“Mary Barton”, Elizabeth Gaskell
“Mary Barton” is known as one of Gaskell’s masterpieces (the other being “North and South”, also on my list), and it did not disappoint. Filled with plot twists and unexpected happenings, Gaskell’s novel follows a poor family living in Manchester in the 1800s, and exposes the relationships between the workers and the factory owners. The workers are slowly starving to death as they see the owners riding in carriages and eating as they please, and this sends them to do desperate actions, resulting in injury and even death for not only the owners, but the workers, too. Gaskell’s writing style is easy to read yet full of details, and offers a prosaic view of the life of the poor, as even Dickens couldn’t accomplish.
“The Thing Around Your Neck,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ngozi Adichie’s collection of short stories did not disappoint. As with her novel, “Americanah”, her prose draws the reader in and doesn’t let them go. Before you know it, you’ve read through the whole book in two days! At least if you’re me. Her stories offer a view into Nigerian daily life, and how that life intertwines with the United States, even when her characters never leave Nigeria. For a country we barely ever hear about in the news (as if the news is reliable in any way, shape, or form anyways), it may be surprising to some to see how intricately connected Nigeria and the US are. I strongly recommend her writing to anyone who wants to broaden their perspective about the world.