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Metro 2033
Metro 2033
par Dmitry Glukhovsky
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 12,30

1 internaute sur 1 a trouvé ce commentaire utile :
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Russian post-atomic SF novel, 15 février 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Metro 2033 (Broché)
This is an SF novel, not of the inter-galactic type but situated inside the Moscow metro system. It was published in Russia in 2005 and over 2 million Russians have bought its on-line version. Its success has inspired persons and companies to create online games, blogs and further episodes. This book has spawned an industry. What is it about?
Moscow's survivors of an atomic strike are hanging on to life in its subway network, designed by Stalin and his successors to withstand nuclear warfare. Theoretically, its 100+ stations should shield millions, but when the bombs struck, only subway passengers and a few lucky people above ground made it into the system before its doors and gates closed. Survivors stayed on in its stations and over time each station developed its own coping system re survival and security, guarding its entry- and exit points from inside the tunnels. Going outside by day means death from radiation (nuclear, sun). At night, highly-paid Stalkers clad in protective gear venture into the destroyed city on behalf of investors, to retrieve key items...
The book's hero is Artyom. He is in his 20s, an early orphan, brought up by foster father Sukhoy, a kind of diplomat for the tube station they live in in. Tube stations have become stratified into e.g. communist, fascist, free trade and purely criminal enclaves. Followers of other faiths or worldviews dominate other stations. Some adjoining stations have merged into confederations. The strongest is the Hanze-federation controlling on the Moscow circle line every station where branch lines come in.
What makes this a novel is Artyom, who is given a task by a man described as the Hunter, a killer assigned to protect the system against fatal dangers from within and outside. If he fails to return from his next mission, Artyom has to carry a verbal message to a person living in Polis...
This is a rich novel for aficionados of SF and perhaps academics, because Artyom meets many interesting people on his Odyssee to Polis. It is a complex of four stations below Moscow's city centre where the last living scientists and artists live, a community willing to pay high rewards to Stalkers to retrieve books from the mega library above ground, rather than for fuel, food and other key resources...
Final words, SF is not my favorite genre. But this book is rich in terms of ideas. It should appeal to readers welcoming an unusual thriller-like, almost classical epos in a dark, and dangerous, underground universe.


The Grandmothers
The Grandmothers
par Doris Lessing
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,55

3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Weird, well written account about a taboo, 13 février 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Grandmothers (Broché)
Was this novella written long ago or a recent creation? Dorris Lessing (1919) won the Nobel prize for literature in 2007. This novella was published in 2003. It is a woman's book about two little girls, Lil and Roz, who went to school together when they were small. They have remained close friends ever since and became opposite neighbours in an idyllic US beach resort full of artists, despite husbands and children. Both have a son.

Lil's adulterous husband kills himself in a road accident, Roz's husband is unhappy about his marriage and moves out. Which leaves two youngish, busy working mothers with an adolescent son each. What happens next will cause some readers to gasp for breath. What happens between the foursome is not punishable by law, but... No one on the street and in the coastal resort itself suspects anything, but how long can this go on? Longer than one would expect...

Rich novella, which starts with an intrusion from an unexpected angle. Challenging novella that cannot ever end happily. Dear readers beware: this novella is offered as a stand-alone offer and/or as title-holding book with a much larger collection of her stories. Go for the best offer.


Kolymsky Heights
Kolymsky Heights
par Lionel Davidson
Edition : Relié

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant, forgotten masterpiece, 12 février 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Kolymsky Heights (Relié)
Bought this novel long ago at a market stall and was struck by its imaginative power. One friend has read this compelling spy story four times by now. I reread it only once. Having given away my own copy, I have to rely on my memory to entice readers to enjoy this captivating spy novel, which ultimately is also a love story. This brilliant novel is about sneaking into Siberia and getting out again during the Cold War.
Kolyma is one of the coldest regions on earth hosting many labour camps in the Stalin era. This story is situated in eastern Siberia, some of whose native people migrated millennia ago to Alaska and western Canada. The novel's hero Johnny Porter is a Canadian Native Indian with a gift for language, who turns out to be well able to communicate with speakers of his ancient ancestors' language: because he received a plea for help from a security agency: the Soviets are doing something very suspicious and dangerous in a super-secret laboratory deep inside the permafrost of Kolyma... And as the song goes, Johnny goes. And how!
For readers to discover and enjoy is how Johnny Porter infiltrates into the Soviet Union and finds his way to Kolyma, survives there while investigating, and most of all how he gets out again...
Author Lionel Davidson (1922-2009) is an enigmatic person. In the 1960s and `70s he won three Gold Dagger Awards, the top British prize for crime writing. Then, for 16 years, he fell silent. Until recovering from whatever ailed him to write this book, first published in 1994. Alas, by then the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was old news and his book was ignored as part of a genre no longer en vogue. Written ten or twenty years earlier, it would have been a major bestseller.
A very enjoyable piece of writing and high on my list of great books that failed to become a bestseller.


A Deniable Death
A Deniable Death
par Gerald Seymour
Edition : Relié

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Thriller about IEDs, roadside bombs, 12 février 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : A Deniable Death (Relié)
Gerald Seymour (GS) is a bestselling author on armed conflicts involving the UK. This is his 28th thriller, in which, as always, he portrays his heroes and villains spot on against authentic backgrounds. This sprawling, well-plotted novel confirms his reputation as one of the best writers about emergencies involving military, police and intelligence services.

Rachid, a brilliant Iranian engineer in miniature electronics, sneezes on a work in progress. Months later in Iraq, his DNA is lifted from a disabled IED. Later, cigarette butts collected by a local MI-6 recruit outside his alleged home in Iran confirm his identity. Bomb architect Rachid is always a step ahead of his detractors, despite tens of billions in R&D investments in the US: he uses basic science and imports from Dubai of key technology made in the USA. GS invokes poet Rudyard Kipling re Afghanistan in the 19th century, where and when massive force and science failed against cheap, new forms of attack and simple rifles made in what is today Pakistan...

This thriller contains a handful of sometimes depressing storylines and has an emotional start and finish in the small town of Wootton Bassett, where `Middle England' honours its repatriated war dead. What follows is the tale of a deniable, multinational effort to `interdict' the man responsible for most of the allied forces' dead and wounded in Iraq and the alliance's retreat: Rachid, the Engineer.

The bulk of this epos concerns two British rural surveillance experts with a police background. They are almost press-ganged into the operation, poorly briefed and flown quickly to Iraq to sneak across the border. To wade through hostile marshland to eavesdrop on the Engineer's well-protected home. To assess his future movements and set him up for the final kill. But camouflage experts Foxy (51) and Badger (28) loathe each other from the start...

The novel exudes many emotions: hypocrisy at the top; ambition, hopes of redemption at the middle level. Because all actions must be deniable, only marginal, expendable operators are involved, including the 2 infiltrators: Foxy speaks Farsi, Badger is his mule and neither has a shining future ahead of them. Profound book about values and motivations of people and agencies waging war far away from home. Emotions at the cutting edge of the operation and its back-up team run high too. But what determines the outcome is courage, holding firm, and ultimately, sheer heroism. Highly recommended!


Shock Wave
Shock Wave
par John Sandford
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 7,89

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Light prose, quirky hero, nice background, 12 février 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Shock Wave (Poche)
John Sandford (JF) created two dozen police procedurals around Lucas Davenport (LC), an unusual police investigator in Minneapolis, wealthy thanks to computer games and simulations he designed. He drives to work in a Porsche. This reader never enjoyed LC as a character as much as e.g. Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch or Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder.
This police procedural is JF's fifth about Virgil Flowers (VF), a roving policeman in rural Minnesota and answerable to LC. This reader missed his previous adventures and lots of background. What I learnt about him: he married 3 times and divorced 3 times within 3 years, which is quite a feat. He likes fishing, is a male bonder, good networker and rational thinker, always keeping his options open. He looks like a hippy, loves Diet Coke, McDonald food and rare t-shirts. Finally, he seems a somewhat religious person, which is quite rare in this genre. But his occasional references to boners and its equivalents cast doubt on the depth of his faith.
Whatever. This thriller is about a series of deadly bomb attacks with the first striking the boardroom of the Michigan-based HQ of PyeMart, a supermarket chain. Days later explosions destroy a PyeMart building site in a town of 18.000 in Minnesota and later target several individuals, incl. VF. With help from a fellow fishing fiend, a focus group-like survey is held to highlight the most likely suspects. Meanwhile, finding a compelling motive behind the explosions is another challenge. Instructive about the methods and impact of big supermarket chains on small towns' existing businesses.


The Mullah's Storm
The Mullah's Storm
par Tom Young
Edition : Poche
Prix : EUR 7,89

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Page turner, 3 février 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Mullah's Storm (Poche)
Author Thomas Young (TY) is a former Air National Guard C-130 co-pilot/navigator and veteran of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. His philosophy about how to become a successful thriller writer is to let your own worst fears guide and inspire you. This debut novel shows he is a great writing talent. And his worst fear fuelling this story was being shot down and having to survive in hostile enemy territory...

This breath-taking adventure begins after the Taliban were driven from power in Afghanistan in 2002 or 2003. A Hercules is shot at and crash lands shortly after take-off from Bagram airbase during a snowstorm. It carried 10 crew and passengers. Some are dead, others wounded or unharmed. The pilot (both legs broken) orders his co-pilot major Parson (broken wrist?) and sergeant Gold, a female interpreter, to leave the crash site with the main passenger, an elderly, senior Taliban mullah. He was on his way to Guantanamo for further questioning and must stay alive (not become a martyr) and not be allowed to flee and continue inciting violence, incl. calling for a nuclear attack on US targets.

What follows is a harrowing account of constant snowstorms or thick fog, hunger and cold, and occasional acts of violence. The plot's twists and turns, with TY always in control, are for readers to enjoy and shiver through. TY provides good background on weaponry, military telecoms and uses of GPS. He is hawkish about the Taliban's philosophy and control methods, but hails the courage and fervor of Afghan Army fighter Najib and colleagues, who were part of a Special Forces team which stumbles on the crash survivors at a critical moment.

The book is a monument to the courage of US, UK and other ISAF-partners' airmen and ground troops in Afghanistan. TY has published two more novels describing his worst fears, with sergeant Gold at newly- promoted Parson's side. A new series has begun...


Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991
Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991
par Lidwein Kapteijns
Edition : Relié
Prix : EUR 54,03

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant study in support of introspection and reconciliation, 20 janvier 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Clan Cleansing in Somalia: The Ruinous Legacy of 1991 (Relié)
On the 17th of January 2013, US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton and the newly-elected president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced that the USA recognized a newly-formed Somali government for the first time since 1991. But in the same week the Somali al-Shabaab movement apparently executed a French national they held since 2009, after French efforts to free him failed. Where does Somalia stand now?
Readers like me know little about the collapse of Somalia in 1991, its long gestation and horrific aftermath, except for dramatic TV-footage or novelist Nuruddin Farah's two trilogies about his country of birth. The novel `Human Love'(2006) by Russian-born, French author Andreï Makine (AM) is another book linking fiction with history. His brilliant novel about the Cold War in Africa is supposedly written by a nameless KGB-near Soviet journalist. In its final 30+ pages, he pictures the surge of rebellion against the weakened Somali strongman Syad Barre. AM writes about lengthy, failed Soviet negotiations with members of the Manifesto group to bring about an organized, bloodless transition. In his novel they are said to have been willing to sign a pact with anyone, the USSR, America, the Devil, anyone who would most quickly provide most arms and most funding. And that they came across as insecure of themselves, not tough enough and that soon the real warlords would make themselves felt, men who would not have their hesitations. And adding that neither SU nor US intelligence had a clue about what was happening...

Who made up this Manifesto group and who were these real warlords?

Dr. Lidwien Kapteijns answers these and many other questions in a carefully-researched study about the dramatic years of 1991-2, examining their historical roots and immediate aftermath. She states her objectives in a strongly-worded Introduction, which some readers may find rather abstract. But the conceptual framework is applied rigorously throughout the study and turns out to really make good sense. By studying Somali poetry, a core cultural tradition, she succeeds in getting a grip on the myths preceding the fall of Barre in 1991. And also, but more discreetly, on its role during the clan-based warfare and the intense suffering of non-combatants which continues to the present day, despite the hopeful signs shown at the start of this review.
Another major objective of her study is to convince and offer evidence to opinion leaders in Somalia and in the worldwide Somali diaspora that what happened in 1991 was not a freak incident, but a planned, albeit not inevitable event. Her reconstruction is based on a wide range of available, more or less credible sources, with each assertion carefully backed by sources. Her claim that the assault on Mogadishu was engineered and that its planning had deep roots in earlier state violence against selected parts of its own people, is convincing and backed by numerous sources.
In 1991, Somalia was viewed as having a single language, culture and faith, with a mythical forefather whose male children formed clans and sub-clans. The clans and their interaction were Dr. Kapteijns' main units of study; only outsiders like this reader deplore the absence of a diagram showing the clans' position relative to each other. Understandably, only a few examples of hate-narratives and other incendiary statements are included. Her book is based on tons of carefully-chosen data, using different genres of Somali poetry sparingly and in a non-confrontational manner, but to great effect; she has combed the Somali blogosphere, the written press and press releases from Somali and other radio stations and has interviewed eye-witnesses of the events in 1991 in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Yemen and in the Western diaspora in person or by telephone.
Dr. Kapteijns tells a complicated story backed by an awesome body of evidence for a work aimed at reconciliation, with many cross-cutting issues and plenty of intelligent questions asked and moral issues to be considered and anticipated. Rich book. Not a word out of place.


The Crime of Olga Arbyelina
The Crime of Olga Arbyelina
par Andreï Makine
Edition : Broché

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Overdone, wild and larmoyant, but with good parts, 15 janvier 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : The Crime of Olga Arbyelina (Broché)
Having read eight or nine of his books, this is my least favorite novel. It was his fifth, a true challenge after becoming a millionaire with his fourth,`The French Testament', after winning both the `Prix Goncourt' and `Prix Médicis', France's most prestigious prizes. In an interview with a Dutch journalist in 1999, Makine stated that his aim with this new book was to make it `a completely unacceptable novel in every respect'.
He has surely succeeded: (1) He made incest between Olga, a mother and her nameless son the centerpiece of a novel situated among exiled Russians in France. They live in a former brewery where Olga, a former princess with a dismal love life, serves as librarian. How the incest began is for readers to discover. In the interview AM also confessed to an almost insane identification with the mother character. (2) This seriously impairs the simple joy of reading and awareness about what happens, because AM infuses a stream of thoughts, fears and dreams into the somewhat unsteady mother character, which are sometimes hard to follow.
On the plus side, the book's epicenter is 1947. It goes back to 1900, Olga's year of birth, and extends well into the here and now, as shown at the start of the book. And as always, AM's tales about Russian exiles are truly amazing, his treatment of this weird colony is spot on. As such this rich, confused novel cries out to be read, studied and nit-picked again and again. E.g., who is the thinly-clad person asking questions at Olga's grave and who is the graveyard's almost mythically old and tall caretaker when the book takes off?


A Life's Music
A Life's Music
par Andreï Makine
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 11,84

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant novella, 15 janvier 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : A Life's Music (Broché)
Beautiful novella about a delayed train journey in Russia in mid-winter, the journey itself, and its outcome at its destination Moscow. Stuck in an ice-cold railway station in the Ural mountains with a crowd of waiting passengers, the writer of this tale goes in search of a chair to sit on. In the station's attic he sees an old man passionately playing a piano without touching the keys, crying while playing. They greet, acknowledge each other.

When the train finally arrives, the old pianist whistles from a distance to indicate where there is still space: in a 3rd class compartment, newly hooked onto the train. This is when the book really takes off: the pianist tells his life story during the days before the train reaches Moscow.

The nameless raconteur arrives in freezing Moscow at 06:00 in the morning. His onward connection leaves shortly before midnight. One man does not follow the weary, limb-stretching crowd of passengers to the exit. It is the pianist, who takes him under his wings. A remarkable ending follows.
All essential data and details are withheld and are for curious readers to discover and savour. A warm, outstanding piece of writing and a grand read!


Human Love
Human Love
par Andreï Makine
Edition : Broché
Prix : EUR 10,56

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dramatic Love Story during the Cold War, 15 janvier 2013
Ce commentaire fait référence à cette édition : Human Love (Broché)
Andreï Makine's novels deal with real persons living through dramatic times in Soviet history and the new Russia. This intriguing novel is about three persons: the Angolan professional revolutionary and spy Elias, Russian Anna, daughter of survivors of ice-cold, harsh Siberian re-education camps, and the story teller himself, a nameless Russian writer and war correspondent not unlike the late (Polish journalist) Ryszard Kapuscinski. It covers decades of death and suffering of innocent Africans against the background of the Cold War and exploitation of their natural resources...
When Elias flees the Portuguese colony of Angola at the age of 15, he has witnessed plenty of violence and injustice. In the Congolese province of Kivu, he sees his father being killed and also how Ernesto `Che' Guevara failed in his efforts to start a revolution... Next, Algeria, Moscow, Cuba, Moscow again, where Elias is trained and primed to become an asset in the struggle against imperialism. He is brilliant learner, but has his own doubts: what is missing in Marxist ideology and its Soviet practice, is respect for common people. As everywhere else.
In Moscow, the still young Elias is assaulted by a racist gang. He is saved by Anna, who tells them off in Gulag-slang. Later, they tell each other about defining, magical moments in their lives and recognize in each other feelings that set them apart from the rest of the world, which slips into mayhem and disaster due to a systemic, inborn lack of love and compassion. Anna takes Elias to Sarma, her home village in Eastern Siberia in mid-winter, a week's journey by train and other means. Sarma's inhabitants, all camp survivors welcome Elias warmly as if one of their own. Elias will never forget Sarma or Anna. They meet again, very discreetly and platonically in the decades to follow, wherever he and she are assigned to places where her husband is a diplomat and where Elias' task is to help or organize regime change.

The thought of the simplicity, tranquility and warmth of living one day in Sarma permanently with Anna, despite winter temperatures of up to -60 C, gradually become Elias' last hope of survival, realizing the SU he served so long is about to collapse and will have no further use for his services. Returning to Angola would mean instant death. A dramatic showdown follows in Mogadishu in 1991... Finally, the most interesting character is the storyteller. He goes far beyond what other, more politically-correct novelists dare say about African politicians, writers, development experts and their involvement with foreign companies dealing with oil, diamonds, today perhaps in fertile farmland.

Highly recommended novel, which will reverberate in readers' minds for a long time.


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