Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Five best novels on friendship

Lan Samantha Chang is the director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her latest novel is All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of novels on friendship.

One title on the list:
The Golden Notebook
by Doris Lessing (1962)

'The two women were alone in the London flat." Thus opens a series of unflinching scenes from two years in the lives of Anna Wulf and Molly Jacobs. These key characters in Doris Lessing's novel—a work blisteringly truthful about money, love, politics and sex—became friends as members of the British Communist Party. Each is divorced and raising a child. Molly is preoccupied with the direction life is taking for her 20-year-old son, Tommy, while the talented Anna, the author of a best seller, suffers from writer's block. The narrative unfolds in excerpts from Anna's journals, ultimately becoming a record of her struggle against emotional breakdown. "The Golden Notebook" has been variously judged a feminist treatise, a commentary on the end of Stalinism and a cornerstone of postmodernism. All valid readings, but the book is, for this reader, brilliant above all in its portrayal of the subtle facets of friendship, love and self-deception—and as a portrait of a complexly lived inner life.
Read about another novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue