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The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 16, Issue 12, 1 Dec 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 M Train by Patti Smith

Smith would have us believe that is a book about nothing. She opens it with a phrase from a dream that haunts her: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” Those of us who recognise her intense grief, and the determination to capture these experiences in poetic prose, will disagree that this is a book about nothing. Perhaps it’s a book where “nothing” happens: it becomes something.
Read more:

An interview with Billie Bond

The author of And Then There Was One: A Memoir of My Survival of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse and Mental Illness talks about her new book, about her inspirations, the messages in her book, favourite authors, about the programs she works for, on how it feels to be published, advice for people grappling with similar issues, and lots more. For the full review visit:

A review of La De Da De by Battles

Battles hasn’t been the same without Tyondai Braxton. As much is obvious when you listen to Tyondai’s 2009 Central Market, a haunting homage to Stravinsky’s Ballet Petrushka and the 2008 market crash, beside Battles’ 2011 album, a year after he left, Gloss Drop. Their first album, Mirrored, showed quirkiness that demanded serious attention. More Aubrey Plaza than Zooey Deschanel. Now Battles returns with La Di Da Di, an album as benign as its name, hovering between considerable monotony and death throes. Read more:

An interview with Julie Barton

The author of Dog Medicine talks about her book, the writing process, on examining her life, the novel she wrote before Dog Medicine, on writing as therapy, on her dog Bunker and how he saved her, on writing about pain, her other pets, her work-in-progress, and lots more. For the full review visit:

A review of A Regicide by Alain Robbe-Grillet

A Regicide For a novel written in 1947, half-heartedly revised in 1957 and finally published in France in 1978, A Regicide is a disconcertingly contemporary read. Moreover, it is possible to place your finger on exactly why this is so: Robbe-Grillet’s frequent descriptions of nature, of plants and insects and coastline, as fragile and precarious: that’s what strikes home. The island kingdom where an assassination (imagined? actual?) is played out is battened by tempests, beset by drought. Seasons are awry. Read more:

A review of The Gestapo by Frank McDonough

The Gestapo: The Myth and Reality of Hitler’s Secret Police In popular imagination, in films and on TV, the Gestapo are generally portrayed as brutal and sadistic thugs. While this is not entirely false – ‘enhanced interrogations’, to use the euphemism, did occur in certain instances – it is misleading when we look at how the Gestapo operated in Germany (the Altreich) itself. For the full review visit:

A review of Review of Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit by Susan Swartwout

From Louisiana to Honduras, Susan Swartwout covers much ground in her poetry collection, Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit. The collection is billed as a gothic take on Southern culture, and in some aspects it is, but there is more here than meets the eyes or first reading. The collection also tells a family’s history and the impact of this on the life of the individual who tells it. Read more:

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

The four novels making up the “Neapolitan” quartet follow the entwined lives of Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo Carracci, from elementary school in the 1950s to Lila’s disappearance at age sixty. The Story of the Lost Child, the fourth and final volume, presents Elena and Lila in mid-life, both back in their crime-ridden impoverished neighbourhood. Their friendship, never harmonious, continues to go up and down until a tragedy and a sad aftermath change things. For the full review visit:

A Conversation with Jackie Copleton

The author of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding talks about her new novel, about her interest in Nagasaki, about why she chose to explore this history through the lens of a family, about her research and what surprised her, about her novel’s structure, about the challenges of creating a character whose time and culture are so different, about the use of Japanese words, her title’s meaning, about how the lessons learned from that time resonate in our current political climate, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Overcoming OCD by Janet Singer and Seth J Gillian

Not only does Overcoming OCD provide advice, support, and hope to parents, but it also talks to some of the struggles that OCD puts on other siblings, the pitfalls to watch out for in certain types of treatments, things (like enabling) to be careful of, and above all, the importance of remaining positive even when the situation looks intractable. 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, Scottish novelist Kerry Hudson has beaten Martin Amis to win France’s prestigious Prix Femina for translated fiction with her second novel, Thirst. The Prix Femina, judged by an all-female jury, was established in 1904 as an alternative to the Goncourt prize. It can be won by either a man or a womanand has gone in recent years to books by Richard Ford and Edward St Aubyn. This year saw Hudson’s Thirst, published in French as La couleur de l’eau, take six of the jury’s votes. Amis’s The Zone of Interest won five, according to French book trade magazine Livres Hebdo. The Prix Femina for best novel in French went to Christophe Boltanski’s La Cache, while its prize for best essay went to Emmanuelle Loyer’s biography of Claude Levi-Strauss. Earlier this week, the Prix Goncourt was awarded to Mathias Énard for his novel Boussole.

The Silkworm by JK Rowling’s pseudonym Robert Galbraith and Ian McEwan’s The Children Act are among 25 British novels in the running for the world’s richest literary prize. They feature on the International Impac Dublin Literary Award’s 2016 longlist, alongside BBC journalist Kirsty Wark’s debut The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle. Libraries in 118 cities around the world nominated 160 books. The 100,000 euro (£71,300) prize winner will be announced on 9 June 2016. The full list can be found here:

André Alexis has been named the winner of the C$100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award for fiction, for his novel Fifteen Dogs (Coach House Books). Alexis’ debut novel Childhood (McClelland & Stewart) was shortlisted for the prize in 1998. Fifteen Dogs, which won the C$25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, is an allegory in which two Greek gods grant 15 dogs human consciousness to see if the maneuver will bring the canines happiness. The jury said the novel was one in which “humor juxtaposed with savagery, solitude with the desperate need to be part of a pack,” and that it has “perceptive prose interspersed with playful poetry.”

Mexican author Fernando del Paso was awarded the Cervantes Prize on Thursday. The $135,000 award is the most prestigious Spanish-language literary prize. The 80-year-old writer is known best worldwide for the massive and ambitious “Palinuro of Mexico.” The book was published in Spain in 1977, in Mexico in 1980 and won the award for best foreign novel when it was published in France in the mid-’80s. It wasn’t published in the United States until 1996.

Shortlists for the 2015 Costa Book Awards have been released. Category winners, who each receive £5,000 (about $7,606), will be announced January 4, with the overall £30,000 (about $45,638) Costa Book of the Year winner named January 26. The nominees for novel are A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, The Green Road by Anne Enright, A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale, and At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison. For the full list including first novel, bio, poetry and children’s book, visit:

Robert Winston has won the £10,000 (about $15,212) Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize for a third time with Utterly Amazing Science. The winner was chosen by more than 1,500 young people on judging panels around the U.K. Chair of the adult judging panel John Burland said the winning title “brings to life topics that our young people will be learning about in schools in a colorful and fun way. The best way to learn about the scientific laws that govern our universe is to get out there and experiment.”

Poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe won the A$60,000 (about US$42,701) Melbourne Prize for Literature, presented every three years to a Victorian author “whose body of published or produced work has made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature, as well as to cultural and intellectual life.” Andrea Goldsmith was awarded the A$30,000 (about US$21,350) Best Writing Award, presented for “a piece of published or produced work of outstanding clarity, originality and creativity by a Victorian writer,” for her novel The Memory Trap.

The winners of the 66th National Book Awards were announced on November 18 at New York City’s Cipriani Downtown. Winners included Adam Johnson (Fiction), Ta-Nehisi Coates (Nonfiction), Robin Coste Lewis (Poetry), and Neal Shusterman (Young People’s Literature). The Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters went to Don DeLillo, author of Libra and White Noise (both Viking), as well as his upcoming book, Zero K (Scribner). Pultizer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan presented the award to DeLillo, crediting the writer for proving to her generation that “fiction can still do anything it wants.”

On Monday 23 November 2015 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield announced the 2015 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists which recognise exceptional literary achievement by Australian writers in fiction, non‐fiction, young adult fiction, children’s fiction, poetry and Australian history. The 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for fiction include: Amnesia, Peter Carey (Penguin Books Australia), In Certain Circles, Elizabeth Harrower (Text Publishing), Golden Boys, Sonya Hartnett (Penguin Books Australia), The Golden Age, Joan London (Random House Australia), and To Name Those Lost, Rohan Wilson (Allen & Unwin). For Poetry, it was Devadatta’s Poems, Judith Beveridge (Giramondo Publishing), Exhibits of the Sun, Stephen Edgar (Black Pepper Publishing), Poems 1957‐2013, Geoffrey Lehmann (UWA Publishing), Earth Hour, David Malouf (University of Queensland Press), and Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems, Alex Skovron (Puncher & Wattmann). For the full media release and list visit:

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami on Tuesday won Denmark’s top literary award, the Hans Christian Andersen Prize, following in the footsteps of such writers as J.K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie. The award, named after Denmark’s famous fairytale creator H.C. Andersen, comes with a cheque for 500,000 kroner (67,000 euros, $71,400). The prize-giving is due to take place in Odense, Andersen’s hometown, in October 2016.

Anne Enright, Donal Ryan, Niall Breslin, Sara Baume and Louise O’ Neill were some of the winning authors named at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards held in Dublin this month. Renowned Irish American novelist JP Donleavy was presented with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award. Adding his congratulations to his friend “Mike” Donleavy by video-link, was Hollywood megastar Johnny Depp, who is producing and reportedly starring in, a film version of Donleavy’s 1955 novel, The Ginger Man. Bestselling author Bill Bryson was the recipient of the Bord Gáis Energy International Recognition Award, a special award made to international authors who have contributed substantially to the health and wealth of the Irish book-trade. The full list of winners can be found here:

The poet Andrew McMillan has won the 2015 Guardian first book award with his collection of poems, Physical. McMillan is the first poet to win the £10,000 prize since it began in 1999, replacing the Guardian fiction prize with an award open to debuts of any genre. McMillan joins a roster of winners including Zadie Smith, Chris Ware, Yiyun Li and last year’s winner, Colin Barrett.

The shortlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 has been announced. Established in 2010, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature awards a prize of US $50,000 for the best work in fiction to one author from any ethnicity or nationality provided they write about South Asia and its people. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 shortlist comprises: Akhil Sharma: Family Life (Faber & Faber, UK), Anuradha Roy: Sleeping on Jupiter (Hachette, India), R. Meera: Hang Woman (Translated by J Devika; Penguin, India), Mirza Waheed: The Book of Gold Leaves (Viking/Penguin India), Neel Mukherjee: The Lives of Others (Vintage/Penguin Random House, UK), and Raj Kamal Jha: She Will Build Him A City (Bloomsbury, India). This year, the winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be announced at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, on 16th January 2016.

Have a great month and all the best for a very happy holiday. Thank you for sharing your love of reading with me in 2015!

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Congratulations to Nadia Ghent, who won a copy of Like Family by Paolo Giordano.

Congratulations to Patricia Hill, who won a copy of Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me from Myself by Julie Barton.

Congratulations to Robin Rabie who won a copy of Wait for Signs by Craig Johnson

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nick Decker. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Otto”.

We also have a copy of The Moment by Achim Nowak to giveaway. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Moment”.

We also have a copy of The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith to giveaway. To win, send me an email with your postal address and the subject line “Fox and Star”.

Finally, we have a copy of Not Black and White by G. A. Beller to giveaway. To win, send me an email with your postal address and the subject line “Not Black and White”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of Like Family by Paolo Giordano, The Last Wife of Attilla the Hun by Joan Schweighardt, Cloudless by Christine Evans (with an interview at the radio show), Everyday Epic by Anna Kerdijk Nicholson, an interview with Justin Isis, author of Welcome to the Arms Race, 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 Martin Langford, author of Finding Love. To listen, visit the showpage or you can listen directly from the site widget (middle of the right hand side).

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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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