Compulsive Reader

The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 17, Issue 10, 1 Oct 2016



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


Hello readers. Here is the latest batch of reviews and interviews this month:

Interview with Madison Windsong

Madison Windsong talks about growing up in Amish country, about when and why she started writing, about her style, her favourite authors, her covers, the travel she’s done for her books, her biggest challenges, advice for other writers, work in progress, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook

Anyone who is uncomfortable with swearing should keep away from this book. It makes a Billy Connolly routine seem prissy. People who don’t believe a meal without meat, eggs and/or dairy is worth eating will also be disappointed with the lack of animal products. Anyone else who is looking for lighter, healthier and more ecologically sound eating, however, will find new inspiration and ideas from these recipes, and a range of really good food that doesn’t require fancy ingredients, long cooking times with multiple recipes, or difficult techniques. For the full review visit:

Another Dodge in a System of Dodges: Evasion of Responsibility in What Maisie Knew, Book and Film

Henry James created characters able to embody his concern for elegance, intelligence, morality, and social ritual; and his work attains intellectual and spiritual dimension of a high degree—and his style, thoughtful, textured, teasing, can be complex to the point of profound obscurity, requiring attention, consideration, and deep understanding. The drama is increased for all that. Read more:

A review of The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things is an easy book to read but a hard one to digest. It holds up a mirror that shows an ugly reflection of the relationship between capitalism and misogyny that once glimpsed cannot be unseen. Though it’s disturbing, The Natural Way of Things is also powerful, beautiful, and utterly important. For the full review visit:

A review of How to Be a Writer by John Birmingham and Use Your Words by Catherine Deveny

In How to Be a Writer, he is free with the swearing and the sexual metaphors, but also with solid advice about tackling writerly problems and going about making a living out of writing. The first part of the book deals with issues such as finding your voice as a writer, the need to specialise in the ever-changing world of publishing, getting a routine established (just not one like Hunter S Thompson’s, too much cocaine), and using technology to your advantage. Read more:

A review of Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris

The chapters alternate between Present and Past. Sometimes an event occurs in the “present” which leaves us puzzled, but it is explained in one of the next “Past” chapters. One never gets lost in these time shifts, thanks to the chapter labelling, but one is often confused. By keeping us uncertain, author E.A. Paris is making us experience something of what Grace is going through. For the full review visit:

A review of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

However, this is a book that once opened cannot be put down till the last satisfying page. Erika Swylers elegant style shines through in a way that will leave the reader longing for the release of her second novel. If it is anything like this one, Erika is destined for the best-seller lists. Read more:

An interview with with Shannon Baker

The author of Stripped Bare talks about her setting in Nebraska Sandhills, some of the most surprising things she found in her research for the book, what fascinates her about writing, her typical workday, her other books, her upcoming project and lots more. For the full review visit:

A review of Undying: A Love Story by Michel Faber

Faber’s grief is like a river that runs through the book, sometimes coming across as confused, sad, and angry, but never maudlin. Instead, grief becomes the starting point for a celebration of life. It’s not just Eva, and the many aspects of her life and death that are discovered through this work. It’s also about what it means to live in the face of such an inevitable and untimely death. Read more:

A review of The Three Books of Shama by Benjamin Kwakye

The Three Books is caught in the urge to distinguish without distinguishing. Just as its narrator has “the perception that neither blames nor absolves,” the story itself is sculpted in a way to avoid specificity: a nameless Democratic President is “accused” of being muslim and struggles against a Republican-controlled Congress to appoint a Justice. 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 (currently at 1,991 reviews!), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



A Veritable Toxic Waste Dump
The debut novel by Josh Woodrose explores what it means to be callous, kind, selfish, and supportive through the interactions that take place between an alcoholic, a young man with autism, and a veteran of the war in Iraq. It seeks to understand how to engage with a world that no one individual has control over, and finds answers in the simple, honest connections that are made when one person opens up to another.  Visit:



In the literary news this month, the Center for Fiction has announced the shortlist for its annual $10,000 First Novel Prize. The titles include The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron (Seven Stories Press), The Girls by Emma Cline (Random House), Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf), How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee (Viking), We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin Books), and What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Finalists have been announced for the C$10,000 (about US$7,625) Toronto Book Awards, which recognize “titles that speak to the city‚ its people and its heritage,” Quillblog reported. The winner will be announced at the Toronto Reference Library October 11. This year’s finalists are Men of Action by Howard Akle, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi, The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighborhood, edited by John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg and Tatum Taylor, On the Shores of Darkness There Is Light by Cordelia Strube, and Heyday by Marnie Woodrow.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa, a bilingual poet from Cork, was named as this year’s winner of the Rooney Prize of Irish Literature, Ireland’s oldest literary award, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. The Rooney prize is awarded for a body of work by a young Irish writer that shows exceptional promise. Ní Ghríofa has published widely and her recent collection of poetry, Clasp, her first in English after two in Irish, was a significant factor in being awarded the prize.

The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine have awarded $129,000 in prizes to five young poets through the Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships, which are “intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry” and are open to all U.S. poets between the ages of 21 and 31. Kaveh Akbar, Jos Charles, Angel Nafis, Alison C. Rollins and Javier Zamora will each receive $25,800. Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine, said: “Poets aren’t just makers, they are doers. Each one of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellows excels at both of these things. They have all already had a salutary influence on American poetry, and it’s an honor for us to support their distinctive and essential efforts in an art form that is reaching more people than ever before.”

The Academy of American Poets announced the 2016 winners of its annual poetry prizes. Sharon Olds won the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, which recognizes “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.” Natasha Trethewey received the $25,000 Academy of American poets fellowship, which honors “distinguished poetic achievement.” Lynn Emanuel’s The Nerve of It won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for “the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year.” Mary Hickman’s Rayfish won the $5,000 James Laughlin Award, which is given for a second book of poetry by an American poet. Ron Padgett (Zone: Selected Poems by Guillaume Apollinaire) was cited for the $1,000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, which recognizes a published translation of poetry from any language into English that demonstrates literary excellence. Stephen Sartarelli won the $10,000 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize, which recognizes outstanding translations of modern Italian poetry into English, for his translation of The Selected Poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Donte Collin won the $1,000 Aliki Perroti & Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award, which recognizes a student poet.

American poet Sharon Olds has won the $100,000 (£75,000) Wallace Stevens award for her “proven mastery in the art of poetry”. Judges praised her work for its “candour and clarity” and for having given younger female poets “permission to speak”. Olds, winner of the Pulitzer and the TS Eliot prize for her poetry collection about her divorce, Stag’s Leap, was named winner of the prize by the Academy of American Poets. The Wallace Stevens award has previously gone to poets including John Ashbery, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Adrienne Rich. Her fellow poet Mark Doty, chancellor of the Academy, called Olds “an American master and a national treasure”. The Academy of American Poets also announced Natasha Trethewey as the recipient of its $25,000 fellowship, following in the footsteps of the likes of Robert Frost and Ezra Pound. Lynn Emanuel won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall poetry prize for the most outstanding poetry book of the year for the The Nerve of It .

The six shortlisted authors for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction have been announced, and include: Paul Beatty (US) The Sellout (Oneworld), Deborah Levy (UK) Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton), Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) His Bloody Project (Contraband), Ottessa Moshfegh (US) Eileen (Jonathan Cape), David Szalay (Canada-UK) All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape) and Madeleine Thien (Canada) Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books). This is the third year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK. Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize has announced the finalists for its 2016 fiction and nonfiction prizes. The shortlist includes Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nagasaki by Susan Southard, and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. The full shortlist can be found here:

A shortlist has been unveiled for the £15,000 (about $19,500) BBC National Short Story Award with BookTrust, which “aims to promote the best in contemporary British short fiction.” The winner and runner-up will be announced October 4. This year’s shortlisted authors are: Tahmima Anam for “Garments”, K.J. Orr for “Disappearances”, Lavinia Greenlaw for “The Darkest Place in England”. Hilary Mantel for “In a Right State”, and Claire-Louise Bennett for “Morning, Noon & Night”

The 23 recipients of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants–$625,000 paid out over five years to people who “show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future”–include these authors: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, playwright and author of Appropriate, An Octoroon and Gloria. Kellie Jones, art historian and curator, whose works include EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art and the forthcoming South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Josh Kun, cultural historian, and author of, among other titles, Audiotopia, To Live and Dine in LA: Menus and the Making of the Modern City and Songs in the Key of Los Angeles. Maggie Nelson, writer, whose works include nonfiction like The Red Parts and The Art of Cruelty and books both on poetry and of poetry, Claudia Rankine, poet and author of five poetry collections, Lauren Redniss, artist and writer, whose books include Century Girl, Radioactive and Thunder and Lightning, and Gene Luen Yang, graphic novelist, whose work includes American-Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints and the ongoing series Secret Coders.

Vahni Capildeo won the £15,000 (about $19,590) Forward Prize for the Best Poetry Collection for Measure of Expatriation. Chair of the jury Malika Booker said the book “is a work that amazes. We found a vertiginous excitement in the way in which the book grasps its subject: the sense of never quite being at home. This is poetry that transforms. When people in the future seek to know what it’s like to live between places, traditions, habits and cultures, they will read this. Here is the language for what expatriation feels like.” The £5,000 (about $6,530) Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection was awarded to Tiphanie Yanique for Wife. And the winner of the £1,000 ($1,305) prize for Best Single Poem was Sasha Dugdale for “Joy.”

Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiongo (78) has been named as the winner of the sixth Pak Kyong-ni Literature Award. The award is presented by the Toji Cultural Center, the Pak Kyong-ni Literature Award Committee, Gangwon Province, Wonju City and The Dong-A Ilbo.“Ngugi Wa Thiongo is a writer who distinctively reveals different angles of the lives of people undergoing the process of globalization,” the Toji Cultural Center and the Pak Kyong-ni Literature Award Review Committee said on Tuesday to explain the reason for selecting the writer. “He is considered to be a writer who complies with the purpose of the Pak Kyong-ni Literature Award.” The prize money is 100 million won (89,300 U.S. dollars).

An “ecological love story” is not a common genre, but this is how Susie Greenhill, winner of this year’s Richell prize, sees her novel The Clinking. Greenhill, who was also longlisted for last year’s Richell prize, stood out among 428 entries in the second year of the award, which is offered to Australian writers who have not yet published a book. A partnership between Guardian Australia, the Emerging writers’ festival and Hachette Australia, the prize is judged blind and includes $10,000 in prize money, a mentorship and a publication option with Hachette.

Finally, Debut authors and established writers alike are in the running for Canada’s $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The six contenders are: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad, Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux, translated by Lazer Lederhendler. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, and The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Mary Preston, who won a copy of We.Are.Family by Paul Mitchell.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Behind Closed Doors”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of This is Not my Life by Diane Schoemperlen, Tenderness and Temperature by Caroline Bachmann and Stefan Banz, The Reason for Time, by Mary Burns, Letter to Pessoa by Michelle Cahill, Mean Numbers by Ian Ganassi, and lots more reviews, news, interviews, and 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 the latest interview with Tim Elliott, who reads from and talks about his memoir Farewell to the Father.

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 and get updates automatically. Just find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader. Then just click subscribe.


(c) 2016 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