Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

cloudCloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell is a postmodernist novel that has been adapted into a film.

Postmodernist themes: different narrators and narrative techniques (journal writing, letters, mystery-novel, and interview; also newspaper clippings), simulacra and simulation, intertextuality (the stories are interconnected and mentioned), allusions (real and imaginary) to other literary works, consumerism (Sonmi narrative) and historicizing the characters.

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Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

51WkgRRm22L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel is a graphic novel memoir of the author, set in rural Pennsylvania. It focuses on Bechdel’s relationship with her father, Bruce, who was killed by a truck on July 2, 1980 when he was crossing the road. There are different versions of this story, an element of alternate endings, a postmodernist feature.  The versions include that Bruce committed suicide by purposely putting himself in front of the truck, and that something startled him and he jumped backwards to be hit; he may have been startled at the sight of a snake, one that she had once seen in the woods when she was a child.

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Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

reservation-blues23

Reservation Blues (1995) by Sherman Alexie is an important novel. The central characters include Victor Joseph, Junior Polatkin, and Thomas Builds-The-Fire (32 years old), who appear in Alexie’s earlier book The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Robert Johnson also appears on the Spokane Reservation (created in 1881) in eastern Washington and gives his guitar to Thomas. Wellpinit is the only town on the reservation. The novel follows the adventures of the trio and their band. The other characters include Big Mama, Chess and Checkers (two sisters) and Father Arnold.

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Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

Love Medicine

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is a novel that narrates the tensions between three generations and two families of NChippewa (aka Ojibwa or Anishinaabe) living on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota. the novel spans over six decades.

Themes: race (Native American vs Whites), family (3 generations), love, abuse (alcohol and drugs), and love (heterosexual, parents and children, and adoptive families), Native American government policy, and loss of cultural identity and spirituality.

Narrative:  third person narrator and first person narrators-  Marie  Lazarre (Kashpaw), Nector Kashpaw, Lulu Nanapush, Lyman Lamartine, Albertine Johnson, and Lipsha Morrissey.

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Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

like water for chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate  (1989) by Laura Esquivel  is another example of magic realism by a female author. It narrates the experiences of Tita, the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, who falls in love with Pedro but marries him after twenty years, after Rosaura, her sister and his legal wife, dies. The book is divided into twelve chapters, each corresponding to a month of the year and a recipe that was cooked during that month.

Themes: magic realism, love, food and cooking, family (including the relationship between Gertrudis and Tita and Elena’s cruelty), history (Mexican Revolution), and the power of traditions.

Women in the family: Mama Elena; her daughters, Gertrudis, Rosaura, and Tita (real name, Josefita); Nacha, the cook; and Chencha, the maid.

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Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho A. Anya

ultimaBless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho A. Anya is an example of a magical realism novel. It can be read as a bildungsroman as it chronicles the growth of Antonio, a young boy whose life takes a turn when a Ultima, a medicine woman, comes to live with his family.

Themes: women, community, the power of dreams, family and ancestors, man vs nature, and religion (organized vs pagan).

Ultima is a curandera, “a woman who knew the herbs and remedies of the ancients, a miracle-worker who could heal the sick” who “could lift the curses laid by brujas” and “exorcise the evil the witches planted in people to make them sick. And because a curandera had this power she was misunderstood and often suspected of practicing witchcraft herself” (4).

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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

NamesakeThe Namesake (2004) by Jhumpa Lahiri is, again, a personal favorite. After reading it again, I relaized that it is an ordinary story of two generations of the Ganguli fmaily but this time, as an immigrant, I could connect more to the situations of Ashima Ganguli.

Themes: identity (Gogol and Gogol), home and the diaspora, immigrant, relationships (Gogol and his partners, Ashima and Ashoke, and the community of immigrants), and food.

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