The Capital: A Novel, Robert Menasse

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.

 

Tessa recommends:
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong

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.

 

David recommends:
Canada 150 Women: Conversations with Leaders, Champions, and Luminaries, Paulina Cameron

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.

Sandra Selects


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