Brother Kemal by Jakob Arjouni (Book Review)

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This is the fifth, and sadly last, book in a series written by Jakob Arjouni who died earlier this year.  The ‘Brother Kemal’ referred to in the title, is a Private Investigator, of Turkish descent, living and working in Germany.  Kemal is asked to take on two separate cases; finding a missing 16 year old girl and acting as a bodyguard for a Muslim writer at the Frankfurt book fair.  I didn’t expect to enjoy this book because I find that books translated into English from their original language often feel stilted but this was a pleasant exception.  Kemal has a sarcastic sense of humour that appealed to me and made him feel very real as a character.  The story touches on subjects that are topical and thought provoking; the sex trade and differing religious attitudes towards modern social issues, without labouring the points made.  The characters surrounding Kemal made the story interesting and different.  He lives with Deborah who has Jewish German ancestors, Kemal’s parents were Turkish Muslims yet neither of them follow any religion.  Kemal is working for a French woman and an Arabic novelist simultaneously and all in all the book has a very cosmopolitan feel to it.

 

Written in the first person, Kemal appear to the reader, as a steady, no nonsense character with a very complex past.  Seeing his world through Kemal’s eyes was refreshing and the depth of social detail made this book intriguing.  Kemal’s first experience of the Frankfurt book fair, as a bodyguard to the author; Rashid, was a vivid description that was very realistic.

 

The storyline at first seems like two totally unconnected cases in the life of a Private Investigator, both of them having seedier elements and both drawing the reader in.  The interception of details of his private life making a rounded account of a week in the life of a PI.  The ending was unexpected and added an element to the story that made me want to read to the last page.  This may have been my first Jakob Arjouni crime novel but it won’t be my last.

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Hay on Wye

The Hay book festival is the highlight of my year.  I love it.  The sea of white tents, the colourful flags flapping in the breeze,  the lamb burgers, Pimms and lemonade, the friendly people – all with a same purpose and, of course, the authors.

I’ve seen and heard so many people over the years.  My best ever talk was an unexpected one.  I went along not knowing I was about to have a life changing experience, in fact I only booked the tickets because there was a gap in my schedule.  A Lucky Child is a memoir written by Thomas Buergenthal.  A old man now, he is the most inspirational person i have ever had the honour to listen to.  I’ve been to Hay and listened to many speakers and this was the only talk that has ever received an ovation that went on and on.  He is a truly great man.

Thomas Buergenthal writes with a simplicity that is non-judgmental and the story of his youth, while horrific, tells you much about the man he will become.  I felt, while reading this excellent book, that I personally would have raged against the unfair way I had been treated.  I would have sought revenge.  Not Mr Buergenthal’s way at all.  After the harshness of his childhood he has used his experiences to help others in similar circumstances today and he is a former judge of the International Court of Justice.

I knew nothing about the inhumanities currently taking place in some parts of the world in the 21st century.  I didn’t know that sex, religion and sect still matter and are the excuse for mass murder, acts of terrorism and oppression.  I do know,  I felt the need to research and find out for myself after listening to this mild mannered, quietly spoken man who dismisses his own terrible past while striving to help those who are suffering today.  His memoir is a ‘must read’ book and I strongly recommend it.

 

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Getting to grips with a new medium

Hi  well at long last I’m going to start blogging.  Firstly, a little about myself.  I’m a school librarian and part time comper. I’ve a husband, a grown up and married son and 2 cats.  Soon I will be a Grandma.  I’ve started using the internet for fun as well as a research tool and I’ve been reading blogs and I thought ‘I want to do that!’  So here it is, my first post.

It’s the summer break and no more work for 6 whole weeks.  So what am I going to do with all this time?  The truth is very boring.  I use  it to catch up on all the jobs I don’t have time for in the busy school year.  I’ve already taken 6 bags of jumble to the charity shop and 4 bags to the tip.

I also read all the books I’ve been trying to get around to during the year.  I’ve quite a stash and reading them will be a pleasure.  I read anything and everything.  I like well written teenage fiction, good thrillers and anything different and unusual.  I love it when I come across a book that doesn’t fit neatly into any of the recognised genre.

I wanted to start a blog because I’ve been accepted to review a few books during the year and I wanted to pass on my thought about them. I used to review children’s books and now I’ve moved on to adult fiction.  I also want to run a few comps of my own.  Once i understand what I am doing with blogging I might even get some followers!  Who knows 🙂

So here i am, and if you are reading this, hello and welcome.  Please feel free to comment, offer help / criticism or just your view of the world.