Book recommendations from Marina Warner
Sophie Herxheimer, Velkom to Inklandt is a story in poems in which Sophie voices her granny, a refugee from Germany who arrived in London and made her home here, happily. It is spirited, funny, tender and very perceptive. It is also illustrated vividly by hand.
I was very touched by Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, about a robot an ‘Artificial Friend’ destined for ‘a slow fade’; Ishiguro writes with unique poignancy and shows remarkable prescience.
Giorgio Bassano, The Garden of the Finzi Contini, trans. From Italian by Jamie McKendrick (first of the Ferrara novels, collected in one volume) is a magnificent, classic novel with a melancholy and enigmatic love story at its heart; the background is closely based on historical events in northern Italy during the Fascist years and records, piercingly, the serious anti-semitism that destroyed a flourishing, unsuspecting community.
Ferdinand Mount, Kiss Myself Goodbye – about his mysterious aunt (Hunca) Munca. One improbable disclosure follows fast upon another in the hands of a master storyteller and social observer. It’s laugh-out-loud funny at times and also sad; it is also a brilliant investigation into a social era and its aims and pretensions.
Oleanda, Jacaranda, Penelope Lively’s memoir of her childhood in Egypt was an inspiration to me when I was embarking on writing my own memories of Cairo, as we shared many experiences of the easy life there in the postwar period.