsturiasEl Señor Presidente by Miguel Angel Asturias

El Señor Presidente by Miguel Angel Asturias

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari

I must state that I recently read the Kindle Edition of the book... Asturias develops a superb plot aimed at scrutinizing the politics of many of the Latin American dictatorships that were rampant in the Twentieth Century. It is interesting that, as was common among these daring authors, his work was published in Paris and not in Guatemala City -- he probably wouldn't have survived in his home country.

Asturias' use of regionalisms always leads to having to provide a glossary, adding to the learning eaxperience. In addition, I have the impression that he feels free to add a few words of his own creation...

Leyendas de Guatemala -- Miguel Angel Asturias

Leyendas de Guatemala by Miguel Angel Asturias

Reviewed by Alex Canton-Dutari

Miguel Angel Asturias, the Guatemalan Nobel Laureate, always wrote with poetry in his mind -- I believe so. One example is his description of slowness, in one pharagraph: The cart arrives in town turning a while today and another tomorrow.

I must warn that this book is full of regionalisms and, even if there is a glossary in the end, the Kindle version is so ladden with typos that it is difficult to know if a specific word is a creation of the author's mind or the by-product of a mechanical finger glitch.


Me parece que Miguel Angel Asturias, guatemalteco ganador del Premio Nobel de Literatura, siempre escribió con la poesía en su mente. Un ejemplo se encuentra en la frase: La carreta llega al lpueblo rodando un paso hoy y otro mañana. Què manera màs linda de expresar la lentitud del tiempo.

Empero, la edición en la versión Kindle está tan llena de errores tipográficos que es difícil saber si una palabra es producto de la mente del autor o de un desperfecto mecànico digital -- literalmente.

Los regionalismos literarios guatemaltecos son joyas.