The Literary Adaptation Book Tag

Since my two recent book reviews were of books that resulted in major films – Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and The Night of the Hunter – I have decided to have a go at this book tag about literary adaptations, slightly changing the original book tag seen at Milibroteca (a Spanish language book blog).

The English Patient Film PosterI. What is your favourite literary adaptation? 

Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient [1996] adapted from the novel of the same name [1992] by Michael Ondaatje.

The English Patient is far from being the most faithful adaptation, but Minghella (The Talented Mr Ripley [1999]) conveyed the spirit and atmosphere of the novel perfectly, and the film boasts great performances from Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliette Binoche. The score by Gabriel Yared (Betty Blue [1986]) is one of the most beautiful ever produced, too.

Virgin Suicides Film PosterII. What do you consider to be the best book-to-film adaptation?

Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides [1999] adapted from the novel of the same name [1993] by Jeffrey Eugenides. 

In my opinion, some of the best ever literary adaptations include Gone with the Wind [1939], Rosemary’s Baby [1968] and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone [2001], but there is still something very special about Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, so I choose that film. It is a beautiful, haunting adaptation which remains largely faithful to the source material. Coppola did an amazing job conveying the suburban claustrophobia and hidden despair and tension of the girls. Continue reading “The Literary Adaptation Book Tag”

Review: Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid

Moth Smoke Cover Moth Smoke [2000] – ★★★★1/2    

Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist [2007] is one of my favourite novels. Therefore, I had high expectations prior to reading Hamid’s debut book Moth Smoke [2000]. These expectations were met. In Moth Smoke, Darashikoh Shezad or Daru is a hash-smoking banker living in Lahore, Pakistan who rekindles his friendship with his childhood friend Ozi, who is now an influential and rich man living under the protection of his equally influential, but corrupt father. Daru also realises that he is attracted to Ozi’s wife Mumtaz, and, among his friends is also a shady character Murad Badshah, who sometimes acts as his drugs supplier. After Daru is fired from his job, his societal divide from influential and rich Ozi grows even further, and he finds himself on the dark path towards immorality and crime. Moth Smoke is a fascinating, eye-opening journey into Lahore’s criminal underbelly, which makes observations on the societal class divisions and east vs. west mentality conflicts. But, it is also so much more than that: it has an experimental structure and style (with at least four unreliable narrators); employs symbolism and fable-like story-telling; and becomes a book about the limits of morality, friendship and love, while also exploring the nature of guilt and the malleability of truth.  Continue reading “Review: Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid”

The Fall Book Tag

Shanah at Bionic Book Worm has created this autumn-themed book tag, and I just could not resist doing another tag. 

  • The PrestigeCRISP FALL AIR – A book that felt fresh and new: Christopher Priest’s The Prestige [1995]

This book is far from perfect, but the idea behind seems original and the structure new. Most people will know the plot from Nolan’s film The Prestige (2006), but it is still an exciting read, even if you have seen the film (the book is different in its beginning and in its end). The plot mirrors the stages of a magician’s trick, and Christopher Priest provides the reader will all the hints to solve the mystery in the very beginning. There are a couple of surprises in the book, even though the story is also slightly predictable and goes into the direction of pure fantasy, which may not please everyone. 

  • The BeguiledHOWLING WINDS – An ending that blew you away: Thomas P. Cullinan’s A Painted Devil/The Beguiled [1966]

I was impressed with Cullinan’s The Beguiled. It is so much more underneath than this simple tale of girls living in a boarding school during the Civil War and their interactions with a wounded soldier who comes to the school’s doorstep. The book is psychologically interesting because it contains multiple unreliable narrators who, throughout the novel, try to persuade the reader that their version of events is true. It is up to the reader to make his or her mind up in the end. The ending is well crafted and did surprise me. Also, the film by Sofia Coppola did not do justice to the book or its characters at all, even though it was spot on regarding the atmosphere.  Continue reading “The Fall Book Tag”