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The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 16, Issue 11, 7th Nov 2015


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Literary News
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Hello readers. Here is the latest batch of reviews this month:

A review of An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown

An Android Awakes is an entertaining, sexy, terrifying, and beautiful novel, full of bleakness and fun. While the book is probably not going to suit the prudish or faint-hearted reader looking for an easy read, other readers will enjoy the rich and powerful language, the complex plot lines, and the wacky and inventive landscape that both French and Brown have created in this superb graphical novel. Read more:

Interview with Megan Futcher

The author of Fourborn Wind and Fire – a new fantasy book series talks about her writing habits, her love for fantasy, ebooks vs print books, traditional vs indie publishing, her ‘real life’ inspirations, her technologies, themes, and lots more. For full interview visit:

A review of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant is not an easy book. Its simple prose belies the complexity of the narrative, and the multiple layers of meaning as Ishiguro presents us with extremes that are equally unpalatable, and both of which could well be seen as the modern condition. At times, the fog is enough to engulf the reader, and the work seems to be as obscure in its meaning as the location of Beatrice and Axl’s son’s village. Read more:

A review of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder

To my mind, this is a clear, convincing and rounded account of the Holocaust, the best we have had to date. Snyder makes telling use of Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian sources and he also pays meticulous attention to what the Nazis themselves wrote and said. The result is a context and a narrative in which – and, yes, it sounds almost immoral to say this – the Holocaust makes a kind of sense. For the full review visit:

A review of Macbeth directed by Justin Kurzel

Faced with the prospect of a dreary peace, Macbeth the triumphant warrior goes for the main prize: King Duncan’s crown. It is an exhilarating adaptation of Shakespeare’s great tragedy but I feel that the emphasis is sometimes misplaced or even absent. For example, Lady Macduff’s ‘I have done no harm’ speech, usually the most moving in the whole play, is delivered while she’s on the run from murderers. They can’t hear her, we wonder why she’s starting a conversation. Run faster, woman. Read more:

A review of Lists of Note by Sean Usher

Ultimately, what Lists of Note shows us is that we’re not alone in our desire to tame the rush of information, tasks, and needs that bombards us everyday. Listmaking is both rational and helpful in our chaotic lives and has always been so. More importantly, Lists of Note teaches us that the list, is more than ephemera. It is a key to who we are, and at its best, can actually be a beautiful, and even artistic medium. For the full review visit:

A review of IV (50 ‘I’ Statements) by Basil Eliades

Beyond the mistakes and the failings of humans, which are highlighted in these poems, there is something that redeems us. We can, and must, love, and transcend. IV is a collection poetry about the ephemeral nature of life, of pain, about how we learn, grow, become mindful/present/enlightened, and above all, about love. No matter how much we’ve severed, sutured, eluded and deconstructed, love is always transformative. Read more:

A review of Selected Poems by Milan Jesih

Jesih is from Slovenia. Natural aspects of this country, along with the author’s own thrust toward existential questions, serve to inform the poems in the book. He takes notes while walking, while reflecting, and brings the reader along for the journey. One gets the sense from his poetry that Jesih is a peripatetic wordsmith. For the full review visit:

A review of Ground by Martin Langford

Though the lessons that Langford presents through this work are harsh, the writing never falters. It is always lyrical, exquisite, and ultimately affirmative. Though there is nothing didactic about Ground, these are poems that teach us know to go on in the face of what we’ve done, through words, dance, sorrow, attention and ultimately love. Read more:

A review of Pasolini

It’s an uncompromising film by Abel Ferrara, quite in keeping with Pasolini’s own oeuvre, and he has made it in his own distinct way. Some scenes are straight forward, understated even, while others have a visionary quality. However, you always feel that Ferrara is in control of his material. 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, the nominees for the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize – a mix of short fiction, work-in-translation and books from Canada’s small-press community – were announced at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Toronto.   The books shortlisted are:

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, Rachel Cusk for her novel Outline, published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Heather O’Neill for her story collection Daydreams of Angels, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, and Anakana Schofield for her novel Martin John, published by A John Metcalf Book, an imprint of Biblioasis. The Scotiabank Giller Prize strives to highlight the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. The prize awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English and $10,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.

The Warwick Prize for Writing has announced its shortlist of six titles under consideration for the £25,000 biennial literary award. The prize, which is run by the University of Warwick, is uniquely international and cross-disciplinary award, open to any genre or form of writing. The theme for this year’s prize is ‘Instinct’. The shortlist, announced at a special event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival by judge Robert Macfarlane, is: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail), Her Birth by Rebecca Goss (Carcanet), Redeployment by Phil Klay (Canongate), A Man In Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Harvill Secker), Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Virago), and Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker (Chatto & Windus)

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who is in jail for “insulting Islam”, has won the Pen Pinter Prize for championing free speech. Mr Badawi is serving a 10-year sentence in Saudi Arabia and is due to receive 1,000 lashes. He shares the prize with British poet and journalist James Fenton. The award was established in 2009 in memory of playwright and Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter. Previous winners of the Pinter Prize include Tom Stoppard, Carol Ann Duffy, Hanif Kureishi and last year’s winner, Salman Rushdie.

Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian journalist, and author of the 2005 nonfiction book ‘Voices from Chernobyl,’ has won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy praised the author for her “polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

Jamaican author Marlon James has won the Man Booker Prize for his novel inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s. Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described A Brief History of Seven Killings as the “most exciting” book on the shortlist. James was announced as the winner of the £50,000 prize in London on Tuesday. He is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize. Receiving the award, he said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music.

The shortlist for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction writing has been announced. The six titles include Jonathan Bate’s Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life and Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks. A variety of genres, from journalism, philosophy and biography to memoir and science, feature in the shortlist. The £20,000 prize, described by organisers as the UK’s most prestigious of its type, was won last year by Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk.

Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma has won a 2015 FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Award for his debut novel The Fishermen. The FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards were launched this year by the Financial Times and OppenheimerFunds to “identify and reward talent among multiple countries and regions in the developing world”. This year, the awards recognised artists from Latin America and the Caribbean, filmmakers from Asia-Pacific and writers from Africa and the Middle East. The winners were Obioma, Yuhang Ho of Malaysia for his film Trespassed, and artist Cristina Planas of Peru.

Anne Michaels, acclaimed author of the novels Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault, has been named the new poet laureate for the city of Toronto. The appointed three-year position, which includes an annual C$10,000 honorarium, means that Toronto native Michaels will be the city’s advocate and ambassador for poetry and language.

Swedish-born debut author has won the Dundee International Book Prize. Martin Cathcart Froden will receive £10,000 and a publishing deal after his novel ‘Devil Take the Hindmost’ triumphed from a field of almost 500 candidates. Mr Froden, a creative writing student at Glasgow University, said he was “over the moon” to win the prize. The book is set in 1920s London, and is centred on a velodrome cyclist who gets caught up in the world of crime. The Dundee International Book Prize is a collaboration between Dundee University, publisher Freight Books and the city council’s One City, Many Discoveries campaign.

The shortlist for the £20,000 (about $30,940) 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize, administered by the Poetry Book Society and funded by the T.S. Eliot Estate, has been chosen. Chair Pascale Petit commented: “This is a fantastic year for poetry, with the highest amount of entries submitted in the history of the prize, and an exceptional number of outstanding collections, including many dazzling debuts. This made our task of choosing the shortlist tricky–many that didn’t make it are books we love. But we were unanimous about our final list, the books my distinguished fellow judges and I picked all awed and excited us with their ambition, verve and technical mastery.”

Australia’s newest literary award, the Richell prize for emerging writers, has been won by Sally Abbott for her manuscript, Closing Down. Abbott, a public relations director and former journalist who lives and writes in Castlemaine, Victoria, beat almost 1,000 other writers to the $10,000 prize, a year’s mentorship with Hachette Australia and publication of her work in the Guardian Australia. Also making the final five were Brodie Lancaster for No Way, Okay Fine, a chatty, pop culture-obsessed collection of essays; Jonathan O’Brien for &, an original take on the art novel; Lyndel Caffrey for Gun Club, a lyrical account of Australia at war; and Ellena Savage for But With Blood, a clear-eyed examination of power, privilege and race. The writers come from all across Australia, spanning an age range of 25 years.

Mathias Enard has won France’s Prix Goncourt for Boussole (Compass), the Bookseller reported, noting that while the prize money is only €10 (about $10.85), the win “almost guarantees” a boost in sales of the winning book. “I like a winning book that tells of the world in which we live,” said head of the jury Bernard Pivot.

Finally, Fremantle author Joan London has been awarded the 2015 Patrick White literary award for her ongoing contribution to Australian literature. Established by the late Australian author Patrick White, who set up a trust with the winnings of his 1973 Nobel prize for literature, this annual honour is bestowed on a writer of novels, short stories, poetry or plays who may not have received due recognition for his or her work.

Have a great month.


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Congratulations to Bonnie Capuano, who won a copy of the new Penguin Classics 200th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Jane Austen’s EMMA.

Congratulations to Jean Patton, who won a copy of The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne by M.L. Longworth.

Congratulations to Linda Sheehan, who won a copy of After You by JoJo Moyes.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Wait for Signs by Craig Johnson. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Signs”.

We also have a copy of LIKE FAMILY by Paolo Giordano to giveaway. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Family”.

We also have a copy of the Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me from Myself by Julie Barton to giveaway. To win, send me an email with your postal address and the subject line “Dog Medicine”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of M Train by Patti Smith, The Last Wife of Attilla the Hun by Joan Schweighardt, Everyday Epic by Anna Kerdijk Nicholson, 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 Ground. 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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