Move over James Bond, Johnny English is back! In 2003, Rowan Atkinson portrayed the title character in Johnny English, giving us a slightly more sophisticated, but by no means sophisticated, rendition of Mr. Bean. Fifteen years later he’s back for his third outing as the bumbling spy, in Johnny English Strikes Again.
Quite by chance I recently ate a meal which included kimchi, a Korean dish consisting of fermented vegetables. Kimchi also made an appearance in the South Korean book I bought for my reading challenge, The Vegetarian by Han Kang. However, my dish also had pork in it, which would not have passed muster with the book’s title character, Yeong-hye.
Hopefully, Melissa McCarthy has started a trend of funny female-led spy films. In 2015 she starred in Spy, subverting the genre’s standards and stereotypes. Now The Spy Who Dumped Me has joined it as an action-comedy buddy film that places female characters at its centre.
This reading challenge is not about favourites. After all, the forms and styles of each book range greatly, from fiction to non-fiction, from magic realism to historical adventure, from short stories to novels. But it’s not a question of quality or style when it comes to my favourite, but rather of impact. And the book that’s had the greatest impact on me in this challenge so far, is Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives.
Every Christmas Eve’, my family would make pickled herring for what is meant to be the grandest meal of the year. Growing up, I had only a short list of things I wouldn’t eat, and herring was one of them. My argument was that herring is actually part of Norwegian cuisine, not German, and we should really be eating turkey. Clearly I’d watched one too many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
During varsity English, one of our set works was The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by the Irish authour James Joyce. Unlike so many other students (including those who – unlike me – were majoring in English) I actually read the book, and I’m glad I did.
Scraping the sky at a lofty 450+ metres, the Petronas Towers may no longer be the tallest buildings in the world, but they remain an impressive feature of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Some of the action in the book for the Malaysian leg of my reading challenge takes place here.
Chocolates, knives, and Carl Jung. These typically come to mind when I think of Switzerland. Another inevitable conjuring is Heidi, the girl of the Alps whose story I’ve known since I was a young girl. I used to watch the animated TV series, and the theme song inevitably pops into my head (and gets stuck there) when I think of her.
Although I’m not particularly fond of Maltese poodles, they are the first thing that come to mind when thinking about Malta. And there are many claims that they do originate from this Mediterranean nation. Other than that, I know next to nothing about it.
As with so many other countries, the most I know about Lebanon is its food. While living in Cape Town I went to a market in Somerset West and happened upon a stall loaded with Lebanese food. It had everything from falafels and kuftas to fatayers and pita bread.