Woman cop and victims in Saudi
Short, sharp guidance and observations from a journalist with attitude. All books available from Exclusives
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS WEEK
'Kingdom of Strangers', by Zoë Ferraris (Little, Brown) R200
HAVING lived in Saudi Arabia, Ferraris is ably suited to convey its oppressive atmosphere in her gripping thrillers. More than provide an exotic backdrop, however, Ferraris makes the point that the roots of the crimes against women are in fact due to crimes of religion.
This is her third novel, and although it works as a standalone, a central character has emerged: Katya Hijazi, one of the kingdom's few female cops. Here, she hunts the killer of 19 women. She also helps a colleague whose mistress has vanished. It's a risky undertaking - the Saudis execute adulterers. An excellent blend of suspense and social commentary.
GABRIEL García Márquez's writing career has sadly been ended by senile dementia. The author's brother, Jaime, broke the news: "Dementia runs in our family and he's now suffering the ravages prematurely due to the cancer that put him almost on the verge of death [in 1999]. Chemotherapy saved his life, but it also destroyed many neurons, many defences and cells, and accelerated the process. But he still has the humour, joy and enthusiasm that he has always had."
Jaime had tried to keep his brother's condition a secret, but said he was compelled to speak because of the intense speculation over the writer's silence. He has not written a word since his 2004 novella, Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores.
According to The Guardian, Márquez's chaotic upbringing provided ample material for his complex work. His parents' courtship was opposed by his maternal grandfather, who objected to his father's conservatism. They were eventually allowed to marry and Márquez was born in Aracataca, which became the fictional village of Macondo in his novels.
In what could be seen as a case of life imitating art, his best known work, 1967's One Hundred Years of Solitude, which deals with the history of seven generations of the Buendía family in Macondo, begins with the tale of the family's inability to care for their senile grandfather.
SHE was, to put it mildly, rather short-tempered with impotent men. But, as a new biography reveals, Catherine, empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796, counted few such individuals among her many lovers. Robert K Massie's compelling Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (Head of Zeus) makes the point that, for all her lustiness, she did not attempt to have sex with a horse and, as legend had it, die in the process. Rather, she passed away after suffering a stroke on the commode.
THE BOTTOM LINE
"LOOK, buddy, it's not hard to be idyllic if you're sitting on your ass. We're here to win." - Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Bloomsbury)