This month I read one thriller for my 'reading as a writer' around that genre, and two literary novels.

  • Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
    Why has nobody told me about this author before?! I stumbled upon this by chance, and really enjoyed it. It's speculative fiction about a dystopian future after a pandemic wipes out 99% of humanity, breaking down society entirely. Those who are left have to rebuild precarious basic existences, defending against those with the worst human instincts. But, amidst all of that, this is a story of humanity and hope. Highly recommend, and I'll now go out and buy her other novels and drip them into my reading in future as special treats.
  • Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
    Murakami books are like quicksand. At first it feels like slow going and you think you might turn back. But then, without warning, you realise you're in deep and can't move. The only way to proceed is to lie back, put your feet up and be carried by it. This is a biiiig book though and so was a little daunting at first, but by the end I wanted more. I don't know how he does it. The writing seems to be so lean and simple — yet the interior monologue is lengthy, detailed and deep, bringing you so close to the main character. I wouldn't put this up at the level of Murakami's best, but it was very good. Like all Murakami books you're left with a lot to think about afterwards and it takes some time to process. Essentially this is a story about art — its creation, its meaning, its enjoyment.
  • The Crocodile Hunter, Gerald Seymour
    A thriller in which the protagonist is an under-appreciated lowly counter-terrorism analyst in MI5, who was about to retire but then, by chance, gets to demonstrate the value of all his information gathering and analysis. He's persuaded to stay, and tasked with tracking down a British jihadi fighter who is returning for a suicide attack. Enjoyable. Reading as a writer though, one note is that the author has a distinctive abbreviated style — and uses that for all dialogue and internal monologues, so the characters all sound the same.

May 2024 reads

That joy of discovering a great author who's new to you, but has a back catalogue to buy up straight away.