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Bold women, brave books

Bold women, brave books

STASILAND by Anna Funder

What would you do if you lived in a society where everything were all monitored, recorded and reported to authorities?

Stasiland is a mix of  investigative report and social analysis of the  East German society.  Berlin-based  Australian author Anna Funder  explores the intriguing world of what was then the most hated government institution of the German Democratic Republic: the Stasi.

She interviews people whose lives were destroyed by the Stasi as well as members of the dreaded  secret police.  The book cuts deep in describing the brutal and  inhumane system that tortured its citizens.

Reading one  chapter after the other, I was both livid and  helpless but I couldn´t put  it down.  Some might criticize the  style  as distracting because the author inject her personal story and thoughts in between but it didn’t affect my reading experience. Instead, I consider Stasiland  a captivating book.

Moreover, I like the fact that Stasiland  not only offers  the contrasting voices of the victims and their pursuers, but also examines the psychological game that the East German government played on its people, where  society thrived through fear and mistrust. For those who are interested in Cold War Germany, this is a thought-provoking read.

Rating:   4.2/5 Bookmarks

THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR by Svetlana Alexievich

“Everything we know about war we know with a “man´s voice”.  We are all captives of “men´s” notions and “men´s” sense of war.  “Men´s” words.  Women are silent.”  This is how Svetlana Alexievich opens her Nobel prize winning book.  She  shamelessly and unapologetically  provokes the senses through the courageous and fearless accounts of Soviet women during the second World War. 

Who were the women of WWII? What  role did they play? This unforgettable book is a collection of  heart-wrenching tales of   women who  mended uniforms, fed the hungry,  sheltered the destitute,  attended the sick and battled the enemies with  grit and gut  equal to men.

I prepared myself emotionally before reading the book because as I was aware that most of the stories would be  too gruesome to take. And they were.  But all the stories, raw and sincere,  point out the senselessness and absurdity  of wars.

I appreciate the author´s unselfish  hard work, giving   voices to these  women so they could  share the often untold and overlooked  things that men failed to tell in their versions of the narrative.  By presenting  each story using  these women ´s own words, Svetlana succeeds in making  these words   linger and become  unforgettable images in the my head for a long time. To lovers of history,  this book is a treasure.

Rating: 5/5 Bookmarks

See Also

NO AND ME by Delphine De Vigan

The book´s  title actually was the first thing that caught my attention making me drop the other book I was intending to buy. “No” turns out to be an 18-year old homeless girl and “Me” is  Lou Bertignac, the voice of the story.  Set in Paris,  No and Lou´s paths cross by chance and they  become friends, filling each other´s void.  As their friendship deepens, No comes to live with  Lou. No´s presence means comfort to her. The death of her younger sister has caused her mother to stop caring and live in the quietude of her own world leaving her and her father to man up and keep the family from crumbling down. 

No and Me is both  beautiful and emotional. It is a well-written book with relatable characters to speak of. It avoids  being preachy and melodramatic considering that it deals with someone who aspires  to change the world but can´t. It  simply hints  that  sometimes, not only do we need  to look at the world that we see but  also, we have to see the world that sees us.

This book is for  everybody. Teens can identify with No and Lou. Adults can identify with the sad reality of being alone in a crowded world. As I  turned the last page,  it just dawned on me that I could be “homeless” inside my own home while  another person could find “home”  in his/her homelessness.

Rating:  4/5 Bookmarks

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