Saturday, October 15, 2011

Five best books on nations & lives in transition

Martin Fletcher, NBC News's former Tel Aviv bureau chief, is the author, most recently, of the novel The List.

One of his five best books on nations and lives in transition, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Small Island
by Andrea Levy (2004)

With her fourth novel about Jamaicans seeking a better life in the motherland, Andrea Levy adds a twist. "Small Island," set in 1948, is as much about the British adjusting to Jamaicans as about Jamaicans adapting to Britain. In both cases, it was not easy. I remember the first black man to live on my street in London, in the 1950s; he moved in with Anne White next door. What a to-do! The rustle of lace curtains, neighbors' hands flying to cover their mouths as the couple strolled hand-in-hand. In Levy's story, a young immigrant named Hortense confronts the abyss between her lofty expectations and the postwar racist British reality. The man she has married is a disappointment, too. But Hortense marches on, swinging her handbag, overcoming every obstacle, and Levy's witty, penetrating, dead-on portrait of Britain's postcolonial discomfort is a triumph.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue