In this series, we’re asking authors, Guardian writers and readers to share what they’ve read recently. This month’s recommendations include a turning-the-page tale of a toxic relationship, a paperback poetry pamphlet, and an allegory of what it means to be alive. Tell us what you read in the comments.
Norman Erikson Pasaribu, author
Until recently, I hadn’t read anything cover to cover in almost a year. I was often anxious and stopped putting books down. But I found myself bringing The stories of Mary Gordon almost everywhere with me. I practiced a kind of bibliomancy with him, asking a question that worried me, and letting a random word, sentence or paragraph come up. The results required my own interpretation, but they were often surprising and helped me make sense of what had happened in my life.
In March, I regained some hope and energy and started reading short stories and poems again. I enjoyed Bora Chung’s cursed rabbit, which my friend Anton Hur translated. I re-read some poems by Khairani Barokka Orangutan ultimatum. It’s an exciting book of poetry – everyone should try to pick it up. And, last week, I finally bought Yōko Ogawa’s The Memory Police (translated by Stephen Snyder)! Such a poignant allegory of what it means to be alive, to remember, to have the freedom to remember.
Happy Stories, mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, translated by Tiffany Tsao (Tilted Axis £9.99) has been shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. To support the Guardian and the Observer, order your copy from guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.
Melissa, Guardian Reader
I read acts of desperation by Megan Nolan. Short, crisp chapters let you turn the pages long after you should have gone to bed! I’m a sucker for flawed, flawed storytellers and loved the internal dialogue of this unnamed storyteller as she navigates a toxic relationship.
Sana Goyal, critic
I recently read Preti Taneja’s second book, Consequences – written from “the center of a still fresh wound” – which allowed me to think about terror, trauma, mourning and the genre in which it is given shape, violence, vulnerability, memory, complicity and empathy. It made me come back and re-read bits and pieces of Lola Olufemi Experiments to imagine differently. The resonances between these two radical texts, which above all offer hope for humanity, are remarkable and should impose themselves on all.
Like many others, I think I’ve read Warsan Shire’s highly anticipated first book of poetry, Bless the girl raised By a voice in his head, eagerly, with a giant stroke. It exceeded my expectations, and soon after turning the last page of this collection, I wanted more – more poems centered on the coming-of-age experiences of Diaspora women of color. Pocket-sized, but packed with punch, Fathima Zahra’s pamphlet, Sargam / Swargamwas the perfect sequel.
Joe, Guardian Reader
I’ve never read Kazuo Ishiguro before, but he’s one of those great authors that everyone talks about and should have read. I took Never let Me Go on a whim, and was bowled over by the chatty intimacy of the first-person narrator. She takes us on a tender study of what it means to exist in a world where cloning has blurred the boundaries of humanity. Despite the clones’ otherness, the trials and turmoil they go through are hauntingly similar to those we all experience as we weave through life. For all its subtlety and depth, it still managed to move on, and I finished it within days. This is a book that will stay with me for many years.