Social Justice Challenge, Month 1: Religious Freedom Book Choices

Looking at the list of resources, I’ve chosen Anil’s Ghost by Michael Odaantje and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak as my books for January.

A bit about the novels:

  • Anil’s Ghost

    In his Booker Prize-winning third novel, The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje explored the nature of love and betrayal in wartime. His fourth, Anil’s Ghost, is also set during a war, but unlike in World War II, the enemy is difficult to identify in the bloody sectarian upheaval that ripped Sri Lanka apart in the 1980s and ’90s. The protagonist, Anil Tissera, a native Sri Lankan, left her homeland at 18 and returns to it 15 years later only as part of an international human rights fact-finding mission. In the intervening years she has become a forensic anthropologist–a career that has landed her in the killing fields of Central America, digging up the victims of Guatemala’s dirty war. Now she’s come to Sri Lanka on a similar quest. But as she soon learns, there are fundamental differences between her previous assignment and this one…

    In
    Anil’s Ghost Michael Ondaatje has crafted both a brutal examination of internecine warfare and an enduring meditation on identity, loyalty, and the unbreakable hold the past exerts over the present.” (from Alix Wilber on Amazon.com)

  • The Book Thief

    Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it,
    The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents…

    Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.” (from Francisca Goldsmith on Amazon.com)

I chose the first because I loved The English Patient and have been wanting to read some more of his novels. I’ve also heard that The Book Thief is really good, so when I saw that on the list, I thought I’d give it a try as well. Unfortunately it has a rather long waiting list at the local library, so I might not get a chance to get to it before the end of the month. We’ll see.

~black sheep

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