Keuzelijst Engels, aanvulling 2020-2021

Download hier de printversie van de keuzelijst Engels.

Betekenis symbolen: het aantal boekjes (1, 2 of 3) duidt op de moeilijkheidsgraad van de boeken.


Stay with me

Ayòbámi Adébáyò
E19-01
2017, 298 pages

Yejide and her husband Akin met and fell in love at university. After a few years of marriage, the couple have not yet been able to conceive the child they want so much. Although both of them are opposed to polygamy, Akin feels forced by the absence of a baby to consider another wife. And while Yejide decides to try everything in her power to get pregnant and not to lose her husband, the drastic risks she’s willing to take may prove too high a cost.

This heartbreaking story is Nigerian author Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s debut novel. Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of the 1980s, ‘Stay With Me’ is a story about the desperate measures we sometimes take to save ourselves and our relationships.

The Silence of the Girls

Pat Barker
E20-01
2018, 291 p.

This book comprises a retelling of the Trojan War, this time from the point of view of a young woman. A Greek army led by Achilles attacks a small city, killing the men and abducting the women, including Briseis, the childless wife of the king. When the women are given to the leaders, Briseis is awarded to the nearly-invincible Achilles. Serving unveiled at Achilles table, Briseis eventually realises why he wants her to be seen by his comrades. The following events - Achilles refusal to join the fighting and the deaths of Patroclus, Hector and, finally, Achilles himself - lead to the fall of Troy and are told from the perspective of a womans experience of war and its lack of glamour. This memorable book presents a different view on the way stories about the brutality of the war are usually told, both in the past and in the present. In The Iliad, Briseis plays a minor role, but in this book she tells her own story.

The Immortalists

Chloe Benjamin
E20-02
2018, 352 p.

The book is set in New York in 1969, when four siblings in the Jewish Gold family are given a fortune tellers predictions of their dates of death. The next forty years of each of the childrens lives are consecutively followed as "the day" comes nearer. They all lead full lives: Simon escapes, searching for love, to the West Coast, while Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, Daniel seeks security as an army doctor, and Varya dedicates herself to science. Do the predictions come true for one or all of them? How did the predictions work out? Did the fortune teller have a special gift? Was it just coincidence? Or were the outcomes caused by the children themselves? The Immortalists is a very entertaining, well-written family novel, occasionally mysterious and occasionally thrilling. It is about the bonds between siblings, but also about religion and science, destiny and free choice, and reality and illusion. A very good read.

Middle England

Jonathan Coe
E20-03
2018, 432 p.

In this State of the Nation novel we meet characters from Coe's earlier books The Rotters' Club and The Closed Circle. Working around main character Benjamin Trotter Coe presents the reader with a sometimes harsh, sometimes kind description of people from various classes during the period in which the British had to cope with the outcome of the referendum on leaving, or staying in the EU, causing deep rifts between all kinds of Britons, also between families. Nostalgic memories of what England once was and will never be again, along with downright racism, opportunism and ruthless politicians rushing forward to a break from Europe of which no one really understands the political and especially the economical impact. Coe is a sublime creator of "Brex-Lit". While exposing the various bewildering situations around Brexit and people's feelings and reactions he maintains a benign attitude towards the "Middle Englanders".

Girl, Woman, Other

Bernardine Evaristo
E20-04
2019, 452 p.

It is the opening night of The Last Amazon of Dahomey, a play written by Amma, a black woman in her fifties, who is a free spirit, a lesbian and a feminist. In the audience is Shirley, Ammas oldest friend, a school teacher who has become disappointed in a school system that no longer takes childrens fluctuating needs into account. Shirley is surprised to see Carole again, one of her former pupils, who is now an investment banker and whose mother, Bummi, feels that her daughter has rejected her Nigerian culture by marrying a white English man. Meanwhile, Morgan, who used to be Megan, is there to review the play for the one million followers on her Twitter account, which was initially set up to describe her journey to a gender-free identity. Evaristo, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019, describes the lives of twelve very different (black) women, who are all trying to become their true selves in spite of societys gender- and race-based expectations

Happiness

Aminatta Forna
E19-02
2018, 320 pages

Distracted by a fox, two pedestrians collide on Waterloo Bridge. These are the main characters in Forna’s latest novel: Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist specialising in trauma, and Jean, an American wildlife biologist studying the habits of urban foxes.
Attila is in London to deliver a keynote speech and to contact his immigrant niece, who has not called home for a while. Eventually it turns out that Tano, his niece’s young son, is missing. When Attila and Jean meet again by chance, she uses her network of volunteer fox spotters to help with the search. As the quest continues, an unusual friendship between Attila and Jean develops.

This book tells a story of migration, loneliness and connection between people and animals and depicts a wonderful portrait of London and its inhabitants. Forna’s novel is a slow-paced and satisfying novel, full of modern-day issues and observations.

Asymmetry

Lisa Halliday
E19-03
2018, 277 pages

In part one of this debut novel, junior editor Alice has an affair with Ezra Blazer, a famous, much older author. Their romance takes place in New York in the early years of the Iraq War.
Part two abruptly switches setting and moves to the Immigration Office at Heathrow on the last day of 2008. Doctorate student Amar, an Iraqi-American, is detained on his way to see his brother in Kurdistan. He tells about growing up in the US in an immigrant family and wrestles with questions of memory and identity.
The third part of the novel contains the transcript of a short radio interview with Ezra Blazer talking about his musical preferences. Although the three parts seem at first sight to be unconnected, they are tied together in a very subtle way.

‘Asymmetry’ is an ambitious and beautifully written book that can seduce the reader to reflect on themes like race, nationality and power. Highly recommended.

Elizabeth is missing

Emma Healey
E20-05
2014, 275 p.

Maud, in her eighties and the narrator of this novel, suffers from dementia. She asks the same questions over and over again and no longer likes reading because she can never remember where she left off. Sometimes she doesnt even recognize her daughter and granddaughter. All over her house are bits of paper telling her what she should or shouldnt do. One of these notes says that her friend Elizabeth is missing. Maud is determined to find out what happened to her. Mauds search triggers memories about the time Sukey, her older sister, disappeared, just after the Second World War, and was never found. Being constantly inside Mauds mind gives us a clear picture of what aging feels like. Despite the descriptions of the frustration and anger that dementia causes, the tone of the novel is warm and funny rather than sombre.

A Different Drummer

William Melvin Kelley
E20-06
1962, 294 p.

One day in the late nineteen-fifties, a young African-American farmer Tucker Caliban throws salt on his field, shoots his horse and cow and burns his house to the ground. He leaves the fictional town of Sutton, in the south of the US, taking his wife and baby with him. Black inhabitants of Sutton followed suit. When asked where they are going the answer is: North. White people discuss Tuckers possible motive but cannot come to a satisfying conclusion. The story unfolds in eleven chapters told from the perspective of different white people, among them Tuckers employer. The governors statement on the black exodus is: We never needed them, never wanted them, and well get along fine without them. But there is a lot more to the story. Fifty-six years after its first publication a literary jewel is rediscovered.

The Mars Room

Rachel Kushner
E19-04
2018, 338 pages

The Mars Room is the strip club where Romy Hall used to work as a lap dancer. She is now in Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California, serving two consecutive life sentences plus six years. Her seven-year-old son Jackson is staying with her mother. The events leading up to her incarceration are described in a series of flashbacks.
Through Romy’s eyes the reader learns about the rules of life inside and gets to know a wide range of characters: Conan, a woman who looks and behaves like a man; Betty LaFrance, who is on death row; Button Sanchez, who gives birth in prison; Doc, a dirty cop, and Gordon Hauser, who is hired to teach the prisoners literature.

The novel gives an interesting insight into the American prison system and although the main character has many shortcomings, the author has succeeded in making her quite appealing nonetheless.

The Wall

John Lanchester
E20-07
2019, 276 p.

After a climatic development called the Change, an island very similar to Great Britain has built the Wall - a massive defence structure around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, the storys narrator, has to serve two years on the Wall as a Defender, staring out to sea, keeping watch and making sure the Others dont get in. For every Other who makes it across the Wall, a Defender will be banished from the country and is put out to sea on a boat. Just as Joseph is growing closer to Hifa, one of the other defenders, something happens that changes everything. John Lanchester presents us with a disturbing vision of the possibly not-too-distant future, based on present trends such as climate change, anti-refugee sentiment and post-Brexit shortages. The result is a story that grips the readers attention from the start, with an ominous sense of danger pervading the entire novel.

Moon Tiger

Penelope Lively
E19-05
1987, 208 pages

Claudia Hampton, historian and author, lies in a hospital bed, recalling a life full of adventure and relationships, while making a last attempt at writing a world history as seen through her eyes and connected to events that have happened in her life. Focusing especially on the Second World War, when she was stationed in Egypt as a newspaper correspondent, she tells the story of the tragic romance that has influenced her life ever since.

‘Moon Tiger’, a classic haunting story of loss and desire, won the Man Booker Prize in 1987. In 2018, it was decided to mark the prize’s 50th anniversary by awarding the Golden Man Booker Prize. Although ‘The English Patient’ by Michael Ondaatje won this prize, Moon Tiger was chosen by Guardian readers as their all-time favourite winner.

Lost Children Archive

Valeria Luiselli
E20-08
2019, 350 p.

A woman and her husband, both audio documentary makers, are driving from New York to Arizona with her five-year-old daughter and his ten-year-old son. The man is interested in the Apache leaders who were the last to surrender and wants to make "an inventory of echoes", while the woman is planning to work on an audio project about the many refugee children who go missing when trying to enter America. During the road trip, presented through the eyes of the woman and the boy, it becomes clear the family is slowly drifting apart. The two children then decide to run away in the hope of making things better for them all because "If we too were lost children, we would have to be found again." To the main story line, the author has added another layer addressing the various ways of telling a story. The use of references and quotes from a variety of books, documents, films and poems results in a clever and interesting novel.

Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng
E19-06
2017, 338 pages

Shaker Heights is a model town with beautiful houses, wide lawns shorn to perfection and inhabited by perfect families. The perfect family featuring the story are the Richardsons, father and mother with successful careers and 4 teenage children getting fantastic grades in High School. Only Izzy, the youngest, is rather out of tune with the rest of the family.
The appearance on this idyllic scene of a shabby looking family means quite a change in the orderly lives of the Richardsons. Mia is an artist/photographer. She has decided it is time for her and her 15-year old daughter Pearl to settle somewhere after their hitherto itinerant lives and hopes to achieve this by renting a cheap “half a house” from Mrs Richardson. Lots of unexpected developments occur. In the end we find the Richardsons on their now not so perfect lawn, watching the fire brigade trying to extinguish the last flames of their burnt down house.

A gripping story about identity, attempts at being a good parent, surrogate motherhood and adoption

Warlight

Michael Ondaatje
E19-07
2018, 304 pages

In 1945, fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel are unexpectedly abandoned by their parents, who are moving from London to Singapore for a year. Nathaniel and Rachel are left in the care of two strangers, an enigmatic figure called the Moth, and Pimlico Darter, a former boxer and dog-racing fixer. Shortly after their parents leave, the children find out that their mother has left her trunk of clothes in the basement. So something mysterious must have happened.
The novel, set in post-Second World War London, is Nathaniel’s reconstruction of what happened in the past and also a quest to find his parents. It contains a number of layers, including Nathaniel’s coming of age and the work of the secret services after the end of the war.

Michael Ondaatje is a Canadian writer, well known for his novel ‘The English Patient’. The same subtle, dream-like style of writing is also found in ‘Warlight’. It is great literature and a beautifully written spy thriller.

The Way of all Flesh

Ambrose Parry
E19-08
2018, 416 pages

A historical crime novel set in 19th-century Victorian Edinburgh. The protagonist, Will Raven, is a medical student and an apprentice to the brilliant and renowned gynaecologist Dr Simpson. After several young women are found dead in the Old Town, all having suffered gruesome deaths, Will and Sara, a clever young housemaid he meets in Dr Simpson’s house, try to solve the murders.
The story also focuses on medical history and evolution in this pre-caesarean period, especially the newly discovered science of anaesthetics.

‘The Way of All Flesh’ is an interesting novel of historical fiction and both entertains and informs. The writing is very readable, and you will find yourself being drawn into the story on the first few pages.

The Dutch House

Ann Patchett
E20-09
2019, 336 p.

In this novel a mansion provides the basis for the Conroys. Its called The Dutch House by locals because the first owners were of Dutch origin: the Van Hoebeek dynasty. Self-made property magnate, Cyril Conroy buys the mansion from the bank including the furnishings and personal belongings from the former owners. Cyrils wife Elna doesnt feel comfortable in the house and leaves her husband and their two children, Maeve and Danny. Cyril then marries Andrea, a young widow with two daughters. When Cyril dies Andrea disinherits Maeve and Danny. Its touching to read about the unconditional love between brother and sister; how they park their car in front of the mansion time and again and talk about the life they had together in the Dutch House. Ann Patchett shows herself to be a master in portraying characters. The reader gets to know them all well and understands why they make certain decisions whether they are wise or not.

Normal People

Sally Rooney
E19-09
2018, 266 pages

This novel follows the lives of Marianne and Connell, who grow up in a small town in Ireland. Marianne lives with her mother and brother in a large mansion, where Connell’s single mother works as a cleaner. Marianne is a social outcast, while Connell is popular at school. They begin a secret relationship that stops during their final year at high school when Connell treats her badly.
A year later, they are both studying at Trinity College in Dublin and now it is the other way around: Marianne feels comfortable at university, and Connell doesn’t seem to fit in. Over the following years, they repeatedly find themselves drawn to each other, on and off.

This is a book about a fragile love affair, written in a witty and warm way. It is one of those rare books you can’t put down because the characters are so endearing.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World

Elif Shafak
E20-10
2019, 312 p.

After Tequila Leilas death her mind continues working: for 10 minutes and 38 seconds to be precise, during which time she remembers the important events in her life that shaped her into the woman she became. In these memories, the reader is introduced, in turn, to Leilas five best friends, all of whom are desperately trying to find her. This is a unique novel, which tells not only the story of Leilas life, but also that of her friends. It is about being different in an unforgiving world, while also providing interesting insight into civil turmoil in 1970s Istanbul and growing up in a mostly Muslim environment.

Girl Meets Boy

Ali Smith
E19-10
2007, 161 pages

This novella tells the story of two sisters, Anthea and Imogen, living in Inverness. Anthea dislikes her job at a local PR firm. Imogen (‘Midge’) is pursuing her ambitions at the same firm, which is trying to market bottled water. The story kicks off when a protester, known by the alias ‘Iphis07’, vandalises the firm’s property. Anthea falls in love with the boyish girl Robin (the protester) and has to figure out what she wants from life. Imogen, on the other hand, learns about the dark side of global business. In this way, both sisters have to cope with big changes in their lives.

‘Girl Meets Boy’ is a retelling of Ovid's story of Iphis and Ianthe, which deals with the idea of gender fluidity. Ali Smith manages to weave the ancient myth through with modern Scottish stories and current political issues. Her writing is gentle, poetic and humorous. A very special read!

Don’t Skip Out on Me

Willy Vlautin
E19-11
2018, 304 pages

Horace Hopper has lived and worked on a ranch in Nevada since he was a teenager. His parents don’t care about him. Mr Reese, the ranch owner, wants Horace to take over the ranch as he and his wife are childless and Horace is good with horses and cattle. Although they love Horace as if he were their own child, Horace dreams of a career as a boxer. His ambition is to become world champion to impress his parents. He therefore leaves the Reese family and meets a coach who trains him and organizes boxing matches. But then slowly but surely it becomes clear that Horace’s dream is a delusion.
Mr and Mrs Reese worry about him and try to keep in touch with him. Finally Mr Reese finds him and takes him home. But things are not what they seem. The novel is about the loneliness of Horace and how he comes back to Mr and Mrs Reese.

Willy Vlautin is an American writer, who started out playing the guitar and writing songs and who founded the band Richmond Fontane. He writes beautiful American English prose.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Ocean Vuong
E20-11
2019, 242 p.

This novel tells the story of Little Dog, the son of Vietnamese immigrant parents in the US. This is done in the form of a letter addressed to his illiterate mother. Dear Ma, I am writing to reach you even if each word I put down is one word further from where you are. The writing is a mix of a shared past with his traumatised mother and a schizophrenic grandmother as well as his own thoughts and feelings. He is lonely and discriminated against because of the colour of his skin. He finds a friend in Trevor and growing up they discover their teenage sexual love for each other. The letter to his mother is at the same time a search for his own identity. This debut novel contains autobiographical elements and is written in a precise, poetic style about the strong will power of a man who has to overcome many difficulties.

Miss Jane

Brad Wilson
E19-12
2016, 279 pages

The story begins with the birth of Jane Chisolm in rural Mississippi in 1915. It is immediately clear that she has a rare genital deformity that will have an enormous impact on her entire life as it is doubtful whether she will ever be able to become a proper wife and mother. There is very little love left between her harsh mother, who is still grieving for the death of her favourite son, and her father, who drowns his sorrows in his home-brewed whiskey. Nevertheless, Jane is happy roaming the woods and the fields surrounding their farm. Fortunately she has a true friend and confidante in Dr Thompson who takes a personal and professional interest in her and admires her for the way she handles whatever life throws at her.

What is admirable about ‘Miss Jane’ is that the author, who based his main character on his great aunt, has managed to describe a life full of challenges without becoming overly sentimental.

The Salt Path

Raynor Winn
E20-12
2018, 288 p.

The Salt Path is the story of author Raynor Winns remarkable journey walking the South-West Coast Path with her husband Moth. Just as their home and livelihood are taken away from them, the couple find out that Moth is suffering from an incurable illness. Against all advice, and with all their belongings in their backpacks, they start their journey from Somerset to Cornwall, trying to survive with barely any money. Even though this book is non-fiction, it is written in a way that reads like a novel. Knowing that these are real-life events makes the story intriguing and heartbreaking, and at the same time inspirational and empowering. It gives a beautiful insight into the way every person deals differently with hardships they encounter.

Frankissstein: A Love Story

Jeanette Winterson
E20-13
2019, 346 p.

Frankissstein consists of two stories, told alternately. One is set in present-day Britain and America and tells the story of the young transgender doctor Ry and his lover, Victor Stein. Stein is a professor with great ambitions in the field of artificial intelligence. The other part is set during the life of the author Mary Shelley and tells the story of what led her to write her novel Frankenstein and her life after its publication. What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the most intelligent being on the planet? In this book Winterson creates a background to and future perspective of the classic Frankenstein. Filled with humour, this book examines not only artificial intelligence, but also modern sexual relationships and even bringing people back to life. A unique approach to both Frankenstein and artificial intelligence.