by Muna Agwa
- 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Reading this novel was a year-long project and truly a labor of love. Murakami is a powerhouse storyteller and this novel was filled to the brim with overlapping plot-lines and mysterious endings. Like many 1000-page books, it was full of peaks and valleys, droughts and tsunamis, and tons of messy magical mayhem.
I loved getting to know the main characters Aomame and Tengo so intimately over the course of this long novel, and I cherished every moment of their enigmatic love story. Although things tied up pretty quickly in the end, it was comforting to see their worlds finally collide.
The multiple, overlapping plot-lines and theories were deeply enthralling and captivating. If you need closure with sudden plot developments though- you will not enjoy this novel. All in all, this novel tested my imagination and helped me overcome my fear of huge books. While it was challenging to get through its sheer breadth, I truly enjoyed getting to immerse myself in the world of 1Q84 and journey of its characters.
- Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellor’s
This novel boasts a spasmodic timeline and confessional tone, which flourishes through a hyper-realistic writing style. While reading this, it felt like staring at a drawing and being unsure if it was real or not at first glance. Mellors does an impeccable job of painting sobering portraits of main characters Cleo and Frank. She knows how to illuminate all her characters on the page, holding them like a prism against a light source to break up their true colors. This novel could make for an excellent on-screen adaptation as I was hopelessly captivated and confronted by the uncomfortable truths that underlie this failed love story. In short, this was an excellent debut and I can’t wait to see what Coco Mellors has next in her vault.
- Fault Lines by Emily Itami
Itami brings a gorgeous ferocity to her writing; it’s hard to believe this is just a debut. This story centers on the internal crisis of a lonely housewife in Japan, Mizuki, and the descriptions of domestic life bring the narrative to life in a way I’ve never seen before. This novel also comments on the intense work culture in Japan that splinters close relationships. Itami’s crisp and elegant writing style effectively portrayed the novel’s flawed characters. I was left asking larger questions about the complexities of motherhood, family, and the sacrifices made to maintain certain facades.
- Dream Work by Mary Oliver
This was yet another satiating poetry collection from Mary Oliver. Her simple yet deeply imaginative verse conjures up the natural world in such a pure and unique way that’s specific to her. In many poems, she takes on different voices or odd perspectives which helped me see old ideas in new ways. This collection was truly a treasure; some of my favorites included “Wild Geese” and “Dreams”.
- Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
This novel truly surprised me; I picked it up on a whim and was immediately absorbed. The mesmerizing fiction elements brought the story to new heights. There were hints of time travel, overlapping time periods, and mysterious and circular references. The plot was a fun puzzle to decipher between chapters. I was additionally fascinated by the utopian and complex society that Mandel conveys through technology and pandemics throughout different eras.