An International Student of Literature in England.
Today is a special day: I have NOTHING to do :-O . It’s hard to believe it but I’ve finally finished reading all the books for this semester! Wooooo! Champagne for everyone! 😀 My joy won’t last for long so I’ll make the most of my time until I get the essay questions and more work to do. It feels so good though.
The last two books I had to read were Pig by Andrew Cowan and Swimming Home by Deborah Levy.
I was slightly worried about Pig because I’d been told that it was a mediocre “Year 7” kind of book and that the only reason why it was on the syllabus was because the writer was head of Creative Writing at UEA. It might not be the best novel in the world, but I really enjoyed it! The story is quite sad: after Danny’s grandmother dies, his grandfather – unable to live alone – is forced to go and live in a care home. Danny’s refusal to accept that his grandparents can’t live forever and that things have to change mirror his refusal to grow up. This is mainly characterised by him taking care of his grandparents’ home and their old pig although everybody makes him understand that his behaviour is ridiculous. The novel also deals with Danny’s first love, Surinder, and racism.
I found Pig really touching, mainly because I could identify very easily with the protagonist and it reminded me of my grandparents. For all these reasons, I’d say it was one of my favourite books on my course so far, after Lolita obviously. Andrew Cowan will lecture on his own book, so I’m quite excited for that.
The second novel, Swimming Home was also sad and even a bit weird. It takes place in the South of France, near Nice, and it’s about a group of English friends who rent a villa during the summer. Unfortunately, they realise that a stranger, Kitty, has also rented the villa: she is invited to stay in the spare room since she has nowhere else to go. But we soon discover that she did it on purpose in order to get closer to one of the characters, Joe, who turns out to be her favourite poet. At this point I can’t say anything else, and although the ending is sad, it’s a great novel! I definitely recommend it!
I think the main reason why I loved this novel is because I know the setting, the French Riviera, really well since that’s where I come from! Reading about places I know such as Nice, La Promenade des Anglais, Grasse, Villefranche and even Valbonne (my town!!) felt really weird. When they mentioned Nice and its “beach down the road”, “the hotel Negresco”, “North African people”, or even the crickets, or “pine needles in swimming pools” I knew exactly what they meant, I felt like I was THERE, walking in Nice with the characters. That was a strange experience – it made me feel slightly nostalgic – but it was cool!
The Easter holidays are only three weeks away, time goes so fast. I’m super excited at the moment because on Monday, one of my favourite artist, Steven Wilson, will release a new album, and I’ll go see him live in Cambridge the week after. If you’ve never heard about him, go check him out, him and his band are incredible musicians. I’ll also see Placebo for the first time in the LCR (campus venue) the same week! Two gigs in one week, what could be better? 😀