Sin and Redemption: Five Favorite Books by Author Gint Aras

“Five Favorites” is a new feature at the LA Books Examiner in which our favorite authors share and discuss their five favorite books within a category. Up first is Gint Aras, author of Finding the Moon in Sugar

 
Sin and Redemption: Five Favorite Books by Gint Aras
 
1) The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880)
This is the greatest novel ever written, loaded up so densely that it could be someone’s favorite novel about anything: family, law, murder, sex, identity, marriage, social class, politics, etc. I love it because of its diamond-sharp intelligence, feverish pitch and the strands of hysteria Dostoevsky is able to braid, apparently without effort, into a tight whip. He tells a tale of moral decay, a spot-on premonition of the post-19th century chaos we find ourselves dealing with at the moment.  
The love triangle between a father, son and a disgraced woman makes The Brothers Karamazov part soap-opera, and the unsentimental depictions of poverty, cruelty, stupidity, faith (unflinching in the face of so much despair), greed and lust boil the drama so that readers feel they might not survive the book.  
Dostoevsky is history’s greatest novelist. His vision cuts straight through Russia’s social-classes, and his talent is an ability to disappear from his characters’ conversations about politics, philosophy and theology while somehow demonstrating serious flaws in any host of self-serving political positions. The sins here are almost exhaustive, some of them heinous (the rape of a homeless woman, for example), others ironic (one brother’s obsession over a woman drives him to self-destruction). Some characters are punished for sins they did not commit while their true ones go undiscovered. The redemption is also complex. It includes the idea that we are all redeemed, at least symbolically, by the presence of a few innocents within a sea of criminals and assholes. If you think, however, that The Brothers K is nothing more than a Christian parable, think again. The book has turned Christians to atheists and demons to sacrificial lambs. 
 
2) Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
Do you know people who believe there are no unforgivable sins? Lolita can help you figure out if they’re hypocrites. Humbert Humbert is a charming, seductive and brilliant pedophile, one who manages to rationalize his statutory rape of Dolores Haze. At first he presents spiritual reasons, even claiming that Fate is on his side; eventually his narrative presents the idea that not all pedophiles are created equal. People do not think about Lolita as a novel about a murder, but it is exactly that, the killing motivated by jealousy, revenge and a bit of self-hatred. Not merely a story, the novel is also a faux prison memoir and confession.

Humbert is a genius poet, one who concocts all sorts of lies, some of them apparent to the reader, but others not so much. The language of this novel is that of a master stylist, one whose lyrical prose floods the book with allusions to more works than most people will ever have the time to read. Also extraordinary is the way the book folds in on itself, forcing the reader to go back to the beginning to pinpoint what happens at the end. It adds up to a tragedy of ruined youth in a novel that invites–even convinces–readers to identify with a pedophile.  

Read the rest of Gint Aras’ 5 Favorites at LA Books Examiner.
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