Compulsive Reader

Compulsive Reader News
Volume 22, Issue 9, 1 Sept 2020



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

An interview with Fred Stuvek

The author of Don’t F*** This Up! talks about his new book and its confronting title, on the dimensions of success, his core ideas, advice for job seekers, and more. Read more:

A review of Convenient Amnesia by Donald Vincent

This collection by Donald Vincent deserves to be read not just for his lyrical lines but because his poems bring emotional life to a cultural crisis. Books of poetry like Vincent’s convey social and personal histories that affirm and remind, that interrupt tendencies of convenient amnesia. Read more:

A review of What Kind of Man by Tony Gloeggler

These poems are all very New York-y, another source of the gritty joie de vivre at the heart of his outlook. Having been born in New York and lived his entire life in New York, this is natural, but it informs Gloeggler’s attitude, and there’s so much New York atmosphere, from scenes, neighborhoods, personalities, institutions, the public transportation. Read more:

A review of Imperfect by Lee Kofman

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend time Googling these people, or that I wasn’t fascinated by the whole notion of what constitutes beauty – and the way in which it’s judged. Kofman doesn’t pretend to have an answer—Imperfect is not a didactic book, and nor does it present a thesis that beauty is more than ‘skin deep’ and that judgement in any form is bad–we cannot help gazing at the beautiful or indeed the shocking. What the book does show however, is that these are complex and important questions to raise and that familiarity and reflectiveness are a means to better understanding who we are. Read more:

An interview with Sally Bird

Sally Bird runs Calidris Literary Agency. In this in-depth interview, she talks about the changing role of the literary agent, the repercussions of Covid-19 on the book world: authors, publishers, and readers, post-covid predictions, advice for authors, and lots more. Read more:

Remembering Cats Eye

Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1989. I haven’t read The Remains of the Day, the book that won, but it doesn’t matter. Cat’s Eye was robbed. Every sentence in the novel’s 498 pages serves the whole beating heart of it. No word is superfluous. Each one is a mini portal, transporting us and the main character, Elaine, back into memories without warning, exactly as Atwood intended. Read more:

An interview with Lucy Rose Fischer

The author of The Journalist talks about her new book and its inspiration, about her big brother Jerry Rose, why it took her so long, on ‘ghost-writing’, her own life, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Karen Pearlman’s Woman with an Editing Bench, After the Facts, and I want to make a film about women

Collectively, the films present a compelling story of quiet tenacity, talent, and artistic determination. The films are all exquisite, featuring a distinctive blend of narration by Pearlman overlaying an Expressionist montage of documentary images, storytelling, and visual imagery to create seamless shifts between past and present, inner life and outer, and the creative process versus the finished film. Read more:

A review of Virginia Woolf and the Women who Shaped her World by Gillian Gill

Gill’s book is a tour de force in bringing together information about Virginia Woolf’s Pattle ancestors and the Thackeray connection; in showing the damaging patriarchal milieu out of which she fought her way,  and in highlighting her use of autobiographical material in her novels. Read more:

A review of No Finis by Deborah Woodard

Woodard’s sections are simultaneously beautiful and prosaic, terrifying and enraging. The workers are mostly women, many immigrants who spoke little English yet were still forced to testify in English, despite there being an available translator. The women’s conditions, both in the workspace and also as humans, are on full display in the courtroom, and Woodard opens the door for readers to understand the workers positions. Read more:

All of the reviews and interviews listed above available at The Compulsive Reader on the front page. Older reviews and interviews are kept indefinitely in our extensive (and growing) categorized archives (currently at 2,662), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, shortlists have been released for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for U.K. Nature Writing, which recognises a book that “most successfully inspires readers to explore the outdoors and to nurture a respect for the natural world.” Presented in association with the National Trust, this year’s prize has been extended to include a second category for books about global conservation and climate change. The £5,000 (about $6,265) prize fund will be shared by the authors of the winning books, which will be named September 9. The shortlisted titles are, for U.K. Nature Writing: Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty, The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange, On the Red Hill by Mike Parker, Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash, Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape by Patrick Laurie, Dancing with Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard, illustrated by John Walters, and Wanderland by Jini Reddy.  For the full list visit:

A longlist has been released for the inaugural Laurel Prize, honoring “the best published collection of environmental or nature poetry.” The award is funded by U.K. poet laureate Simon Armitage out of his honorarium, which he receives annually from the Queen, and is run by the Poetry School. The winner, who will be announced this autumn, receives £5,000 (about $6,265), with £2,000 (about $2,505) going to the second place finisher and £1,000 (about $1,255) for third. In addition, this year’s partner, the U.K.’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is funding a commission for the three winners to write a poem inspired by the area of natural beauty closest to their heart. Check out the complete Laurel Prize longlist here:

The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has announced three finalists for the 2020 Harriet Tubman Prize, which awards $7,500 to the best nonfiction book published in the U.S. on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery in the Atlantic World. The winner will be named in November. This year’s shortlisted titles are: Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home by Richard Bell (S&S), They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers (Yale University Press), and Standard-Bearers of Equality: America’s First Abolition Movement by Paul J. Polgar (University of North Carolina Press).

The Writers’ Trust of Canada has named the five finalists for the C$25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, which recognizes “a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life.” Each finalist receives C$2,500 (about US$1,840). The winner will be announced September 23 during a digital edition of the Politics and the Pen gala. This year’s shortlisted titles are: Canada on the United Nations Security Council: A Small Power on a Large Stage by Adam Chapnick, Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada by Harold R. Johnson, Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada by Jonathan Manthorpe, Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law by Beverley McLachlin, and Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case by Kent Roach.

The winners of the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced at the State Library of Western Australia on Friday 7 August 2020. There are currently sixteen members of the Hall of Fame – the first inductee was Alec Choate, the most recent was Tim Winton. In between, falls writing greats like Jack Davies, Mary Durack, Dorothy Hewett, Elizabeth Jolley, Shaun Tan and Randolph Stow – to mention just a few. John Carey MLA, Member for Perth, announced Kim Scott as the newest inductee into the Western Australian Writers Hall of Fame.  The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and Young Adult Fiction ($15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books) went to Our Matriarchs Matter by Teela May Reid The Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer ($15,000) went to Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard (Fremantle Press), The Premier’s Prize for Writing for Children ($15,000) went to Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia), and The Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship ($60,000) went to Amanda Curtin (you can check out our reviews of Amanda’s phenomenal books Elemental and Inherited here: 

Finalists have been unveiled for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards, honouring the best in New Zealand crime writing, Books+Publishing reported. The winners will be announced at the WORD Christchurch Festival in late October. This year’s shortlisted titles are: Whatever It Takes by Paul Cleave, Girl from the Tree House by Gudrun Frerichs, Auē by Becky Manawatu, The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald.

Former New Zealand poet laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh’s first book for children, Mophead, was named Margaret Mahy Book of the Year at the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults during a virtual presentation. The title also won the nonfiction category. Other award winners include Picture book: Abigail and the Birth of the Sun by Matthew Cunningham, illustrated by Sarah Wilkin, Junior fiction: Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan, YA fiction: Aspiring by Damien Wilkins, Illustration: The Adventures of Tupaia, illustrated by Mat Tait, written by Courtney Sina Meredith, Te Kura Pounamu Award for te reo Māori: Tio Tiamu by Kurahau, illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers, and First Book: #Tumeke! by Michael Petherick. 

Alycia Pirmohamed won the £20,000 (about $25,060) Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, presented online during the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Scotland’s first modern Makar (national poet), Morgan specified that the award be funded through his estate and given to a Scottish poet under the age of 30. “Never forgetting his difficulties in his early years as a poet, he wanted to lend a helping hand to promising poets at what can be a discouraging period in their career.”

A Radical Romance by Alison Light has won the 2020 PEN Ackerley Prize, the U.K.’s only literary prize dedicated to memoir and autobiography. Two other books were shortlisted for the prize: Ghostland by Edward Parnell and The Photographer at Sixteen by George Szirtes.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann has won the 2020 James Tait Black Prize for Fiction and The Photographer at Sixteen: The Death and Life of a Fighter by George Szirtes has won the 2020 James Tait Black Prize for Biography. The £10,000 (about $13,125) prizes were presented during the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which was held virtually this year. 

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison, won the 2020 International Booker Prize, which celebrates a work of fiction, translated into English and published in the U.K. The £50,000 (about $65,995) award is divided equally between author and translator. In addition, each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000 (about $1,320).

Finally, the Poetry Foundation has announced Marilyn Chin as the winner of the 2020 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Saskia Hamilton as winner of the 2020 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism, and the extension of Naomi Shihab Nye’s tenure as Young People’s Poet Laureate. The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize annually honors a living US poet with an award of $100,000 in recognition of their outstanding lifetime achievement; the $7,500 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism prize annually honors “the best book-length works of criticism published in the prior calendar year”; and the Young People’s Poet Laureate title and $25,000 prize “celebrate a living writer in recognition of their devotion to writing exceptional poetry for young readers.”



Congratulations to Erica Hughes, who won a copy of Griffins Perch by Ian Conner.  

Congratulations to Sarah Moorse, who won a copy of The City that Barks and Roars by J T Bird. 

Congratulations to Alex Phuong who won a copy of Have You Seen These Children? A Memoir by Veronica Slaughter.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Anthropica by David Hollander.  To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Anthropica” and your postal address in the body of the message.

We also have a copy of The Holy Conspiracy by Kristi Saare Duarte to give away. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “The Holy Conspiracy” and your postal address in the body of the message.

Finally, we have a limited edition hardback copy of The Rehabilitation of Thomas Mark by Tom Crites. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Rehabilitation of Thomas Mark” and your postal address in the body of the message.

Good luck, everyone!



The Parisian Professor

The Story of a CIA Operative

A New Spy Novel by Joseph Sciuto


The Parisian Professor explores the roots of state-sanctioned corruption and the scourge of dictatorship in America and beyond.




We will shortly be featuring reviews of The Beating Heart by Denise O’Hagen, Black Rabbit by Angus Gaunt, Stories from Bondi by Libby Sommer, Sea Glass Catastrophe by Quinn Rennerfeldt, an interview with Breaker author Richard Thomas, and lots more reviews and interviews. 

Drop by The Compulsive Reader talks (see widget on right hand side of the site) to listen to our latest episode which features an interview with Lee Kofman who talks about her book Imperfect. You can listen to the latest episode directly from the site widget or go to show directly here:  You can also subscribe to the show via iTunes and get updates automatically, straight to your favourite listening device. Find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader Talks. Then just click subscribe.  If you listen on iTunes and enjoy it, please leave a review – it will help others find us!  Thank you!


(c) 2020 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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