Leiden Book Club: Book & Film 6 – Cloud Atlas


  Since its initial publication in 2004, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas has garnered no small amount of acclaim. Its structure has been praised as ‘fantastic and complex’, its myriad voices have been called ‘distinct and superb’; it has won various awards, sold over one million copies and has been adapted into major motion picture. It is an opus cherished the world over — and I fucking hate it.  The novel begins, simply enough, on a beach in the Pacific Ocean. It is here that we are introduced to the first of many protagonists: a young notary from mid 18th century… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book & Film 5 – The Harp in the South


  I feel as though I begin every review I write by claiming scepticism upon the receiving the initial assignment. Maybe I’m pompous, maybe I’m just careful, but almost everything I have thrown into my lap is met with reluctance. This reaction was no different upon purchasing Book Club’s latest: The Harp in the South by Ruth Park. The Harp in the South, first published in 1948, is a gritty exploration of life in Sydney’s then-slum Surry Hills, set during the Great Depression for added appeal. The novel focuses most of its attention on the struggles of the Darcy family… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book & Film 4 – The Taming of the Shrew


  The works of William Shakespeare occupy a special place in the literary world: the larger-than-life characters; the tragic and/or comedic tales of love, power and death; and the countless speeches (‘friends, Romans, countrymen…’, ‘what light through yonder window…’, ‘out damned spot…’ etcetera, etcetera); all these things and more have been pounded into the collective consciousness so thoroughly that damn near anyone can cite something from at least one of his works. And yet, despite the ubiquity, one of the most enduringly popular Shakespearian plays (as far as my limited research can attest) is one of the least quotable —… Continue Reading