Contemporary Literature Archives | Books on the Wall

Category: Contemporary Literature Archives

Books on the Wall blog posts covering contemporary literature, contemporary authors, and everything in between.

From Confucius to the Communists: Five of the Best Chinese Writers

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No other civilization in the world has endured as long as the Chinese. Despite wars, famines, revolutions, and imperialism, the Chinese have been able to retain their language and cultural heritage for some 5,000 years. With China’s rapid economic development in the 21st century, it’s clear that this nation will be a major player in global politics for the years to come. And one of the best ways for outsiders to dip into the mind of the Middle Kingdom is to take a look at the nation’s best writers. Of course, it’d take a few pretty thick books just to […]

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The King of the Jazz Age: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Life and Times

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F. Scott Fitzgerald blog feature image

Just like Mark Twain before him, F. Scott Fitzgerald both literally and symbolically defined an age in American history. While Twain coined “The Gilded Age” to describe late 19th-century America, Fitzgerald popularized “The Jazz Age” for the 1920s. Although Fitzgerald’s name is inextricably linked to that era of bootleggers, speakeasies, and flappers, his fiction is so much more than a historical relic. The lyricism of Fitzgerald’s prose and the profound themes his works explore have earned him a spot alongside greats like Henry James, Faulkner, and Hemingway. To get a better understanding of the man behind the greatest “Jazz Age” […]

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Five of the Best French Authors

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Five of the Best French Authors blog post feature image

From the Medieval poem La Chanson de Roland to the modern day author Michel Houellebecq, French authors have produced some of the most daring and influential works of European literature. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Indeed, France still holds the world record for the most Nobel Prizes for Literature. Not only does France produce great artistic minds, it attracts them too. As you probably know already, many of America’s finest authors “found their voice” in a Parisian café (e.g. Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Ezra Pound). In this list, we’ll take a look at five of France’s greatest writers. All […]

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Words Wednesday: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Carlos Ruiz Zafón quote, The Shadow of the Wind

This Carlos Ruiz Zafón quote comes from his 2001 novel The Shadow of the Wind. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Originally written in Spanish, The Shadow of the Wind was translated into English by Lucia Graves in 2004. It has since been translated into more than 40 languages around the world. The novel is set in Barcelona in 1945, during the Spanish Civil War, and follows the life of a young boy named Daniel. The son of a book dealer, Daniel is taken to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where he chooses a mysterious book […]

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Words Wednesday: Viet Thanh Nguyen

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Viet Thanh Nguyen quote from The Sympathizer

For today’s Words Wednesday, we’re featuring a recent Viet Thanh Nguyen quote from his 2016 novel, The Sympathizer. The Sympathizer (2015) by Viet Thanh Nguyen Published in 2015, The Sympathizer is the debut novel of Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Vietnamese American professor of literature. The novel follows the story of an unnamed narrator who works as a North Vietnamese mole in the South Vietnamese army. After the fall of Saigon, the narrator is moved to Los Angeles, where he continues his spying work in the city’s close-knit Vietnamese community. Often called “a man of two minds,” the narrator struggles with this […]

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Words Wednesday: Hilary Mantel

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Hilary Mantel Quote, Wolf Hall

Today’s featured snippet is a Hilary Mantel quote from her 2009 novel Wolf Hall. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel Set in early 1500s England, Wolf Hall is a historical novel that follows the rise of Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn (whose rises, story lines, and real lives are impossible to untangle from one another) during the reign of King Henry VIII. Still famous today for his many wives and ordered decapitations, King Henry—and all of the other characters—are wonderfully humanized by Mantel in this novel. Although King Henry and his court feature prominently in this work, the focus remains on Thomas Cromwell. […]

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Words Wednesday: Margaret Atwood

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These quote from The Handmaid’s Tale is one of our all-time favorites, though there are many to choose from in this interesting novel. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian Boston, in which a theological dictatorship has taken hold. This new nation, called the Republic of Gilead, has forced young women into sexual and intellectual subjugation. Reading has been outlawed, women are forced to procreate with high-ranking party members, and Old Testament-inspired punishments are doled out in public to maintain order. The Handmaid’s Tale won several literary awards, including the Governor […]

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Words Wednesday: NoViolet Bulawayo

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NoViolet Bulawayo quote, We Need New Names

This NoViolet Bulawayo quote comes from her 2013 debut novel, We Need New Names. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names is in many ways a typical coming-of-age story, following young Darling as she leaves her home country of Zimbabwe for the Midwestern United States. It’s also in many ways a typical immigrant’s tale, if such a genre can even be named given the diverse experiences that immigrants to the United States have. Although the story follows hardship after hardship, both in Darling’s home country and her adopted home of Detroit, the story is never lifeless […]

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Words Wednesday: Min Jin Lee

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Min Jin Lee quote, Pachinko

This Min Jin Lee quote comes from her just-released novel Pachinko (2017). Pachinko by Min Jin Lee Published in February 2017, Pachinko follows the lives of several generations of a Korean family over the twentieth century. The story begins with Sunja, a young woman living in a small fishing island off Busan, Korea, in the early 1900s. After getting pregnant, Sunja leaves her small town for Japan with a kindly minister who marries her to save her family from shame. The story begins when Korea is still under Japanese colonial rule and extends all the way to the late 1980s. […]

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Words Wednesday: Aravind Adiga

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Aravind Adiga quote, The White Tiger

This Aravinda Adiga quote comes from his Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The White Tiger. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga Published in 2008, The White Tiger was the debut novel by Aravind Adiga. The story is told from the first-person perspective of Balram Halwai, a poor man from a rural village in India. Balram makes his way to Dhanbad and eventually New Delhi by working as a driver for a rich family involved in the dirty coal business. Slight spoiler alert: Balram kills his employer, steals his money, and becomes successful (while hiding) in the entrepreneurial hubbub of Bangalore. The novel […]

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