Sunday 5 February 2023

Two-for-one “takeout special” on a Sunday evening…

It’s nearly supper time, but I realized that I hadn’t blogged in a couple of weeks, and I also had a book club meeting yesterday, so I decided to write this super-quick post for two books, not like a full dine-in experience, more like ordering takeout.

Two weeks ago, I read my first mystery by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason, The Darkness Knows, the first in the “Detective Konrad” series, and since I hope to one day visit Iceland, it was more than just a mystery;  it was a bit of an education and a trip prep.  In this novel, a group of German tourists are hiking on a glacier when a dead body turns up under the ice, preserved as if the individual died yesterday.  Due to climate change, this shrinking glacier revealed its decades-old secret, and newly retired detective Konrad becomes unofficially involved in the reopened case of a missing businessman, a case whose main suspect had to be released due to lack of evidence.  Now that the case is reopened, the suspect is reinterviewed and Konrad, who was involved in the original investigation and who has been haunted by this unsolved missing persons’ case for decades, resurrects his investigative role to soothe his own conscience and hopefully to finally lay to rest the niggling doubts he has about the original investigation.  This was an interesting read that, while fairly slow-paced, still had me turning pages to find out what Konrad would get up to or uncover next.  It was very interesting to read about Iceland and the necessary evil that is the tourist industry for the Icelandic economy.  I’m sure I’ll read other mysteries by this author, but not right away, as I once again have so many books to read and so little time.

And my volunteer book club met yesterday to discuss Hana Khan Carries On by Canadian author Uzma Jalaluddin.  Set in Scarborough, Ontario, this novel centres around Hana Khan, a twenty-four-year-old Muslim woman who lives at home with her parents while she works as an intern at a radio station after completing her Masters degree in broadcasting, as well as helping out at the Three Sisters Biriyani Poutine restaurant, owned and run by her family, mainly her mother and older sister.  When a rival halal restaurant slated to open in the same neighbourhood threatens to shut down Three Sisters, Hana tries to do everything in her power to stop this competition, even though the owner is a very cute guy with whom she has a discordant relationship.  Meanwhile, she pours her deepest feelings into her podcasts, and engages with her favourite follower, StanleyP, as they trade messages about life, love and family secrets.  Speaking of family secrets, did I mention that there are some family secrets in Hana’s life that come to light when her cousin and aunt make a surprise visit from India?  Will Hana be able to save the restaurant and keep the rival out of the neighbourhood?  Can she get a real job and help pay the bills?  Can she overcome the trauma of racism she experiences?  And will she and her rival overcome their differences and accept their budding romantic feelings, or will she finally agree to reveal her identity to StanleyP?  You’ll have to read the book to find out the answers to these and many more questions!  This book was a really good book club selection.  Everyone enjoyed it, and felt that Hana was a strong female protagonist who was mature almost beyond her years.  We found the racist attack very disturbing, and felt that it really changed the dynamics of the story, giving it a more serious tone.  We liked all of the characters, but I think we all agreed that cousin Rasheed was our favourite.  I thought it was very much like a Jane Austen novel, a comedy of manners exploring social customs, but with a cultural twist.  At this point, I can’t think of any other specific points we brought up, but we were so engaged in our discussion that we lost track of time and were forced out by a group of bridge players who were the next occupants of the room.  I would highly recommend this novel that could be a Teen crossover novel if you were looking for some light reading that was not all fluff and had a distinctly Canadian flavour.

Speaking of flavour, it’s time to enjoy a big bowl of Curried Pumpkin Soup.  Have a wonderful week, and keep reading!

Bye for now…

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