Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sofka Zinovieff

Sofka Zinovieff has published two acclaimed works of nonfiction, Eurydice Street and Red Princess, a biography of her paternal grandmother.

Her latest book is The House on Paradise Street, her first novel.

A few weeks ago I asked Zinovieff what she was reading.  Her reply:
The last book I read was Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal – a beautiful, hilarious and distressing look back at the childhood that was made famous by her first book Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. Adopted and brought up in an unhappy, Pentecostal, working-class household in northern England, Winterson brings shame to her adopted mother by admitting she is gay. The response is what gave the book’s title. What Winterson also reveals is how hard it was to leave behind her painful past, even after huge success as a writer. Although it is often dark, the story is one of brutal honesty and redemption. The prose is luminous.

J. M. Ledgard’s Submergence is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. This novel tells a thrilling story in poetic language, and manages to cover most of the important subjects of our times, from terrorism to global warming, without being heavy or overwhelming. And it’s a love story.

Anne Rowe’s Orpheus. A biography of the mythological character. Learned, lyrical and endlessly interesting.

I am currently reading Juliet Gardiner’s Wartime: Britain 1939-1945 as part of the research for the book I am writing now. Gardiner has gathered up a wonderful collection of archives to give a fascinating and accessible picture of what life was like during the war. Ration cards, awful food (“Mock duck” and “mock cream” feature as well as spam), black-out blinds, and plans for the best methods of suicide if the Nazis actually managed to invade. Captivating.

I don’t usually read crime fiction, but I was given a copy of The Green Lady by Paul Johnston. Like me, he is a Brit living in Greece, who is fascinated by Greek society and history and putting it into fiction. This fast-paced thriller takes the myth of Persephone (with her prolonged stay in the underworld after eating too many pomegranate seeds) and combines it with the corruption of the contemporary Athenian super-rich, ecological protesters and dubious politicians. Hugely enjoyable.
Visit Sofka Zinovieff's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House on Paradise Street.

--Marshal Zeringue