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January 2017

Ghana and King Peggy

Imagine that, one night, you’re woken from a sound sleep by your phone ringing. You sleepily answer the phone, wanting to know what’s so important that they’re waking you up in the middle of the night. Then the person on the other end of the phone tells you congrats – you are now the king of a far off, distant land. And no, they’re not joking.

Sound like a fairy tale? Perhaps – but that’s exactly what happened to Peggielene Bartels one night after a long day of work as a UN secretary. Meet King Peggy!

After that jarring phone call, Peggy, an American citizen, flies to her old home in Ghana for her inauguration as the new King of Otuam, a small fishing village. Peggy had only ever visited relatives in Otuam, but was born and raised in the large city of Cape Coast, before immigrating to the United States. Peggy is determined to take her new role as King seriously – and won’t put up with any crap from the village elders.

I personally LOVE this book. Everything she does once she becomes king is basically what everyone says they would do if they were put in charge: stomp out corruption, stand up for the little guy, and work tirelessly to better the lives of everyone that depends on you. The world needs more Peggy Bartels. Otuam is a lucky, lucky village to be able to call her their King.

Canada and The Year of the Flood

The more distance I get from reading this book, the more real it seems. That’s frightening, guys.

From the US’s friendly neighbor up north, Canada and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood!

Set in the not-so-seemingly-distant future, this novel is set around a religious group known as God’s Gardeners. God’s Gardeners are like vegetarian hippies who don’t believe in mind-altering drugs, but they do believe in an unknown catastrophic event they call the Flood that will wipe out everyone on Earth – except for them, the believers, of course.

Which is a little weird, but they end up being kinda right.

The Flood arrives, and wipes out *almost* all life on Earth. A few people are accidentally left alive. The novel centers around two of these survivors: a woman named Ren, a one-time God’s Gardener now trapped in a sealed room in the sex club Scales and Tails; and Toby, a more hardcore¬†God’s Gardener now trapped in a fancy schmancy day spa.

Will they reunite?!

This book is kind of like YA dystopia on drugs. And it’s awesome. But don’t call it scifi, because the author does NOT like that. Please read this book, and the rest in the series MaddAddam, and share them with your friends and bloggers!

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What have you read from Canada? Or, alternatively, have you read any awesome dystopias (not necessarily scifi!) that you can’t wait to share?

Chile and The Private Lives of Trees

Chile! Possibly the thinnest country in the world. Due to that long, skinny shape, the country has an incredibly varied climate, going from super dry desert in the north to snow and lakes in the south. It is one of the most politically stable countries in South America.

My book for Chile is The private lives of trees by Alejandra Zambra, translated by Megan McDowell.

In this very short novel (98 pages!), we meet a young literature professor named Julian, who is telling his stepdaughter a bedtime story while they wait for his wife, her mother, to return home. The story he tells her is about the private lives of trees (hence the title).

As the night goes on, Julian becomes more and more nervous, as his wife is much later than usual, and he fears that something terrible has happened to her – perhaps a car accident? A robbery? Is she stranded on the highway somewhere? Has she run away and left him with her daughter to raise on his own?

I thought this was an interesting analysis of the insecurities that many people have regarding their relationships. What have you read from Chile?

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