Swing Time, Simon Stålenhag and Scandal are on our Lists this week

The Reading List

Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood: I am obsessed with historical fiction, but not in the sense that we understand it as a fictional story set in the past but rather as an altering of actual events in the past. Dystopian yet nostalgic, Stålenhag’s work is about questioning what the things we imagine will happen in the future would look like if they happened in the past. The books, which are set in his native Sweden, see abandoned robots and future technology enveloped into Eighties Scandinavian suburbia where he portrays the relationships humans have with physical space. His work is a reminder that location is not only how we know where we are geographically but also a central part of memory and identity creation. (SM)

Zadie Smith, Swing Time: In Smith’s fifth major work of fiction, the author takes the reader into the adolescent mind of her unnamed biracial protagonist, who narrates her existence with humour and an elastic understanding of her less than perfect working-class world: a dissatisfied and ambitious mother who looks like Nefertiti, a father who haplessly chases his wife’s tail and her slightly corrupt best friend Tracey, who is a much better dancer than our protagonist. I’m 70 pages in and although there’s no real solid bone of a story to chew on, being inside a world that revolves around Fred Astaire’s footwork is enjoyable. (MB)

The Play List

Esperanza Spalding, Emily’s D+Evolution: Among jazz musicians Esperanza Spalding stands alone, broody and reclusive yet contemporary in both her process as well as her visual aesthetic. After the pop experimentation of Radio Music Society, Emily’s D+Evolution is a welcome return home to her jazz and funk roots. The only twist this time is that she no longer flirts with her psychedelic side but instead fully embraces it. On the album Spalding moves away from the tendency she had as a younger musician of playing for too long. She rations her musical range as songwriter, bassist and singer across 12 short-form songs that end just as you are longing for more. (SM)

Scandal, Season 6: Episode one of Season 6 started last week and, like the fish out of water I have been since Season 5 ended, I jumped right back into the world of constant winter, unnecessarily fast walking and talking and peering into the inner workings of an institution Americans today will likely think twice about proudly referring to as the leader of the free world. (MB)

Compiled by Friday editor Milisuthando Bongela and Friday contributor Sihle Mthembu 

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