1. Édouard Louis, The End of Eddy. LitHub wrote: “Even in the wake of Knausgaard and Ferrante it is hard to find a literary phenomenon that has swept Europe quite like the autobiographical project of Édouard Louis.” I don’t know that I enjoyed this book very much, but it was an effective fictional experience. Most of all it scared me that such a tale of poverty and abuse could be so popular in Europe these days. Recommended, but in a sobering way; I would rather this had been a bestseller in 1937.
2. Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs. A novel about the consequences of a Delhi terrorist bombing that is both deep and compelling to read, full of surprises as well. Here is a useful NYT review.
3. Edward T. O’Donnell, Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age. This focuses more on George’s connection to social and labor movements, and less on George as an economist or land theorist, than I would have liked. Still, it is an information-rich narrative that most of all brings the times and movements surrounding George to life.
4. Andrew Marr, We British: The Poetry of a People. A good introduction to its topic, most of all for the mid-twentieth century, with plenty of poems reproduced. Here is a Louis MacNeice poem, Snow:
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes —
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of your hands —
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.