What caught my eye and triggered my initial interest in this new novel was the location, Brussels, capital of the EU, that is much in the news. Brussels is a very unique setting. The novel explores the question of how the EU bureaucracy really works. The prologue introduces us to some of the characters who are all startled to see a live pig running around the square in central Brussels. Menasse manages to throw in a murder case that vanishes into thin air- even the digital case files have been mysteriously deleted! He makes the bureaucratic intrigues of the EU exciting: despite political unity, there are flare-ups of nationalism in this fractured conglomerate of countries. Best of all, the author delivers with irony and humor.
Vuong examines Vietnamese-American identity and family dynamics while the main character comes to terms with and explores his sexuality. Written in letters from a son to his mother who cannot read English, this novel is intimate and heartbreaking. The author's background in poetry is evident here; the way that the speaker describes the world around him is lyrical and poetic. The metaphors and flowery language are offset by the gritty content— how the characters navigate a society that is often racist, classist, and homophobic. This is an excellent read whether you can relate to the characters or they can provide a glimpse into another identity different from your own.
This inspiring book features Cameron's interviews with 150 inspiring Canadian women. What I enjoyed most about the book was reading about women that I had not yet heard of, their visions for the country, their advice for other women, and how they adjusted to feminism's changes over the last few decades. This would make a great gift to any woman or enlightened man that wants to propel themselves to be the best that they can be.