Want to know what books Geoff Dyer recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Geoff Dyer's favorite book recommendations of all time.
Imperium begins with Ryszard Kapuscinski's account of the Soviet occupation of his town in eastern Poland in 1939. It culminates fifty years later, with a forty-thousand-mile journey that takes him from the haunted corridors of the Kremlin... more
Imperium begins with Ryszard Kapuscinski's account of the Soviet occupation of his town in eastern Poland in 1939. It culminates fifty years later, with a forty-thousand-mile journey that takes him from the haunted corridors of the Kremlin to the abandoned gulag of Kolyma, from a miners' strike in the arctic circle to a panic-stricken bus ride through the war-torn Caucasus.
Out of passivity and paranoia, ethnic hatred and religious fanaticism that have riven two generations of Eastern Europeans, Kapuscinski has composed a symphony for a collapsing empire—a work that translates history into the hopes and sufferings of the human beings condemned to live it. less
Geoff DyerI think he’s really great. We’re talking about authors’ humanity – the capacity for empathy, this kind of stuff. With Kapuściński it seems to me you get all that, but it’s combined with politics and reportage telling you what’s going on in different places. Now, of course there are question marks about Kapuściński – about the reconcilability or not of the obligation to tell the truth and report... (Source)
In House of... more
In House of Exile, Heinrich and Nelly’s story is crossed with others from their circle of friends, relatives, and contemporaries: Heinrich’s brother, Thomas Mann; his sister, Carla; their friends Bertolt Brecht, Alfred Döblin, and Joseph Roth; and, beyond them, the writers James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Virginia Woolf, among others. Evelyn Juers brings this generation of exiles to life with tremendous poignancy and imaginative power. In train compartments, ship cabins, and rented rooms, the Manns clung to what was left to them—their bodies, their minds, and their books—in a turbulent and self-destructive era. less
Geoff DyerThis book was a real revelation to me. As you say it is described as a collective biography – subtitled “War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles” – and I thought it was going to be what it says on the cover, a collective biography of these people. What I didn’t realise was it was going to be so novelistic. I just love the conceit of these German avant-garde composers all living quite... (Source)
The twenty people from whose journals and letters Englund draws are from Belgium, Denmark, and France; Great Britain, Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Italy, Australia, and New Zealand; Russia, Venezuela, and the United States. There is a young man in the... more
The twenty people from whose journals and letters Englund draws are from Belgium, Denmark, and France; Great Britain, Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Italy, Australia, and New Zealand; Russia, Venezuela, and the United States. There is a young man in the British army infantry who had been considering emigrating until the war offered him its “grand promise of change” and a middle-aged French civil servant, a socialist and writer whose “faith simply crumbled” at the outbreak of war. There is a twelve-year-old German girl thrilled with the news of the army’s victories because it means that she and her classmates are allowed to shout and scream at school. There is an American woman married to a Polish aristocrat, living a life of quiet luxury when the war begins but who will be moved, ultimately, to declare: Looking Death in the eyes, one loses the fear of Him. From field surgeon to nurse to fighter pilot, some are on the Western Front, others in the Balkans, East Africa, Mesopotamia. Two will die, one will never hear a shot fired; some will become prisoners of war, others will be celebrated as heroes. But despite their various war-time occupations and fates, genders and nationalities, they will be united by their involvement—witting or otherwise—in The Great, and terrible, War.
A brilliant mosaic of perspectives that moves between the home front and the front lines, The Beauty and the Sorrow reconstructs the feelings, impressions, experiences, and shifting spirits of these twenty particular people, allowing them to speak not only for themselves but also for all those who were in some way shaped by the war, but whose voices have been forgotten, rejected, or simply remained unheard. less
Geoff DyerThis is a very recent book – it came out towards the end of 2011. He has uncovered and found out about the lives of 20 different people from different parts of the world – some are combatants, one is a doctor, there’s this cast of characters – and he narrates the war chronologically through their experiences of particular days. This gives a real sense both of people being at the mercy of history... (Source)
West wrote on the brink of World War II, when she was "already convinced of the inevitability of the second Anglo-German war." The resulting book is colored by that impending conflict, and by West's search for universals amid the complex particulars of Balkan history. In the end, she saw the region's doom--and our own--in a double infatuation with sacrifice, the "black lamb and grey falcon" of her title. It's the story of Abraham and Isaac without the last-minute reprieve: those who hate are all too ready to martyr the innocent in order to procure their own advantage, and the innocent themselves are all too eager to be martyred. To West, in 1941, "the whole world is a vast Kossovo, an abominable blood-logged plain." Unfortunately, little has happened since then to prove her wrong. --Mary Parkless
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