“Nice comes to us by way of the Old French nice (‘weak, clumsy, silly’), from the Latin nescius (‘ignorant, not knowing’).”
R F Kuang
This is an ambitious book, and it delivered. Between crafting lovable characters and delivering on a story, the author also found time to dig at slavery, inequality and the British empire. There were also debates on the philosophy of translation, lovely snippets on the etymology of various words, and careful dips into the thorny issue of racism.
A 5-star book, and I finished it, wanting to buy a copy for everyone I know who reads.
“And the influences on English were so much deeper and more diverse than they thought. Chit came from the Marathi chitti, meaning letter or note. Coffee had made its way into English by way of Dutch (koffie), Turkish (kahveh), and originally Arabic (qahwah). Tabby cats were named after a striped silk that was in turn named for its place of origin: a quarter of Baghdad named al-Attabiyya.”
“I want to live,’ she repeated, ‘and live, and thrive, and survive them. I want a future. I don’t think death is a reprieve. I think it’s – it’s just the end. It forecloses everything – a future where I might be happy, and free. And it’s not about being brave. It’s about wanting another chance. Even if all I did was run away, even if I never lifted a finger to help anyone else as long as I lived – at least I would get to be happy. At least the world might be all right, just for a day, just for me. Is that selfish?”