What do you do when you're craving a good book but don't know which one to pick up? You turn to Fatima Bhutto's recently shared book recommendations of course. The writer shared five books that "really stood out" for her in 2021 and we've dug out the synopsis of each to help you select your next read.
Daughter of the late politician Murtaza Bhutto, Fatima is the author of the non-fiction book New Kings of the World: Dispatches from Bollywood, Dizi, and K-Pop, fiction novel The Runaways and memoir Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter's Memoir.
The writer recently took to Instagram Stories to dish out names of the five books she loved reading this year. "To be perfectly honest, I didn't find 2021 a great reading year but these are the books I read that stood out to me," she wrote.
Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu
"This poetic, genre-bending work — blending memoir with cultural history — from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma," according to Goodreads.
The author, Nadia Owusu, grew up all over the world and uses her own experiences to tell this coming-of-age story that explores timely and universal themes of identity.
Apeirogon by Colum McCan
"Colum McCann's most ambitious work to date, Apeirogon — named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides — is a tour de force concerning friendship, love, loss, and belonging," according to Goodreads.
The story revolves around a Palestinian man and an Israeli man, Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan, who "inhabit a world of conflict that colours every aspect of their daily lives". Their lives shift forever when their daughters become victims of violence. "Abir is killed by a rubber bullet and 13-year-old Smadar becomes the victim of suicide bombers. When Bassam and Rami learn of each other's stories, they recognise the loss that connects them and they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace."
The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie
"When her elderly mother is hospitalised after an accident, Vicki is summoned to her parents' isolated and run-down ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to care for her father. She has been estranged from her parents for many years (the reasons for which become quickly clear) and is horrified by what she discovers on her arrival," shares Goodreads.
The story is a black-humoured family drama, recounting the mother's mental illness, the scarring impact her illness has on Vicki's father, and how the "ensuing power play" between the mother and father "takes a dramatic turn and leaves Vicki stuck in the middle of a bizarre and ludicrously strange family dilemma". The book promises as to "leave you on the edge of your seat" as you read on.
Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson
"Set in Barcelona in the years leading up to the financial crash of 2008, these poignant interlinked stories follow ordinary people whose lives will be changed forever," according to Goodreads. "The book is made up of three interconnected stories that are bound by time and place, and by the way characters weave in and out of them."
Barcelona Dreaming explores "addiction, celebrity, racism, immigration, pornography, and self-delusion". It has the "feeling of a modern fable, underpinned by a longing for the inaccessible and a nostalgia for what is about to be lost".
The Night in Gethsemane: On Solitude and Betrayal by Massimo Recalcati
According to Goodreads, The Night in Gethsemane is a "revelatory, moving, and inspiring meditation" by one of Italy’s most important thinkers, Massimo Recalcati. The book touches upon "suffering, doubt, betrayal, and the potential for renewal that dwells in our most painful moments".
Looks like our reading list is sorted for the time being. Which books were your personal favourites in 2021?