Posted by: Corri van de Stege | January 1, 2008

A Happy New Year

2007 has been an important year for me: I committed to a blog, I started to take my own writing seriously and have filled up notebooks with notes and beginnings of short stories, as well as having started that novel that has been lurking for years and I never found the time for.  Meanwhile a few other ideas have emerged and I am using a creative writing course to improve and learn.   I have also changed jobs and I hope it has been for the better.   Most of all, I greatly enjoyed this new circle of virtual friends met through the blog.
Many newspapers and also a fair number of blogs are giving their verdicts on the best books read in 2007 and I pondered this as well of course.   I discovered that I have read plenty, but not necessarily books published in 2007, but there are still some gems there. 

In the summer I discovered Caroline Smailes In Search of Adam, which completely threw me for its unique and fine writing.  She is breaking new grounds, with a quite different approach to the telling of a story, using the visual page to show us the feelings and thoughts of a young girl, growing up in an estate in the north of England.

I also discovered, through the blog world, Kate Sutherland’s book of short stories All in together girls.  It’s a lovely collection of insights into girls and young women, their dreams, their lives, and sometimes their ordinariness, unique to them.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’ Half of a Yellow Sun is another book that took my breath away for its sustained and excellent writing, it is such a great read.

A few others include Milan Kundera The Curtain and of course John Sutherland’s How to Read a Novel, which tells us how to read novels in the first place, but in a very entertaining way.

Others that I liked don’t qualify because they were published earlier before 2007.  Anyway, we don’t want too long a list.  What struck me however was that the majority on my list (three to two) are female writers and that quite pleases me somehow.  Bryan Appleyard in ‘Twilight of the Greats?’ an article in the Sunday Times Culture Magazine of 30 December, says that something happened in 2007, and that this has to do with the passing of unique greatness.  In art ‘old gods stumbled and fell.  New ones sprang up.  But they sprang up in their thousands.’  So that you may well wonder that ‘Even if greatness existed, how would we find it?  Do we want greatness, or would we simply prefer choice?’  This leads him to consider the novel and that even if women overwhelmingly buy and write novels, it seems that the so-called ‘great’ novel is dominated by men, John Updike, Roth and DeLillo and others such as Ian McEwan, Martin Amis and Salman Rusdie aspire to join this lot.  Well, this is changing now according to Appleyard and he now nominates two females, Marilynne Robinson and Shirley Hazzard as the two greatest living novelists. 

That then brings me to my aspirations for 2008 and what I aim to read.  I will definitely include Robinson and Hazzard on my list of ‘to read’.  Hazzard will have a new book published in 2008, and so will Caroline Smailes.  Another one on my list is Pierre Bayard’s How to talk about books you haven’t read, which has now been published as a Granta.
I have joined the Short Story Reading Challenge as well as the Russian Reader Challenge and this will provide a continuous source of inspiration.  In particular I want to focus more on short story writing as well as reading.  I have to keep that promise of the 51 stories alive!

So, a very happy new year, full of reading and writing to all. 



  1. I’m very happy to learn of your intentions which I encourage heartily.

    May 2008 be the consecrating year for your ambitions, seachanges. I’ll be on the alert.

    Best of everything.

  2. And a Happy New Year to you.
    Follow your heart and your dreams.
    Wishing you happiness.

  3. Jose – thank you. I very much appreciate your encouragement. x
    Caroline – I will – I will take you as an example of what is possible. x

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