Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday, a regular series that has been on hiatus for about six weeks. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers and other bookish bods to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is Armen, an Iranian-Armenian journalist, who lives in London and is a member of Riverside Readers, the book group I attend.
Armen doesn’t have a blog of his own, but he is staggeringly well read, with a special interest in world literature, history, politics and art.
Without further ado, here’s Armen’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
A favourite book: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
“From now on, I’ll describe the cities to you,” the Khan had said, “in your journeys you will see if they exist.”
But the cities visited by Marco Polo were always different from those thought of by the emperor. This is a very unusual book. It is dialogues between Marco Polo and Kublai khan, the great khan of the Mongol Empire. There is no plot, no characters besides these two. It is very difficult to describe the book, but reading it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had with a book. The great khan gets tired of stories sent by his messengers but Marco’s stories keep him interested. Marco tells him stories about cities no one has ever heard, the “invisible cities”.
A book that changed my world: The City and the House by Natalia Ginzburg
This is the first book I read by Natalia Ginzburg, an Italian author whose books are mostly out of print in English. I’ve read most of her works and it’s such a pleasure when I read her. (I often search her name to see if there’s anything new in English, a book maybe? A play, or even an old interview!) I read this book when I was very influenced by anything Italian, cinema, literature, music and even ice creams! This is one of her last books, written in letter form.
Giuseppe, a middle-aged, depressed journalist, leaves Rome after 20 years and moves to the United States to live with his brother, a move he seems to regret. He writes letters to his cousin, ex-lover and a group of friends. These letters are about failed marriages, unhappy love affairs, frustrated family relationships. There is no hero in this book. The characters are very much like people we meet everyday at home or on the street, with usual highs and lows. The people in this book want to belong to somewhere, but are not sure where.
A book that deserves a wider audience: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
This is an eastern black comedy by a Ukrainian author! The main character is Viktor, a writer, but economic hardship in the early years of post-Soviet Union makes him write obituaries for a newspaper. He writes these obituaries in advance, meaning he’s writing them for Mafia, although he doesn’t know this in the beginning. He shares his life with a penguin, called Misha. Misha is an important figure in the book. This penguin brought lots of smile to my face!
Thanks, Armen, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I’ve already got The City and the House in my TBR, after Armen mentioned it at our very first book group back in the summer of 2009. And I’ve promptly added Death and the Penguin to my wishlist as it sounds sort of surreal — and very funny.
What do you think of Armen’s choices? Have you read any of these books?
4 thoughts on “Triple Choice Tuesday: Armen”
I LOVE Death and the Penguin! Very surreal and very funny, indeed.
I’m not exactly rushing to read any more Italo Calvino in the near-future but I would be interested in reading more of his work (and revisiting If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller) later down the road.
I read a Natalia Ginzburg short story, “He and I”, which I thought was exceptionally good and, through that and Armen’s suggestion at the first book group meeting, on the look-out for more of her work.
Several people have recommended Kurkov to me. I do have this one in the TBR pile and it sounds brilliant.
A wonderful selection ,I lived invisible cites when I read it all the best stu
Oh yay, TTT is back!!!
I read Invisible Cities about 8 years ago and I must admit that I didn’t like it as I just didn’t get it. I wonder if I would feel differently now?
I have seen Death and the Penguin recently (I forget where) and I was tempted to pick it up. If I see it again I think I will now.