Hooray for the BTIBMTGT Pah-Tay!
Here’s who’s chimed in so far:
This was a successful endeavour for me. However, it didn’t happen in an evening. *shrug*
The first book success on my list was People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Our Paula recommended it, here, and it’s been on my List of Books That I’ve Been Meaning To Get To since that post.
I found it at the library! I actually checked out a book, read the whole thing, and got it back to the library without a fine. Ah! Plus one for the General Competence!
The long and short of the book: The Sarajevo Haggadah, an illustrated manuscript dating from the 1400s, is revealed in 1996 in Sarajevo. Fictional character Hanna is called in from Australia to conserve the book. The author takes bits from the real story of conservation and extrapolates “what-if” scenarios concerning who owned the book through its travels from Morocco to Israel, from 1480 to the present day.
It was a quick read, three days, which on Beth scale equates to all y’all to about 2.5 hours. It was not especially difficult to follow the plot or cultures or politics.
Reading this book brought to mind my reading of The Dogs of God, by James Reston, Jr (2006). I also have recently had the opportunity to take a week-long course in archaeology lab conservation and identification techniques, so Hanna’s concerns were of especial interest to me.
Three things I very much appreciated in Brooks’ writing were
1) her lack of concern for dumbing down or Americanizing cultural terms and local lingo, such as sabra, or the local Aboriginal Australian dialect. I had to look up many of those terms or go back and re-read dialogues for context. Currently, my three students are all Muslim, so it was great for me to have to go and learn new terms and concepts.
2) You know what? many of the People of the Book were women. For every other story, Brooks imagined women owning, saving, creating the book.
3) Brooks’ science was not stupid, and her lingua-chemistry connections were really informative, especially concerning the sources of pigments and colors and why they are named what we know them today to be named.
Next: Another Arturo Perez-Reverte, my first Salman Rushdie experience, some Graphic Novels, and The Tome. Oh! and also that one by Michael Chabon.