Susan Stewart is a stalwart of the StokeyLitFest organising team and has picked a cracking selection of fiction and non-fiction to warm up Christmas and the New Year.
Inside the Centre: The Life of J Robert Oppenheimer By Ray Monk
Vintage Books, £12.99
The hardback edition was in my stocking last Christmas. A fascinating, superb biography of a physicist who learned Sanskrit to be better able to understand the Bhagavad Gita, was named the ‘father of the atom bomb’, whose colleagues sometimes thought him ‘an over-educated cultural show-off’ and a man whose carreer was ended by the House Un-American Activities Committee. There’s enough physics to satisfy us geeks and a tragic story of a man from a successful immigrant family striving to fit in, of betrayal and of differing interpretations of patriotism.
Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction, by Kent Haruf
Picador, £8.99, £8.99, £7.99
One of the lovely Lit Fest volunteers introduced me to the world of Kent Haruf earlier this year. These three linked novels are set in the fictional small town of Holt, Colorado which sounds frankly like the kind of place many Londoners have escaped from. Haruf’s descriptions of ordinary people going about their lives and trying to do the best they can in the face of whatever happens are true and real and sometimes heartbreaking.
A Taste of Venice: At Table with Brunetti. Donna Leon and Roberta Pianaro.
Those who like me are fans of Leon’s Venice-set crime novels know that Commisario Brunetti draws strength from his home life, and in particular the amazing food cooked by his lecturer wife (I’ve never understood where she finds the time). Yes this book re- cycles stuff from the books, but it’s worth it to get the apple cake recipe.
Follow Susan on Twitter @kelvinbridgesue
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