Author Archives: mkevane

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.

Hard Times, by Charles Dickens

I always enjoy reading Dickens, and Hard Times was a treat, partly because it was relatively short. (He can go on and on sometimes.) Lots of insight into local economic, political, and personal lives of industrializing Britain in 1854. It … Continue reading

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Visite au Centre de lecture et d’animation culturelle de Boromo #Burkina

Dans le cadre de la coopération entre les bibliothèques appuyées par Amis des Bibliothèques de Villages du Burkina Faso et le centre national de lecture d’animation culturelle/CENALAC, le coordonnateur de ABVBF Sanou Dounko, a visité le 19 janvier 2022 le … Continue reading

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Dr. Eleven theme from Dan Romer…

I had guessed it was Iron & Wine…. excellent Americana.

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The Actual Star, by Monica Byrne

An ambitious three time period story (1012, 2012, and 3012) revolving around Maya cosmology. More mysticism and dystopia than science-fiction (the 3012 Earth has greatly reduced population but amazing technology but nobody seems to study science or engineering so….?). I … Continue reading

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The Quiet American, by Graham Greene

Our book group read and discussed The Quiet American, by Graham Greene, last week. I had read it before, but honestly remembered very little, which isn’t a good sign. Enjoyed it second time around. Excellent writing, interesting context (the Vietnam … Continue reading

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The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier

The Anomaly, by Hervé Le Tellier. Everything about this novel is familiar: as you read you are thinking, “Is this not a TV series?” (It is not Manifest.). “Is this not already a novel?” (It is not The Leftovers.) “Didn’t … Continue reading

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The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, by Edmund de Waal

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, by Edmund de Waal, is an interesting somewhat fictionalized family memoir. De Waal basically researches the background of his great-grandparents’ generation, the out-of-Odessa fabulously wealthy Ephrussi family of Jewish bankers. Based in … Continue reading

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Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky, is a delightful short blend of sci-fi and magic-fantasy, where the truism that advanced tech might as well be magic is nicely illustrated. A la Connecticut Yankee, I suppose. But Tchaikovsky goes one step better, … Continue reading

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Landfalls, by Naomi Williams

Excellent!

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Le cousin Harki, by Farid Boudjellal

I enjoyed this BD, even though it seemed to wander lots of places. And the idea of a Zappa-loving young person interacting with a former Harki in a convalescent hospital in Nice seemed, well, rather odd, but I guess in … Continue reading

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Kwei Quartey, Death by His Grace

Enjoyable detective novel. Lots of interesting Ghana-related details, as usual.

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Frank Yerby The Treasure of Pleasant Valley

Excellent novel from Yerby, with insightful passages on the injustices and stereotypes that stained the westward expansion.

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Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope

Friends know I took every occasion to talk up this novel. I spent a bit of time also in the Trollope rabbit hole, which is a home of many mansions. There was so much to appreciate and savor in Phineas … Continue reading

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Hail Mary by Andy Weir

After the (for me) disaster of a novel Artemis, I started Hail Mary with trepidation. But it opened well. The Martian back to form. A really interesting science fiction science problem, plausible enough to engage the reader. But trouble follows. … Continue reading

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Vendredi ou la vie sauvage by Michel Tournier

Honestly, I read this just to read something in French. This is the young adult version (written by Tournier) of his longer 1967 novel. In may have been seen as edgy and genre-bending then, with a painfully drawn out colonialism … Continue reading

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Frank Yerby, The Garfield Honor

Frank Yerby’s The Garfield Honor was published in 1961. Well-written potboiler serving as allegory of the 1870s Texas frontier expansion crushing the souls of both those literally expelled but also those doing the expelling. The language is strong. My hunch, … Continue reading

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Longitude, The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel

A pop history account of the competition between John Harrison, who made the first precision marine clock in around 1735, and the astronomers of the time (such as Edmund Halley, who figured out you could determine longitude by the difference … Continue reading

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Herman Melville, White-Jacket

Pretty awesome reading. Reading random chapters in no particular order worked fine. As usual with Melville, the prose is engaging and clear, and the level of extraneous detail about how a Man of War worked, in terms of the interpersonal … Continue reading

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When the Emperor was Divine, by Julie Otsuka

Read for my short book club, to be discussed next week. Poetic in its sparseness, devastating in its account of how trauma, in childhood and adulthood, irrevocably changes people. I don’t always like to link fiction to social sciences, but … Continue reading

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Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Fantastic novel that will linger for many years in my memory, to be sorted out. With just a few building blocks, Ishiguro addresses a lot of subtle philosophy and rich description of what an interior emotional life could mean.

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