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John Klassen

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KLASSEN ON BOOKS - February 2016 By John Klassen (Reviews)

 

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JOHN KLASSEN

 Elmer Mendoza

 Mendoza (1949-) is a Mexican novelist and short story writer. He is a professor of literature at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa. He is a key figure in, some even consider him the originator of, the genre known as 'narcoliterature' that explores the effects of drug trafficking and corruption in society. Silver Bullets is the first of Mendoza's novels to be translated into English.  

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - TOP TEN 2015 - By John Klassen (Reviews)

 

John Klassen

 

TOP TEN 2015
FICTION

Edward Lewis Wallant: The Pawnbroker
A novel about the tortured soul of a Holocaust survivor, now a pawnbroker in Harlem (1950s), a man who is socially and emotionally bereft, living a life for which he sees no purpose. The loss of his family in the camps appears in only a few, separate moments of reminiscence but these heighten greatly the emotional impact. Wonderful writing throughout. (Reviewed on JustOttawa in December)

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - December 2015 - By John Klassen (Review)

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 John Klassen

 

Kamel Daoud

Daoud (1970-) is an Algerian writer and journalist. The Meursault Investigation is his first novel.

 

The Meursault Investigation

It is a bold writer who takes an acknowledged classic, Camus's The Stranger (aka The Outsider) and writes a novel that gives the other side of the story as told by the brother of the man who is murdered in the Camus book. 

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - October 2015 - By John Klassen (Review)

 

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Reviews by John Klassen

 

Alistair Urquhart

 

Urquhart (1919- ) is a retired Scottish businessman. He wrote The Forgotten Soldierat the age of 90. It became a best-seller and Urquhart was much in demand as a public speaker.  After retiring from business, he taught computer skills to retired people and continued with his passion for ballroom dancing.

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - September 2015 - By John Klassen (Review)

 

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Reviews by John Klassen

 

David Holdsworth

 

David Holdsworth is a retired public service officer who worked abroad and held a number of positions including in the Privy Council Office. He has now turned his skills to writing with a sharp eye for the foibles of government and public service.  His first novel: The Ambassador’s Camel: Undiplomatic Tales of Embassy Lifedescribed the antics of diplomatic life in a fictitious country.  His new book turns inward with a funny, satirical focus on the “tough on crime” agenda of the current government.

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - June/July 2015 - By John Klassen (Review)

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John Klassen

 

Mairtin O Cadhain

O Cadhain (1905-1970), whose name could most closely be rendered in English as Marteen O’Kine, was an Irish novelist, short story writer, journalist and school teacher. O Cadhain is considered Gaelic Ireland’s most important writer and a pioneer in Irish-language modernism. He wrote principally in Irish and also translated some works from English. The Dirty Dust is considered one of the greatest achievements of the Irish novel.

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - May 2015 - By John Klassen (Review)

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 John Klassen

 

Juan Gabriel Vasquez

Vasquez (1973-) was described by The Guardian as, “among the most inventive and erudite or Colombia’s emerging generation of novelists”.  He lived in Paris (1996-1999) and received a doctorate in Latin American Literature from the Sorbonne, followed by Barcelona for about 10 years, until 2012; he now lives in Bogota.  Vasquez has written three principal novels: The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana,and The Sound of Things Falling; the last won the International Dublin Literary Award in 2014; the first South American writer to do so.  There were two earlier novels, but Vasquez prefers to ignore them. 

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - April 2015 - By John Klassen (Reviews)

 

 

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John Klassen

Helen Macdonald

Macdonald is an English writer, naturalist, and an affiliated research scholar at the University of Cambridge Department of History and Political Science. Her book H is for Hawk (2014) won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and the Costa Book of the Year Award.  Earlier books include Shaler’s Fish (2001) and Falcon (2006).

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - March 2015 - By John Klassen (Reviews)

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John Klassen

 

Gary Shteyngart

Shteyngart was born in Leningrad (1972) and moved to the USA at the age of seven.  His novels, which have received various awards, include The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), Absurdistan(2006), and Super Sad True Love Story (2010); he published a memoir, Little Failure (2014).

KLASSEN ON BOOKS - February 2015 - By John Klassen (reviews)

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John Klassen

Elena Ferrante

Ferrante is an interesting person and a terrific writer.  She is the author of seven novels over 20 years.  She is very popular in Europe and increasingly so in North America, but she maintains a strict anonymity.  She has given interviews only in writing, and has provided a bare minimum of personal information:  she is from Naples, she is a mother.

AUSCHWITZ REPORT By John Klassen (Book Review)

Auschwitz

Report by Primo Levi and Leonardo de Benedetti.

This report was commissioned by Soviet authorities as a description of life in the camp, and it is the first thing that Levi wrote about his experience in Auschwitz.  The Report describes the transport by train for four days from Italy, general life in the camp, and perhaps because Benedetti was a medical doctor, much of the short piece focuses on medical conditions and illnesses.  One can clearly see information and incidents that Levi expanded upon in his later books about the camp and life afterwards.  Levi and Benedetti survived the camp together, made their way back to Italy through a long and tortuous route, and remained life-long friends.

KLASSEN ON BOOKS Dec 2014 By John Klassen (Reviews)

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John Klassen

LEO PERUTZ

Leo Perutz (1882-1957) was a Jewish Czech -Austrian writer. More Austrian than Czech; he moved from Prague at 7; lived in Vienna until the ? Anschluss when he moved to Palestine; returned to Austria occasionally in the 1950s; died visiting friends in Austria in 1957. Perutz is said to have been admired as a writer by Borges, Calvino, Ian Fleming, and Graham Greene.

Booklists by Klassen

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John Klassen

BOOK LISTS

I like book lists whether compiled as the “Top 100 of the Year”, or the “Top 100 Novels of All Time” or, more modestly, lists of favourites from authors, and the lists of the many individual annual literary prizes. The lists are fun and may lead one to dis bycover new books; they certainly illustrate the breadth and depth of reading that can be done; and sometimes they are frustrating because they reinforce the knowledge that no matter how long you live, you will never read all of the books that you would like to.

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