Events Editor Julia Tolda reads too many books due to her Comparative Literature major. She has had a migraine for the past year. These books are the reason but in a good way.

I don’t have a Goodreads account. À la Joan Didion, I prefer to write my thoughts in a little Moleskin notebook. Here are five of said thoughts, on the best novels I’ve read for class during the Fall 2021 semester. Enjoy!

  1. The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector

Read in: Introduction to Comparative Literature with Professor Sun

A Brazilian sculptress goes through a mystical crisis, a sort of passion, upon finding and killing a cockroach at home. With clear nods to Franz Kafka and the Gospels, Lispector discusses human existence in the most bizarre and refreshing way possible. Lispector’s use of language is masterful, crafting and destroying the world as we know it in the same breath.

  1. Hadriana in All My Dreams by René Depestre 

Read in: Francophone Fiction with Professor Glover

In the Haitian city of Jacmel, Hadriana Siloé’s dream wedding turns nightmare: the bride becomes a zombie! What follows is the stuff of legend. Through letters, diary entries, and news reports, Depestre writes one of the most original magical-realist novels I have ever read. Whilst drenched in eroticism and humor, the novel also manages to raise serious questions about race and sexuality.

  1. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Read in: The American Novel Since 1945 with Professor Vandenburg

After the American Civil War, a former enslaved woman and her family are haunted by the past in the form of a ghost. Gorgeous prose presents unimaginable pain, as Morrison writes about slavery and its impact on relationships and self-concept. Beloved stresses the double-nature of language, the need for community, and the horrors of slavery. 

  1. Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl 

Read in: Tragic Bodies with Professor Worman

Three communities in different eras rehearse the staging of the Easter Passion. In 16th century England, 1934 Germany, and 1969 South Dakota, common citizens take on the roles of Mary, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Pontius Pilate. But informed by their context, the amateur actors wrestle with art, politics, and their roles in society. Ruhl’s epic revolutionizes the concept of a passion play.

  1. The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald

Read in: Introduction to Comparative Literature with Professor Sun

An unnamed narrator pursues the biographies of four European men in exile. Although they are tied only by their emigrant status, he uses records of the past and motifs to draw parallels between them, in turn crafting his autobiography. Sebald creates vivid lives out of pictures and news excerpts, writing on the unbelievably tragic and beautiful nature of living life in transit. 

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