What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Hot and cold biographies this week....
First up was White Fever by Jacek Hugo-Bader. Subtitled: A Journey to the Frozen Heart of Siberia.
From the publisher Counterpoint Press:
"No one in their right mind travels across Siberia in the middle of winter in a modified Russian jeep, with only a CD player (which breaks on the first day) for company. But Jacek Hugo-Bader is no ordinary traveler. As a fiftieth birthday present to himself, he sets out to drive from Moscow to Vladivostok, traversing a continent that is two and a half times bigger than America, awash with bandits, and not always fully equipped with roads. But if his mission sounds deranged it is in keeping with the land he is visiting. For Siberia is slowly dying — or, more accurately, killing itself. This is a traumatized post-Communist landscape peopled by the homeless and the hopeless: alcoholism is endemic, as are suicides, murders, and deaths from AIDS. As he gets to know these communities and speaks to the people, Hugo-Bader discovers a great deal of tragedy, but there is also dark humor to be found amongst the reindeer shepherds, the former hippies, the modern-day rappers, the homeless and the sick, the shamans, and the followers of ‘one of the six Russian Christs,’ just one of the many arcane religions that flourish in this isolated, impossible region."
Next up was A Free Man: A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi by Aman Sethi.
From the publisher W.W. Norton:
"An intimate portrait of an invisible man—a powerful story of one man’s life that contains multitudes.
Mohammed Ashraf studied biology, became a butcher, a tailor, and an electrician’s apprentice; now he is a homeless day laborer in the heart of old Delhi. How did he end up this way? In an astonishing debut, Aman Sethi brings him and his indelible group of friends to life through their adventures and misfortunes in the Old Delhi Railway Station, the harrowing wards of a tuberculosis hospital, an illegal bar made of cardboard and plywood, and into Beggars Court and back onto the streets.
In a time of global economic strain, this is an unforgettable evocation of persistence in the face of poverty in one of the world’s largest cities. Sethi recounts Ashraf’s surprising life story with wit, candor, and verve, and A Free Man becomes a moving story of the many ways a man can be free."
(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to
the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my
interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But...I can mention them
and maybe one of them will catchy your eye as well. See if your local library
has them on their shelves!)