Saturday, April 4, 2009

Six Degrees of the Library Collection - Dan Brown to Rawi Hage

In the spirit of the theory of six degrees of separation - that any two people in the world can be connected to one another through six relationships - we bring you what will become a semi-regular feature called “Six Degrees of the Library Collection”. You might be surprised how your favourite book can connect you to a wide world of reading.

The book and the film world will soon be abuzz with the release of the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. The first adventure of Da Vinci Code protagonist Robert Langdon, the film version will again star Tom Hanks in the lead role and is scheduled for release on May 15th. On his website, author Dan Brown gives fans a list of his favourite reads. One of the titles that he mentions is Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer, saying of it that “I was amazed how well Archer handled the long time spans without ever losing the narrative pulse”.

Jeffrey Archer is a well known British author and former politician. In 2001 he was sentenced to 4 years in jail for being found guilty of perjury in relation to a libel suit he had launched against a tabloid newspaper back in 1987 (he served 2 years).

Another author who has spent time in prison for something unrelated to controversy over their own writing is Indian author Arundhati Roy. Roy’s jail time was decidedly shorter and was a protest rather than a scandal: she served one day for contempt of court over her role in a protest against the building of a large dam in India. In the world of fiction Arundhati Roy is best known for her Man Booker Prize winning novel of life in India:The God of Small Things. This is Roy’s first and thus far, only, novel.

The Man Booker has gone to first novelists four times. The only other time it has gone to a book which is still the author’s only novel was in 1985 when the prize went to New Zealand author Keri Hulme for her novel of the Maori people of New Zealand: The Bone People. Keri Hulme was born in Christchurch, New Zealand but her ancestry is of mixed Maori, English and Orkney Island Scottish.

Probably the most famous Orkney Island writer is George MacKay Brown. Born in 1921 in Stromness he is known as the “bard of Orkney”. His fiction and poetry celebrates the culture and lifestyle of these small northeastern Scottish Islands and he is best known for his novel Greenvoe which depicts a challenge to that way of life by outside forces.

Another author who has been praised for his realistic depiction of island life - this time our own island of Cape Breton - is Alistair MacLeod. Born in Saskatchewan but raised in Cape Breton, MacLeod’s writing includes short stories and a novel which all bring the way of life of Cape Breton into focus. In 2001, MacLeod won the International Dublin IMPAC Award, a major fiction prize, for No Great Mischief.

The IMPAC award has been given to one other Canadian since it’s inception in 1996. Last year, Rawi Hage won the prize for his novel of friendship and struggle in war-torn Beiruit - De Niro’s Game.

1 comment:

  1. Just discovered this collection of posts - love the idea! Lots of good reads by the looks of things, love how you went from such a blockbuster book like Angels and Demons to Canadian authors who are lesser known. Looking forward to the next one!