Compulsive Reader

Compulsive Reader News
Volume 21, Issue 11, 1 Nov 2019



New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
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Hello readers.  Following is the latest batch of reviews on site:

A review of Love is a Rebellious Bird by Elayne Klasson

Why do we chose those who don’t love us back with the same intensity? Why can we not love those who are best for us? These are the central questions of Love is a Rebellious Bird. The author drops a few hints as to why Judith persists in this unequal love. Read more:

An interview with C.B. Anderson

The author of Roots in the Sky, Boots on the Ground: Metaphysical Poems talks about her new book and its origins, on writing metaphysical poetry and its subjects and lots more. Read more:

A review of Votes, Love and War By Ruth Latta

Although primarily a work of fiction, Votes, Love and War is grounded in actual historical events and personalities. For example, Frances Beynon and Lilian Thomas (née Beynon) were prominent writers and suffragists in Winnipeg in the prewar and war years, speaking at public events, founding organizations such as the Political Equality League, and publicizing such injustices as the exploitation of women at work in the factory and on the farm. Read more:

Gladwell pulls punches with the shocking Talking to Strangers

He reveals information that will fundamentally change one’s perception about talking to strangers, and one might swear off speaking with strangers ever again. This seems like an exaggerated claim, but it isn’t because the book’s facts are that unnerving, and Gladwell’s technique, casually dropping factual bombshells as if he hasn’t really noticed the ramifications, supplies the book with a constant source of understated humor. Read more:

Interview with Tantra Bensko

The author of Floating on Secrets talks about her new book, about growing up in Indiana, her inspirations and influences, the book she’s reading now, her new work in progress, advice on writing, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Halcyon Days by Susan Taylor Meehan

Meehan includes details that capture the atmosphere of Depression-era Saskatchewan: homemakers’ clubs and farm organizations; bank foreclosures and farm auctions; indebtedness to the general store; relief shipments from Eastern Canada, and lack of books in the schools. Read more:

Interview with C.R. Richards

In this interview with give-away, author C R Richards drops by to talk about her new book Creed of the Guardian, her characters, some of her writing secrets, her feelings about language, her favourite Halloween books and movies, and more. Also you can win a big swag pack, so read to the end! Read more:

A review of all these urban fields by Loisa Fenichell

Loisa Fenichell’s debut collection, all these urban fields, invites the reader to enter a river of memory, consciousness and association as her poems explore fierce and beautiful tributaries, intricate bodies of language filled with well-turned associative lines of poetry. Read more:

A review of The Wolf Hour by Sarah Myles

Myles builds the story in alternating chapters that explore the parents growing awareness of their adult childrens’ activities, as well as Stephen’s perspective – one that highlights the privileged upbringing that Tessa and Stephen had, but also opens a range of questions about the interconnectedness of the events that unfold. Read more:

A review of Union Square by Adrian Koesters

This book is reminiscent of the style of the film noir with sordid storylines, tragic antiheroes, and cynical characters but without the crime and murder element yet coloured by violence and abuse. This makes Union Square a fascinating book with its array of believable characters, their dramas and hopes. Read more:

Interview with Lois Hermann

The author of Chronicles of Hope talks about her book and why it is so timely, who are The   and what they have to tell us, who the book is targeted at, and more. Read more:

A review of The Gifts of Life by Oliver Smuhar

Oliver Smuhar’s The Gifts of Life is a deep and entrancing novel, with its strong fantasy based plotline and elements of the coming of age genre. The rich and well thought out characters created clever relationships and delightful banter. 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 2,526), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, the National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2019 National Book Awards. The winner in each category will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on November 20. The finalists for fiction include: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Henry Holt), Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (One World), Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (Riverhead), The Other Americans by Laila Lalami (Pantheon), and Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Knopf).  For poetry, The Tradition by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon), “I”: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte (University of Pittsburgh Press), Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky (Graywolf), Be Recorder by Carmen Giménez Smith (Graywolf), and Sight Lines by Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon).  For the full list visit:

The 2019 Dayton Peace Prize, which honors authors of both fiction and nonfiction underscoring themes of peace, social justice and global understanding will be awarded to Eli Saslow for his study of white supremacy in the U.S., Rising Out of Hatred, and to Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde for her novel about Iranian refugees living in Sweden, What We Owe. The Dayton Peace, inspired by the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, has been awarded annually since 1995. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up receive $5,000 each. The prize was inspired by the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia.

A shortlist has been released for the C$100,000 (about US$75,465) Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction. The winner will be named November 18. This year’s shortlisted titles are: Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles, The Innocents by Michael Crummey, Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin, Lampedusa by Steven Price, and Reproduction by Ian Williams. 

The winners of the Kirkus Prize, each of whom receive $50,000, are: Fiction: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday), Nonfiction: How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster), and Young Readers’ Literature: New Kid written & illustrated by Jerry Craft, color by Jim Callahan (HarperCollins).

Austrian author and playwright Peter Handke has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2019, with 2018’s postponed award going to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk. The Swedish Academy that selects the Nobel laureates has reformed some of its rules in the wake of a sexual assault scandal last year. The scandal also led to last year’s literature prize being postponed, with the winner for 2018 being named along with the 2019 winner on Thursday. Olga Tokarczuk became the 15th woman to win the award, while Peter Handke was the 114th man.

Patrick Earl Ryan has won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for his collection of short stories called If We Were Electric. The collection will be published in 2020 by the University of Georgia Press, sponsor of the award.

The judges of this year’s Booker Prize have awarded one of fiction’s most prestigious awards to the first joint winners in almost 30 years. Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments (the follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale), and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other (which is told via 12 different characters) tied for first place with the authors splitting the almost $95,000 in prizemoney. Atwood, the award’s oldest winner, said she was happy to share because she didn’t want to “hinder a person in an earlier stage of their career from going through that door.” Evaristo, the first black woman to win the prize, said she would have liked to pocket all the cash, “but I’m happy to share it. That’s the kind of person I am.”

Herkunft (Origins) by Saša Stanišić has won the €25,000 (about $27,600) German Book Prize, sponsored by the Börsenverein (the German book industry association) and honoring the best German-language novel of the year. Judges praised Stanišić for his humor and a kind of storytelling that upends the conventions of storytelling.

World Literature Today announced that Albanian novelist, poet, essayist and playwright Ismail Kadare has won the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which “recognizes outstanding literary merit in literature worldwide.” The winner was named during the Neustadt Lit Fest at the University of Oklahoma. Robert Con Davis-Undiano, World Literature Today’s executive director, called Kadare “one of the world’s great writers and a champion of democracy and free speech.”

The shortlist has been unveiled for the £25,000 (about $32,475) T.S. Eliot Prize, honouring “the best new collection of poetry published in the U.K. or Ireland.” The winner will be announced January 13 in London. This year’s shortlisted titles are: After the Formalities by Anthony Anaxagorou, Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson, Surge by Jay Bernard, The Mizzy by Paul Farley, Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky, Arias by Sharon Olds, The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran, Erato by Deryn Rees-Jones, A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson, and The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie.

Fiona Benson won the £10,000 (about $12,990) Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection for Vertigo & Ghost, which “brings the violence of Greek myths into the #MeToo era,” the Guardian reported.  Chair of judges Shahidha Bari called the book “a work of unfaltering determination and self-inspection. It is an exhilarating collection that pulses with fury, fear and defiance–and enduring hope too.” Stephen Sexton’s If All the World and Love Were Young won the £5,000 (about $6,495) Felix Dennis prize for best first collection, a “moving exploration of how video games shaped his grief over his mother’s death,” the Guardian noted.

Finally, Gail Jones has won the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for The Death of Noah Glass. The work of fiction is about “the mystery of families – the way they share a culture, sayings, habits and memories, while parents and children are essentially unknown to each other,” Jones said. She takes home the $80,000 in prizemoney, as does Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell for their non-fiction win with Half the Perfect World – a history of artists living on the Greek island of Hydra. Judith Beveridge won the poetry award for her book Sun Music: New and Selected Poems.  For the full list visit:

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Robin Rabie, who won a copy of Floating on Secrets by Tantra Bensko. 

Congratulations to Vicki Wurgler, who won a copy of Chronicles in Passing by Carol Smallwood. 

Congratulations to Janet Gould, who won a copy of f Anyone Asks, Say I Died from the Heartbreaking Blues by Philip Cioffari.

Finally, congratulations to Laurie Blum, who won a copy of Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson. 

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Runes for Writers: Boost Your Creativity and Destroy Writer’s Block by Marc Graham.  To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Runes”.

We also have a copy of Chronicles of Hope by Lois Hermann to giveaway.  To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “Hope” and your postal address. 

Good luck, everyone!



David Orsini’s Novel VANISHING BY DEGREES HAS IT ALL! An Exciting Plot…Twists & Surprises…Love, Obsession, & Revenge…A Dangerous Travel Back in Time to Change a Tragedy…Buy the book from AERIO STOREFRONT at



We will shortly be featuring reviews of City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith, Giant Steps edited by Paul Munden and Shane Strange, interviews with Douglas Cole, Sybil Baker and lots more. 

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 Sarah Myles, who reads from and talks about her latest novel The Wolf Hour.  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. 


(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.

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