An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine is a wonderful book of a life of reading. I think this quote from page 147 says it all: “Most of the books published these days consist of a series of whines followed by an epiphany. I call these memoirs and confessional novels happy tragedies. I find them sentimental and boring. They are the modern version of The Lives of the Saints with exemplary tales of suffering preceding redemption, only less interesting …”. That is certainly NOT the sort of book Alameddine has written.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan is a remarkable book of a hard life in Tasmania and the difficulties of relationships particularly with family. Tragedy mars these relationships and makes them even more volatile.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is not so much a war story or a prisoner of war story but a story of ethics. It is a story of the choices you make and the consequences of your choices on your life. I really liked the protagonist and felt empathy for him; although he did not always make the right choices but he was ethical and principled. Any prisoner of war story is bound to be bloody and gory. I think the detail added to the ethics of the prisoners and their guards (ethics are cultural).