Journeys: What is Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt Reading?
I’m a picky reader. I read as much for character as for plot. I have a passion for narrative, but I read only literary novels and non-fiction. I love a finely crafted phrase where every word has earned its place. Geraldine Brooks gives me all these things.
This fall, I’m reading People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks for the second time. The book begins in Sarajevo in the 1990s during the Bosnian war and moves backwards in time, chronicling the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript—a Jewish haggadah—through centuries of exile and war. It’s a work of fiction inspired by the true story of the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah.
At a time when all my travel plans are cancelled until at least next summer, People of the Book promises to take me to Vienna, Venice, Tarragona, Sevilla and Jerusalem. A wonderful, often exotic trip.
I’ve also been enjoying Sujata Massey’s The Widows of Malabar Hill, a 1920s mystery set in Bombay, a city that fascinates me.
Next in line on my bedside table is A Burning, by Megha Majumdar. Sue Monk Kidd wrote a fabulous review of Majumdar’s first novel in the latest issue of Poets and Writers. I immediately raced out and bought it.
And lastly, for my devotional reading, I’m in the final quarter of Thomas Merton’s seminal The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith. It’s a wonderful, luminous book; an interior journey.
Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt has been published in Best Canadian Essays 2019 and 2015, Grain, EVENT, Prairie Fire, Malahat Review, Antigonish Review, and Room. She holds an MA from McGill and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC.