An American Marriage by Tayari Jones review – a marvellous feat of storytelling


This post is by Carrie O’Grady from Books | The Guardian


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A wrongful conviction powers this Women’s prize-shortlisted novel of the black American middle-class experience

African Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of white Americans, and the negative impact of a criminal record is much greater for African American job applicants. How do black Americans navigate such a grossly unfair system, and maintain their dignity?

Tayari Jones deals with these issues wisely and sensitively in An American Marriage, shortlisted for this year’s Women’s prize for fiction. Her previous books have garnered praise across the US, but this latest one hit new heights when it was named as a favourite by both Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama; Oprah is in talks to make it into a film.

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My Life As an Explorer by Sven Hedin – the great unknown


This post is by Carrie O’Grady from Books | The Guardian


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An intrepid traveller’s tales from the days when Terra Incognita still existed make thrilling and terrifying reading

• More journeys in literature

It’s an axiom of travel writing that, if n represents the discomfort endured by the writer, 10n represents the pleasure enjoyed by the reader. Look at the perennial appetite for the stories of Scott and Shackleton, who battled unimaginably hostile conditions in their searches for the South Pole. Not for nothing did Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a member of Scott’s expedition, call his book The Worst Journey in the World. In 93 years, it has never been out of print.

Sven Hedin, a Swedish explorer born in 1865, is not nearly so well known. But his sufferings were just as acute, and his memoir, My Life as an Explorer, is a fascinating period piece as well as a nail-biting read. Hedin lived in an age when maps really ...