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
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