Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Oldest Book I've Ever Held in My Hand and an Upcoming Novel by a Favorite Writer
A few days ago at work I was going through a collection of old books in Danish in our stacks collection and spotted this series of collected works by an author totally unknown to me. The books looked really old and I opened the first one and took a look at the front page. It was published in Copenhagen in 1788! A year before the French Revolution! There were more than 10 volumes in the series, all published in the 18th century, the "newest" one in 1799. Most of the books in our stacks are from the 20th century, some from the 19th, but this one was the oldest I've found there. It is also the oldest book I've ever held in my hand! It felt a little special. :) Just think all the history that has happened since the book was published and how many hands have held it in these past 220+ years! Well, I just wanted to share this, my most exiting bookish moment this spring, with you all! :)
As you might have noticed I haven't blogged a lot this spring. I had a very good start in January and thought I would be able to blog more regularly, but unfortunately that was not to be. My reason: the same as always! :D Work and dancing. There is, after all, only 24 hours in a day! So, now I am totally lacking behind in writing reviews. We'll see if I manage to write something about the novels I've read this spring or I might just jump to the current moment and continue with my most recent reads. Today, however, I want to talk about an upcoming new novel by Courtney Angela Brkic called The First Rule of Swimming.
I first encountered Courtney Angela Brkic's writing when completely by chance a littel book called Stillness cought my eye in our English fiction section at work. If you have been following my blog for a while, you might remember that I am interested in fiction about the area that once was Yugoslavia. Brkic's last name cought my interest, I thought it might originate from that part of the world, and as I took a closer look of Stillness I noticed that it was in fact a short story collection set in war-torn Yugoslavia of the 1990s. I immediately borrowed Stillness, read it, loved it so much that I later bought a copy and have ever since been in the lookout for more fiction by Brkic. When NetGalley offered me the chance to read Brkic's first novel, I jumped at the chance!
The First Rule of Swimming tells the story of two Croatian sisters Magdalena and Jadranka, who were brought up by their grandparents on an isolated island called Rosmarina. Magdalena, a teacher, has always wanted to stay on Rosmarina, while her artistic and free-spirited younger sister has always had the tendency to run away. Knowing that in the past Jadranka has always returned sooner or later, Magdalena is not too worried when she learns that Jadranka, who has left for New York, has dissapeared. But when days turn into weeks and there is no word from Jadranka, Magdalena has to leave Rosmarina for America in order to try and find her sister.
This novel, however, is so much more that just a story about a missing person. The First Rule of Swimming is marketed as "a haunting and sure-footed debut... [That] explores the legacy of betrayal and loss in a place where beauty is fused inextricably with hardship, and where individuals are forced to make wrenching choices as they are swept up in the tides of history." Exactly! Deeds of the past are intricatelly interwoven with the deeds of the present. And sometimes people do unimaginable things to survive or to save their loved ones. Spanning from the Yugoslav times to the present day, and using multiple points of view to tell the story (I especially loved the choice to use the point of view of the bedridden, comatose grandfather), The First Rule of Swimming is a touching and thought provoking novel written in Brkic's beautiful prose.
The First Rule of Swimming by Courtney Angela Brkic will be published in May 28.