Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2009 Newsletter

Recommended Reading: Jim Crace

Jim Crace

The Ransom Center recently acquired the papers of British writer Jim Crace, which include manuscripts, notes, and outlines for his works, reviews, radio plays, art work, correspondence, and more. He shares his recommended reading.

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The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

(Leipzig, B. Tauchnitz, 1908)

An hilarious and subversive conspiracy novel, written when Chesterton was in his early thirties and before his impish love of paradox was ruined by piety. It has one of the most meltingly beautiful final lines in twentieth- century fiction.

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Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

(Harvest Books, 1978)

Marco Polo baffles the Kublai Khan with descriptions of places that he has not seen on his journey to the East. This is Calvino at his most perverse and enthralling, a masterpiece of undiluted imagination.

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The Quiet American by Graham Greene

(Viking Press, 1955)

An immensely prophetic and humane war novel which warned us all about the dangers of American entanglement in Vietnam years before it happened. This is a novel that could have saved lives if certain people had read it and taken note.

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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

(McDowell Obolensky, 1959)

A forgiving, tender, and charming reworking—or should that be setting straight—of the African experience of colonisation. A modern Nigerian classic. World class.

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Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee

(Penguin, 1999)

Just one of Coetzee's masterpiece novels, and my favourite. This bleak and poetic allegory expresses the landscape of loneliness and rebellion, complicity and conscience with subtle economy.

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Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson

(London: C. Kegan Paul, 1879)

Stevenson is the perfect walking companion, the least curmudgeonly of men. Of all the writers I have read he is the one of whom I am most personally fond. And Modestine, his donkey, is without doubt the sweetest beast in literature.

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