City of Clowns

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books with Geographical Terms in the Title

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This is one of those themes that I thought would be pretty easy but when I actually took a look at the books on my TBR or the ones I’ve already read I found it was a bit more difficult than I thought. I do have ten books with ten different geographical terms in their titles though. I’ve also included the definition for each term (as they appear on the glossary of geographical terms Wikipedia page) as while some are obvious, some aren’t so common terms. I’ve read all these books and have linked to my review if there is one.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Mountain – A large landform that rises prominently above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a rocky peak with great vertical relief; a mountain is generally considered steeper than a hill.

Red Seas, Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Sea – Any large body of salt water surrounded in whole or in part by land/any large subdivision of the World Ocean.

City of Clowns by Daniel Alarcón and Sheila Alvarado
City – A large human settlement, generally with extensive systems constructed for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, and communication.

The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
Desert – An arid, barren area of land where little precipitation occurs and living conditions are consequently unfavorable for most plant and animal life.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Lagoon – A small area of water connected to the ocean but otherwise blockaded by one or more islands.

Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune – A hill of loose sand built by the movements and erosional and depositional processes of wind or water, often occurring in deserts and coastal areas.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Forest – Any extensive area dominated by communities of trees.

Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiūtė
Tundra – A treeless plain characteristic of the Arctic and subarctic regions.

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell
Drift – the name for all material of glacial origin found anywhere on land or at sea, including sediment and large rocks.

The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad under Stalin by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov
Steppe – An ecoregion characterized by expansive grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes,

Have you read any of these? What are the geographical terms you found most common? I’ve definitely read more books with “city” in the title than any other.

READ THE WORLD – Peru: City of Clowns by Daniel Alarcón and Sheila Alvarado

Oscar “Chino” Uribe is a young Peruvian journalist and after the death of his philandering father, he must confront the idea of his father’s other family. While deals with his grief Chico’s latest assignment is to chronicle the life of the street clowns who populate the vibrant and violent city streets of Lima and while doing so he becomes drawn into their haunting yet fantastical world.

City of Clowns was originally a short story by Alarcón and the he and Alvarado collaborated to turn it into a short graphic novel with striking black and white illustrations. How the illustrations and the text is set out on the pages, with it not being afraid to leave a lot of negative space, really puts across how Chico is feeling. There’s black pages and isolated figures when it comes to Chico, but with the clowns it’s often a mixture of lively figures with melancholy faces.

After his father dies he and his mother are suddenly introduced to his father’s mistress Carmela and their sons, Chico’s half-brothers. His mother takes everything in her stride and the relationship she appears to form with Carmela is incomprehensible to Chico, further isolating him as he refuses to acknowledge his emotions.

City of Clowns is a interesting look at grief, emotions and identity. As Chico learns more about the clowns, he admires the way they are hiding behind a mask, that people pay them little attention and they can be whoever they want to be when they perform.

City of Clowns is a quick read but a memorable one. The writing is simple yet eloquent while the illustrations convey so much emotion. 4/5.