Compulsive Reader

Compulsive Reader News
Volume 21, Issue 8, 1 Aug 2019



New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Competition News
Sponsored By
Coming soon


Hello readers.  Following is the latest batch of reviews on site:

A review of The Accusation by Wendy James

To say that the book is engaging is a gross understatement. The Accusation is the kind of story that you miss meals to finish, sneak read, and stay up late to keep going. It’s ultra-fast paced, and the speed of the plot belies just how good James’ writing is. James is a master of suspense, providing all sorts of subtle hints and details with legalistic precision. Read more:

An interview with Robert Erlandson

Robert Erlandson is professor emeritus of Engineering who has authored and edited a variety of technical papers, reports and books. He has maintained a journal of poetry and painted for over fifty years. Currently, he draws, paints, creates digital images and writes for the joy of expression. He joins us to talk about his latest book, Awe, a chapbook of images and poetry. Read more:

A review of Ebullience & Other Poems by Bhupender K Bhardwaj

If you are looking for a farrago of old-school romanticism, Neoplatonism, Whitmanian excess, and Hindu plenitude, you have come to the right place. There just aren’t enough descriptors in the lexicon to do justice to Bhupender Bhardwaj’s Ebullience & Other Poems. Read more:

A review White Horses by Linda Blaskey

Horses also showcases Blaskey’s eye and ear for nature poetry. The collection bounces back and forth across the country to the Ozarks to the midwest to the Delaware coast. But Blaskey is most at home in rural settings where “a combine sits idle in a half-harvested soybean field” or where “ grasshoppers stirred up from weeds leap onto your legs and arms.” Read more:

Stranger, Friend, Artist, and Literary Legacy: James Baldwin and His Interpreters

I, as a reader and writer, as well as a citizen interested in social progress, was impressed, almost always, by Baldwin’s determination to bring eloquence, compassion, and wisdom to the hostilities and hopes he perceived, beyond the controversies of lasting conflicts—but I noted, as did others, that, with time’s passage, his disappointments inspired him to a brutal bluntness that could be read as bitterness.  Read more:

An interview with Julie Keys

Julie Keys lives in the Illawarra region on the NSW south coast. Her short stories have been published across a range of Australian journals. Julie has worked as a tutor, a registered nurse, a youth worker and as a clinical trials coordinator. She is now studying a PhD in creative arts at the University of Wollongong and writing full-time. Her debut novel, The Artist’s Portrait, was shortlisted for The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers in 2017. Read more:

A review of Stopgap Grace by Neil McCarthy

The poems are dense, lusty in the old sense of the word—in their intentness on the uniqueness of each contemplated experience. McCarthy’s metaphors are fresh and lovely; line-by-line, the writing is often astonishingly beautiful. Read more:

A review of We Will Tell You Otherwise by Beth Mayer

All the story titles involve some form of the verb, “to tell”, because the collection as a whole is about the things people tell themselves and others. Some characters tell themselves the truth and live authentically; others do not. In “But I Will Tell You Otherwise,” Janie and Cha Cha defy social mores and pressures and think for themselves. Read more:

An interview with T. I. Lowe

Tonya “T.I.” Lowe is a native of coastal South Carolina. She attended Coastal Carolina University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in Psychology but excelled in Creative Writing. In 2014, Tonya independently published her first novel, Lulu’s Café, which quickly became a bestseller. Now the author of 12 published novels with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, she knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. She resides near Myrtle Beach with her family and is here to talk about her new book and lots more. Read more:

A review of What Stella Sees by Sarah Kornfeld

Sarah Kornfeld’s writing is frequently surprising and audacious, with passages of sustained concentration. She is unafraid to report how people feel when they do not know it themselves; occasionally, she hints at a future with which they cannot possibly be acquainted. This is all excellent stuff, unabashed to ‘digress’ or to break rules that are there to be broken. Read more:

All of the reviews listed above available at The Compulsive Reader on the front page. Older reviews are kept indefinitely in our extensive (and growing) categorized archives (currently at 2,487), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, The shortlist for the A$60,000 (about US$42,065) 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award, awarded to “a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases,” consists of: The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad, A Sand Archive by Gregory Day, A Stolen Season by Rodney Hall, The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones, Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko, and Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills. Speaking on behalf of the judges panel, author and literary critic Dr. Bernadette Brennan said that the shortlist “showcases a diverse and exciting range of Australian voices and experiences. Each writer has been unafraid to take risks in their narrative, in one or more of structure, subject matter or style. These books celebrate, for the most part, some of the complex, disparate and urgent aspects of contemporary Australian life.”

Lesley Nneka Arimah of Nigeria won the £10,000 (about $12,470) Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “Skinned,” published in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (#53). Chair of judges Peter Kimani described the winning work as “a unique retake of women’s struggle for inclusion in a society regulated by rituals. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s ‘Skinned’ defamiliarizes the familiar to topple social hierarchies, challenge traditions and envision new possibilities for women of the world. Using a sprightly diction, she invents a dystopian universe inhabited by unforgettable characters where friendship is tested, innocence is lost, and readers gain a new understanding of life.”

Cypriot writer Constantia Soteriou won the £5,000 (about $6,280) Commonwealth Writers’ Short Story Prize, recognizing the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English–including entries translated into English–from the Commonwealth. The winning story, “Death Customs,” was translated from Greek into English by Lina Protopapa, a translator and cultural critic based in Cyprus. It is the first translated work to win the award.

The longlist has been announced for the £50,000 (about $62,180) Booker Prize, which is supported by the charitable foundation Crankstart. A six-book shortlist will be revealed September 3, and the winner named October 14. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 (about $3,110) and a specially bound edition of their book. This year’s longlisted titles are: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Canada), Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (Ireland), My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (U.K./Nigeria), Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (U.S./U.K.)           , Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (U.K.), The Wall by John Lanchester (U.K.), The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy (U.K.), Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), Lanny by Max Porter (U.K), Quichotte by Salman Rushdie (U.K./India), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak (U.K./Turkey), Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson (U.K.). Chair of the 2019 judges Peter Florence commented: “If you only read one book this year, make a leap. Read all 13 of these. There are Nobel candidates and debutants on this list. There are no favorites; they are all credible winners.

Author N. Scott Momaday, “who for more than half a century has illuminated both the ancient and contemporary lives of Native Americans through fiction, essays, and poetry,” is this year’s recipient of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes authors for their complete body of work. Momaday will be presented with the award November 3 during the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Gala.

World Literature Today announced the finalists for the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which recognizes significant contributions to world literature and has a history as a lead-up to the Nobel Prize in Literature. The winner will be announced on October 16 during the Neustadt Lit Fest at the University of Oklahoma. This year’s finalists are: Emmanuel Carrère (France), Jorie Graham (U.S.), Jessica Hagedorn (Philippines/U.S.), Eduardo Halfón (Guatemala), Ismail Kadare (Albania), Sahar Khalifeh (Palestine), Abdellatif Laâbi (Morocco), Lee Maracle (Canada), and Hoa Nguyen (Vietnam/U.S.).  The Neustadt Lit Fest will also honor Margarita Engle, laureate of the 2019 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature.

Finally, Melissa Lucashenko has won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for Too Much Lip — praised by the judges as “a novel of celebratory defiance”. The Brisbane-based writer accepted the award at a ceremony in Sydney this week, cementing a string of acclaim for the book that includes being shortlisted for the Stella Prize, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Australian Book Industry Awards.This year’s Miles Franklin shortlist featured two-time Miles Franklin award-winner Rodney Hall and three-time shortlisted author Gail Jones, as well as first-time nominees Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Gregory Day and Jennifer Mills. Lucashenko is the third Indigenous Australian writer to win the $60,000 Miles Franklin, following Kim Scott (who shared the prize in 2000 for Benang, and won again in 2011 with That Deadman Dance) and Alexis Wright (who won the award in 2007, for Carpentaria).

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Susan Benedict, who won a swag box containing Ania’s Balance of the 12 plus lots of other lovely booty including a necklace, satin pouch and more.

Congratulations also to Sarah Myles who won a copy of Trails in the Dust by Joy Dettman.

Finally, congratulations to Carol Bartley Brown, who won a copy of Spinster Kang by Zoe S Roy.

Our new giveaway is for a copy of The Art of Regret by Mary Fleming (find out more about the book and author here: To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “Regret” and your postal address.

We also have a copy of The Fourth Beginningby Paul Georgiou (find out more about the book here:  To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “Fourth Beginning” and your postal address.

Good luck, everyone!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of Television: A Biography by David Thomson, Empirical by Lisa Gorton, Spinster Kang by Zoe S Roy, Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts, an interview with poet Theresa Rodriguez, and lots more reviews, interviews and of course our popular book giveaways.

Don’t forget to drop by The Compulsive Reader talks (see widget on right hand side of the site) or at to listen to our latest interview with Duneden poet Eliana Gray, who reads from and talks about her poetry book Eager to Break.  To listen, visit the show page or you can listen directly from the site widget (right hand side of the site).

You can also subscribe to the show via iTunes and get updates automatically, straight to your favourite listening device (in my case, that’s the phone – as I usually listen to podcasts in the car). Find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader. Then just click subscribe. The online interview archive has become quite extensive and contains interviews with lots of amazing authors including, just by way of a sample, Ben Okri, Jane Caro, Vivian Gornick, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Brian Castro, Jane Smiley, and the list goes on.  I never tire of listening to authors read from and talk about their work and these little conversations (~30 mins) are almost without fail, convivial, insightful, rich and of course fun. There is always lots of laughter. Please feel free to drop by and have a browse – it’s a great way to procrastinate and get inspired at the same time!


(c) 2019 Magdalena Ball. Nothing in this newsletter may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher, however reprint rights are readily available. Please feel free to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser

unsubscribe from this list