In other literary news, I finished reading Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, and I have an oddly mixed response to it. She's a good writer; her prose is lovely and the story was compelling and very readable. But I ended up feeling like a lot of the plot choices were made not because they were integral to the characters, but because they were politically useful -- i.e., the main character is involved with a series of women, and each woman ended up feeling like she was created in order to serve a purpose, to make a point. It didn't end up feeling quite organic, or true. I think. The DesiLit Chicago book club is going to discuss this book in February, so I might have a better sense of my reaction to it after that conversation.
I also read Xu Xi's Chinese Walls, which I enjoyed immensely. This is a book combining her short novel Chinese Walls with a story collection, Daughters of Hui. The stories are complex, sexual, unflinching, culturally sophisticated, and great reads. If you like my work, I think you'll really like hers, which focuses on Hong Kong, rather than Sri Lanka. Xu Xi is teaching with me at Vermont; it's nice to know that someone I liked so much is also a terrific writer. :-) Now I need to go get all her other books...
Hmm...just went to Amazon to add her books to my wishlist, and saw that Publisher's Weekly gave a really snide review to one of her books, The Unwalled City. A chorus of readers immediately rose up in defense of the book. Interesting. I hope if PW snubs Bodies in Motion, I'll get some defenders too... :-/
Next book to read, I think, will be another Vermont professor's -- Sue Silverman's Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction. She has a really interesting essay on her site about women writing confessional memoir, and the lack of respect they receive for it.