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Chewing Gum

A satirical narrator relates the tale of a mythic hero who attracts academic interest and a down-to-earth heroine who goes her own way. Libya comes to life across the centuries through the story of a Tripoli park. Families live their lives, often scandalous, whatever changes occur and everyone chews gum. This is not a book about recent Libyan regimes - or is it? I'm just beginning to understand it. Definitely worth a second read.

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The Looking-Glass Sisters

What a read - events in the story are shocking, even repulsive yet the words it uses to describe them are so beautiful. Sympathy rebounds from one sister to the other. Who is the victim and who the aggressor? I changed my mind frequently. Claustrophobia and isolation in lives and landscape create a dreamlike quality which lurches into nightmare. I can't say I exactly enjoyed it but it pulled me back in each time I took a break. Powerful stuff.

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Tiger Milk

Through Nini’s narration we experience her coming of age with best friend Jameelah. As these teenage rebels teeter on the brink of adulthood, the innocence of youth is shattered by the realities of urban life in Germany. A tried and tested plot formulae, I found the familiarity of the storyline both comforting and gripping.

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The Incarnations

Good for a wild ride through ancient and modern China, this reads a little like a short story collection although there is an overriding story arc concerning who is sending Wang mysterious letters and why. I wouldn't call it an enjoyable read, since it’s really very grim and unsettling. Yet the unpredictable nature of the narrative is intriguing, and it is certainly a powerful story.

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