Leiden Book Club Book 10 – Norwegian Wood


  Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is a behemoth. First published in 1987, it was written by Murakami as a challenge to himself: try to write a good book in a style you don’t like and see how it goes. Clearly it worked out in his favour, though, as the novel flung Murakami from relative obscurity into superstardom of such a degree that he apparently had to flee the country to escape it all. This is, to quote everyone who has told me about it, ‘the one book everyone in Japan has read’. Which makes it the perfect novel to round… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 9 – Persuasion


  Jane Austen has never been a particularly large blip on my literary radar. My mother has been a voracious fan since long before I was part of the world; and after I did become a part of it she would often put forward the Austen catalogue as a recommendation to me. I would smile and nod, acknowledging that no bookshelf is complete without a few Austens present, but never quite getting around to taking the plunge. This changed with Emma, which I only picked up in order to impress my future de-facto wife (also Emma). And while I found… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book Book 8 – Swing Time


  Swing Time, a novel by Zadie Smith, is an onion. There is layer upon layer upon layer; the more you dig, the more you will find to ponder and discuss. It’s likely you may shed a tear or two while reading, or at the very least, feel the odd tug on your heart strings. It’s not an easy book to review because, frankly, a lengthy essay would be more fitting (and for the hardcore literature nerds, much more satisfying). Swing Time is a best friend bildungsroman within which lies an acute social commentary about race, class and gender; an… Continue Reading