Book Review: 1Q84: Book One

1Q84: Book One by Haruki Murakami (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 1184 pp) Born in 1949 in Japan, Haruki Murakami studied drama at Waseda University. He began writing fiction at the age of 29, inspired to write a novel while watching a baseball game. Murakami earned literary fame with his best-selling novel, Norwegian Wood. In the wake of its success, he earned writing fellowships at Princeton University and Tufts University. Murakami has won the Franz Kafka Prize, the Kiriyama Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, the Jerusalem Prize, and the International Catalunya Prize. Quizzical  Do you remember the last time you didn’t know that answer to a question? Did it bother you, your state of unknowing? I’m a big fan of… Read More →

Book Review: The Law of Love and the Law of Violence

The Law of Love and the Law of Violence by Leo Tolstoy; translated by Mary Koutouzov Tolstoy (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2010; originally published in 1948. 128 pp) Leo Tolstoy is a late nineteenth century Russian novelist known best for War and Peace and Anna Karenina. In his youth, Tolstoy studied law at Kazan University. Tolstoy gained massive wealth from his fictional writing, and as a result, developed into a social reformer and Christian anarchist in his later years. Tolstoy died in 1910. Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” represents the most influential document from my undergraduate years. Read in conjunction with an ethics class, King’s words resonated in ways I had previously never felt…. Read More →

Film Review: Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre directed by Cary Fukunaga (Scion Films, Canana Films, and Creando Films, R, 96 min) Starring Paulina Gaitan, Edgar Flores, and Kristian Ferrer. 35,000 Feet between Cultures An airplane flies overhead as the characters look up in awe, dreaming of the day that they too can board a passenger plane. This scene is a brief but defining moment in Sin Nombre. It expresses the distance between the life of the viewer and the life depicted on screen. Shot in Mexico and with dialogue in Spanish, Sin Nombre depicts the intertwining lives of two characters, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) and Willy “El Casper” (Edgar Flores), as they escape the poverty and gang culture of Honduras. Strikingly Different People, Strikingly Similar Pursuits… Read More →

Film Review: Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds directed by Quentin Tarantino (Universal Pictures, Weinstein Company, A Band Apart, R, 153 minutes) Starring Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent, and Christoph Waltz. Dual Duels Set in France during World War II, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds tells the story of two separately planned attempts to assassinate the leaders of the Nazi party. In one storyline, Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) – nicknamed “The Jew Hunter” for his ability to locate Jews in hiding – interrogates a dairy farmer learning that he is harboring a Jewish family under the floorboards. While Landa’s men shoot through the floor, teenage daughter Shosanna Dreyfus escapes the carnage. Three years later, Shosanna hides in plain sight as a cinema owner… Read More →

Book Review: Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall: A Novel by Hilary Mantel (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2009. 604 pp) Born in 1952, Hilary Mantel is a novelist, short story writer, and critic. Mantel began studying at the London School of Economics before transferring to the University of Sheffield where she graduated with a degree in jurisprudence. While employed as a social worker after her studies, Mantel began writing. After a decade of travel with her husband, Mantel published her first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, in 1985. On the heels of her first novel, Mantel found employment as a film critic for The Spectator. Over the course of her writing career, Mantel has won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize for Fludd, the… Read More →