Thursday, the 14th of July, and I’m a day late on my Shelf Control post, but posting all the same! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. It appears every Wednesday. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!
Today’s post is about a relatively recent entrant on my shelves, acquired from the offerings on World Book Day earlier this year. I tried not to be greedy but did end up picking up three of the books offered which stood out to me for different reasons. Today’s pick is The Ardent Swarm (2017) by Tunisian author Yamen Manai and translated by Lara Vergnaud. Manai is a Tunisian born author who currently lives in Paris and explores interactions between past and present and tradition and technology in his writings. He has written several novels of which The Ardent Swarm or L’Amas ardent was the first to be translated into English.
The Ardent Swarm tells of Sidi, who lives a hermetic life, on the outskirts of a desolate north African village, and is a ‘bee whisperer’. One morning he wakes up to find his hives attacked and all their inhabitants destroyed, leaving him brokenhearted. Finding that a swarm of mysterious hornets is responsible, he sets out to find where they came from. But along the way, he passes through a country struggling with its new reality after the Arab Spring. The story explores what happens in a country shaken by a revolution, once the world stops watching. The book celebrates Tunisia’s rich oral culture, using wry, fatalistic humour.
I actually picked this book only having skimmed through the description, with its main attraction for me being that it is by a Tunisian author and incorporates some of its culture. I haven’t read anything set in or around Tunisia, and know very little about its culture, and I felt reading this book will give me a glimpse. Also I think it will be interesting to see the parallels between Sidi’s quest and the aftermath of the Arab Spring in the unnamed country (I assume there are some).
Have you read this book? How did you find it? Or anything else set in or related to Tunisia? Any recommendations? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!
Lisa’s pick yesterday was In Other Lands (2019) by Sarah Rees Brennan, a fantasy adventure in which a smart and obnoxious 13-year-old, who gets a chance to go to school in the Borderlands, a place with elves, harpies, mermaids, and of course very different kinds of school lessons with weaponry and fitness training.