Intriguing read on a journalist: Part I

2013-12-11 00:00

FLIGHT Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver. I relished The Poisonwood Bible by this author and so read Flight Behaviour. It is an exquisitely written novel about the methodical, monetary and emotional particulars of climate change.

The protagonist, Dellarobia Turnbow, who married young due to an accidental pregnancy, is dismal and finding it very challenging to endure her meagre existence.

She wants to escape her life and husband, and decides to have an affair, but on her way to meet the man she discovers a forest inhabited by a multitude of dazzling orange butterflies.

This results in an influx of tourists, scientists and the media who come to investigate the phenomenon. What some see as a wonder of nature is actually a warning as these butterflies have landed in Tennessee because climate change has altered their usual habitat in Mexico.

Kingsolver uses her scientific educational background and knowledge of the natural world to explain migration patterns of monarch butterflies.

What I enjoyed is that the novel made me acknowledge that climate change affects every one of us, whether we are from the city or country, rich or poor, happy or sad. It is up to the scientific world to acknowledge it, but until that happens, we have a writer like Kingsolver advocating through her writing.

Christopher Merrett

MY most intriguing read of the year was Artur DomosÅ‚awski’s Ryszard KapuÅ›ciÅ„ski, a biography of the renowned Polish journalist.

Much of his reportage was fictionalised, just as he invented aspects of his own life. And yet his writing remains a valuable commentary on decolonisation, power and revolution; and his interpretation of globalisation as a new form of feudalism is particularly relevant.

Richard Calland’s The Zuma Years is an outstanding analysis of the growth of right-wing and populist politics in South Africa, and the waning influence of progressive thought.

Changes within the judiciary he uses as a litmus test for the future. Identifying many admirable individuals in positions of influence, he also sounds a major warning about middle-class assumptions in relation to our “precarious society”.

On the lighter side, John le Carré was back with a vengeance with A Delicate Truth, in which he transferred his Cold War spy-novel skills to the contemporary world of outsourced security and political corruption. His ability to command atmosphere and pose moral questions through his characters remains undiminished. But the edge of his early novels is missing, perhaps because media coverage of modern times leaves less to the imagination.

Stephanie Saville

ALL my best reads were British this year, and got me through many insomniac hours.

Light Shining in the Forest by Paul Torday was a brilliant read. It was absolutely gripping and I read most of it one day after being dragged to some motorbiking event by my partner. Good move taking the book, as to me a bike is a bike is a bike.

The book plots the unspeakable crime of child abduction and the uncovering of the culprit by a journalist and a previously useless public official. A brilliant read.

Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach was wonderfully charming light relief. A Welsh village, a couple of quirky characters and some bizarre twists made for a read I savoured and eagerly anticipated every time I closed the pages to get back to reality. Wonderful escapism.

For its absolute fun factor Bridget Jones — Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding was one of my best. Despite the trashing the book got from other reviewers, I loved it. It was irreverent, hilarious and I am just so fond of the ditzy gal.

Dare I admit this, but in some cases, the insomnia was probably just a good excuse to read.

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