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Cover Image of In America : A Novel by Susan Sontag published by Picador
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Cover Image of Empire Falls by Richard Russo published by Vintage Books
 
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January Shaping Up To Be A Good Year For Books

abstract:Freshly back from the holidays I am delighted to see the publishers' offerings this January 2011. The interesting thing is prices for various print and digital versions of books at different outlets. It's mayhem out there! Do you download from iTunes to your iPad, or from Amazon to your Kindle, or from either to your Kindle App on your iPhone, what is KoBo all about? [This topic begs an upcoming feature... ] From Random House Canada I'm keen on the affordable $22 (softcover and eBook version) of Tom Rachman's Giller Prize nominated fiction title, The Imperfectionists: A Novel published by Anchor Canada. The Kindle version has been out since April and it's only $5. Reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review by Christopher Buckley who writes, "This first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born [but raised in Vancouver] journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off. I still haven't answered that question, nor do I know how someone so young… could have acquired such a precocious grasp of human foibles. The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching." The publisher continues "Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it - and themselves - afloat."

article:

January 06, 2011
— TRAVEL
If you're looking for a desert adventure, look no further than The Salt Road by Jane Johnson. This is a massive 464 page book published by Doubleday Canada. It's $29 for the softcover version, $14.27 for the Kindle edition. The author writes, "The germ of The Salt Road was born at the same time as that research visit for The Tenth Gift, and felt like a gift in its own right. My husband, Abdellatif (Abdel for short), is a Berber of the Chleuh tribe, but one side of his family were nomadic traders from Mauritania. I knew little about the mysterious veiled traders known as the Tuareg before I met Abdel: but I was fascinated when one day, cleaning the old house where his elderly mother still lives, Abdel brought me what looked like a big stone. “What do you think it is?” he asked me (in French, our lingua franca).

It looked like a chunk of rock crystal, and I said so.

He laughed. “It is salt, from the Taodenni salt mine in the deep Sahara,” he told me. “My grandfather traded in salt.”

And then he told me about the salt roads – the trade routes followed for centuries by the Tuareg traders across the desert to reach the market towns of Morocco, and thence the Mediterranean coast. Caravans of camels plied these routes bringing salt, slaves, gold and silver, animal skins, amber and ostrich feathers. It was a dangerous business: as well as the desert’s own well-documented perils – sandstorms, shifting topography, lack of water, murderous heat – there were also bandits and foreign soldiers to contend with.

The Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa, pre-dating the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Islamic invasion of the 8th century; those Berbers who fled the invaders and headed out into the deserts became known as the Tuareg, a perjorative term applied to them by the Arabs, meaning ‘the abandoned by God’. The Tuaregs prefer the use of the terms Imazaghan – the Free People; or the Kel Tamacheq – ‘Those who speak Tamacheq’. Legend has it that the first Tuareg communities were founded by a young Berber woman called Tin Hinan who walked 1500 miles from her home town in the Tafilalt in southern Morocco out into the desert to avoid being married against her will to the son of the local Roman governor, and there founded a settlement outside what is now Abalessa in the south of Algeria. Her gravesite (dating from the 4th century) was excavated in the 1930s. In the grave there was found a wooden bed, a tall female skeleton decorated with massive bracelets of gold and antimony and a splendid necklace. Among objects beside her was a bowl filled with coins bearing the effigy of the Emperor Constantine.—Random House

BIOGRAPHY
Most Canadians grew up reading Mordicai Richler so it's not surprising that his biography written by Charles Foran Mordecai: The Life & Times continues strong on the bestseller lists at #3. A whopping 800 pages published by Knopf Canada. "The definitive, detailed, intimate portrait of Mordecai Richler, the lion of Canadian literature, and the turbulent, changing times that nurtured him. It is also an extraordinary love story that lasted half a century."

Random House's listing says, "Mordecai Richler won multiple Governor General's Literary Awards, the Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, among others, as well as many awards for his children's books. He also wrote Oscar-nominated screenplays. His influence was larger than life in Canada and abroad. In Mordecai, award-winning novelist and journalist Charlie Foran brings to the page the richness of Mordecai's life as young bohemian, irreverent writer, passionate and controversial Canadian, loyal friend and deeply romantic lover. He explores Mordecai's distraught childhood, and gives us the "portrait of a marriage" — the lifelong love affair with Florence, with Mordecai as beloved father of five. The portrait is alive and intimate — warts and all."

 

 

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