Microserfs for the Google generation with harrypotterish fantasy thrown in.
NB: I am a bit thrown off by a casual mention of a “Foundation for Women in Art” “organised for tax purposes” (= evasion) by a supposedly benign character.
The first book of the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind made The New York Times Best Seller list and won the National Library of China’s Wenjin Book Award for the best book published in 2014. It is a panoramic view of the human history from a surprising angle. While the history taught in schools mostly tells it as a chain of events, Harari tried to look at the species development as a product of several revolutions – cognitive, agrarian, industrial.
The second book reiterates a few of the first book’s points and I think these are the best parts. For example, did you know that in Babilon swathes of the country were owned by gods via temples? Concerning history, Harari is on familiar ground. However, his attempts to continue the imaginary line of Homo sapiens development into the future is much less successful. He overpromises and underdelivers in the second book. Continue reading
Reading this book is like having a conversation with an intelligent, wise*, interesting, very open person. A conversation, because some of the things the author says resonate despite our differences in age, upbringing, and nationality. For example, she describes how while falling asleep she imagines herself drifting on a raft at a dark sea. For me, it is a canoe and a large, Amazon-like river at night.
But the book of an octogenarian author, who became famous in her seventies about life and death is better than a conversation because a dialogue is fleeting like a rainbow, but the book remains – to be shared. The prose is beautiful as well as befits to a long time editor.
I wish my local library had more books by Diana Athill.