Saturday, March 16, 2013

Five top novels about coming of age

Shani Boianjiu's debut novel is The People of Forever Are Not Afraid.

One of her five best novels about coming of age, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

In Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, the children are not quite human. They are clones, created for the exclusive purpose of providing organs for real humans. Starting from their school years, the novel recounts the lives of three close friends—Kathy, Tommy and Ruth—through Kathy's eyes. Highly perceptive, she delivers pedantic-sounding observations and shows barely any emotion. Still, the book's tone is a deeply moving one—it succeeds brilliantly in transforming the shocks of a dystopian society and the horrendous moral questions they raise so that they seem, in time, undisturbing. It is in the territory of more familiar human connections that the characters and their plight are most affecting. In their youth, Tommy and Kathy are unable to develop a romantic connection. As adults, they ask a former teacher why they weren't told the truth about what awaited them. She gives them an honest answer: "We kept things from you, lied to you ... but we sheltered you during those years and in many ways gave you your childhoods"—an answer that seems directed as much to the children of our own society as those of Ishiguro's world.
Read about the other novels on Boianjiu's list.

Never Let Me Go is on Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue