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The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 16, Issue 10, 1st Oct 2015


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

A review of Iran, My Grandfather by Ali Alizadeh

It’s the story of many things at once: a country torn apart by power factions and manipulation, a story of a man and what happened to his patriotism over time, a story about genetic and cultural inheritance, a story about migration, and above all, what it means to lose a home—something as relevant today as it was during the time of Alizadeh’s migration. Read more:

A review of After You by Jojo Moyes

After You has many strengths, including an important theme and a compassionate, capable central character who follows her instincts in the face of unsolicited advice. Well structured, with much dramatic tension, After You can stand alone, independent of Me Before You. Significant information from the earlier novel is worked smoothly into the narrative in a way that maximizes suspense. For the full review visit:

An interview with Juliette Wells

Juliette Wells is the editor and Introducer of Emma: 200th-Anniversary Annotated Edition. She joins us to talk about Jane Austin, what’s new in this edition, the illustrations, on teaching Austin, Austrians, what’s special about Emma, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Bonds of Love and Blood by Marylee MacDonald

It is refreshing to encounter characters who make their livings outside the professional and academic spheres. MacDonald combines her knowledge of exotic settings and cultures with insights into the human heart to create outstanding stories. For the full review visit:

A review of Smile of a Midsummer Night by Lars Gustafsson and Agneta Blomqvist

Smile of a Midsummer Night In this illuminating book the authors, who happen to be husband and wife, present a personal view of Sweden, a country most of us know very little about. They do this by way of writing several short essays – there are 29 altogether – focusing on different aspects of Sweden and Swedish life. Read more:

A review of Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright

These are close and moving readings that provide depth and personal insight into the narrative framework, the themes that pivot around mental illness and hunger, and the characters that become Wright’s partners through her own recovery. It’s not a facile recovery though. The memory of hunger is almost as acute as the hunger itself. For the full review visit:

An interview with Kaye Dobbie

The author of Sweet Wattle Creek talks about her latest novel, when and why she started writing, about why writing across multiple time periods appeals to her, about the fictional setting of her novel and its inspiration, her favourite books and more. Read more:

A review of Hush Little Bird by Nicole Trope

The theme of surrendering self is just one topic explored through thoughtful dialogue and prose. The characterisation of a sensitive topic demonstrates how it is possible that horrendous things happen, and even people living under the same roof don’t realise what’s going on. We see first-hand why victims sometimes can’t speak out until many years after the event. For the full review visit:

Interview with with Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

The author and illustrator of Toys Meet Snow talk about their new picture book and its relationship to the chapter books and how different the illustration process was, about the author/illustrator working relationship, about where the idea for the book came from, about the characters and why they resonate with readers, ideas for parents of reluctant readers, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Heal Your Gut by Lee Holmes

I didn’t realize until reading Heal Your Gut just how critical good gut health is, and how integrated gut health is with overall health. For people who are really suffering with gut issues, and I know from personal experience that this is not fun and can be debilitating, following Holmes’ full protocol can be life changing. For everyone else, this is a very useful resource that will help improve the diet, improve gut function and overall well-being, while providing a treasure trove of easy to follow gut-friendly recipes suitable for the whole family. For the full review visit:

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, which can be browsed from the front page of the site.



Hello readers. In the literary news this month, Guardian Australia and Hachette Australia announce the 21 writers in the running for inaugural $10,000 Richell books prize, chosen from more than 900 entries. The prize, was established in memory of Matt Richell, former chief executive at Hachette, who died in a surfing accident in 2014. Emerging writers prize launched by Hachette and Guardian Australia. Richell was a big advocate for new writers during his publishing career in the UK and Australia. The winning writer will receive $10,000 and a year’s mentoring from a publisher at Hachette, who will have first option to publish the book. The full longlist can be found here:

Mao Dun Literature Prize, the most prestigious literature prize in China, was established in the will of Mao Dun, one of the best known writers in China, and operated by Chinese Writers Association. It has been awarded every four years since 1982. They are: Yellowbird Story, by Su Tong; Jiangnan Trilogy, by Ge Fei (consisting of My Dream of the Mountain and River, Spring Ends in Jiangnan, and Face and Peach Blossom); Scenery on this Side, by Wang Meng; Blossoms, by Jin Yucheng; and The Book of Life, by Li Peifu.

Don DeLillo is pleased to receive an honorary National Book award medal for lifetime achievement. The 78-year-old New York City native was praised on Wednesday by the National Book Foundation, which presents the awards, for “a diverse body of work that examines the mores of contemporary modern American culture and brilliantly embeds the rhythms of everyday speech within a beautifully composed, contoured narrative”. Pulitzer prize winner Jennifer Egan will introduce DeLillo at the 66th annual National Book awards ceremony, which takes place on 18 November in Manhattan. Previous honorary winners include Toni Morrison, Philip Roth and Norman Mailer.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize has announced its longlist for this year’s award at McGill University. The prize awards C$100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and C$10,000 to each of the finalists. The longlist for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize is: André Alexis for his novel Fifteen Dogs, published by Coach House Books, Samuel Archibald for his story collection Arvida, published by Biblioasis, translated from the French by Donald Winkler, Michael Christie for his novel If I Fall, If I Die, published by McClelland & Stewart, Rachel Cusk for her novel Outline, published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, Patrick deWitt for his novel Undermajordomo Minor, published by House of Anansi Press, Marina Endicott for her novel Close to Hugh, published by Doubleday Canada, Connie Gault for her novel A Beauty, published by McClelland & Stewart, Alix Hawley for her novel All True Not a Lie in It, published by Knopf Canada, Clifford Jackman for his novel The Winter Family, published by Random House Canada, Heather O’Neill for her story collection Daydreams of Angels, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, Anakana Schofield for her novel Martin John, published by A John Metcalf Book, an imprint of Biblioasis, and Russell Smith for his story collection Confidence, published by A John Metcalf Book, an imprint of Biblioasis.

Finalists were named for the $10,000 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which recognizes fiction and nonfiction that “celebrates the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding.” A winner and runner-up in each category will be announced September 30, and honored November 1 at a ceremony in Dayton. The shortlisted fiction titles are: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner), An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Grove Atlantic), Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead), The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (Knopf), The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (HarperCollins), and The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (Grove Atlantic)

Kate Worsley’s debut novel She Rises (Bloomsbury, March 2014) is the £2,000 winner of the 2015 New Angle Prize for Literature, announced at the Awards Dinner on Wednesday 9th September. In the words of the judges “She Rises was the unanimous winner for its memorable characters, brilliant narrative voice, beautiful detail and a sensational story. She Rises is a feat of imagination which will appeal to a diverse audience”. The biennial prize was established in 2009 to celebrate the literature of East Anglia. There are no categories – entries simply have to have a strong East Anglian theme. The winning entry is set in eighteenth century Harwich, evoking the harsh, sometimes brutal, maritime tradition of the east coast with characters firmly rooted in their north Essex hinterland. The New Angle Prize is organised by the Ipswich Institute (independent library and the only surviving Birkbeck foundation other than London’s Birkbeck College) and is sponsored by Gotelee Solicitors and Scrutton Bland accountants.

The Academy of American Poets announced the 2015 winners of its annual poetry prizes. This year’s recipients are: Joy Harjo won the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, which recognizes “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.” Marie Howe received the $25,000 Academy of American poets fellowship, which honors “distinguished poetic achievement.” Kevin Young’s Book of Hours (Knopf) won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for “the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year.” Kathryn Nuernberger’s The End of Pink (BOA Editions, 2016) won the $5,000 James Laughlin Award, which is given for a second book of poetry by an American poet. Roger Greenwald’s Guarding the Air: Selected Poems by Gunnar Harding (Black Widow Press) the $1,000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, which recognizes a published translation of poetry from any language into English that demonstrates literary excellence. Todd Portnowitz won the $25,000 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize, which recognizes outstanding translations of modern Italian poetry into English, for his translation of Pierluigi Cappello’s Go Tell It to the Emperor: Selected Poems. Blake N. Campbell won the inaugural $1,000 Aliki Perroti & Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award, which recognizes a student poet.

The National Book Foundation has announced ten contenders for the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry. Finalists will be revealed on October 14. The Longlist includes well-known poets and one emerging poet with a debut collection. Among them are two former National Book Award Winners, a former National Book Award Finalist, a Whiting Writers’ Award winner, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and two Cave Canem Fellows. The ten poets, five men and five women, reside in six different states and one foreign country. The full list can be found here:

The National Book Awards longlist for fiction includes collections of short stories, such as Refund: Stories by Karen E. Bender; Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew; and Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for The Orphan Master’s Son. There’s also Angela Flournoy’s debut novel, The Turner House, and second works by T. Geronimo Johnson, Hanya Yanagihara and Nell Zink. Multiple works delve into marriage, family and loss, including Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family and Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. For more details visit:

The 2015 Man Booker Prize shortlist of six novels is: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Jamaica), Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (U.K.), The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (U.K.), A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (U.S.), and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (U.S.). The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 13, in London.

Martin R. Dean, Dana Grigorcea, Meral Kureyshi, Ruth Schweikert and Monique Schwitter are on the shortlist for the Swiss Book Prize 2015. The prize is worth a total of CHF 40,000. The public award ceremony will take place on Sunday 8 November.

Finally, A book described by one critic as eavesdropping “on America and a racism that has never gone away” has won the top award at the 2015 Forward prizes for poetry. Claudia Rankine has already won the National Book Critics Circle award in the US for Citizen: An American Lyric. On Monday night at a ceremony in London she was named winner of the Forward prize for best collection. Rankine, who was born in Jamaica and now lives in California, teaching at the University of Southern California, wins £10,000. Two other winners at the awards, now in their 24th year, were Mona Arshi, who won the £5,000 Felix Dennis prize for best first collection, and Clare Harman, who won the £1,000 prize for best single poem.

Have a great month.

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Congratulations to Melissa Oppedisano, who won a copy of A world Elsewhere: An American Woman in Wartime by Sigrid MacRae.

Congratulations also to Diane Stedner, who won a copy of The Republic of Imagination: A Life in Books by Azar Nafisi.

Congratulations to Christine Martin and Mary Preston, who each won a copy of The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of After You by JoJo Moyes. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “After You”.

We also have a copy of THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST CÉZANNE by M.L. Longworth to giveaway. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Cezanne”.

We also have a copy of the new Penguin Classics 200th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Jane Austen’s EMMA, with a new introduction and notes by Goucher professor Juliette Wells. To win, send me an email with your postal address and the subject line “Emma”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of Ground by Martin Langford, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, and lots more reviews, news, interviews, and giveaways.

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(c) 2015 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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