Compulsive Reader

The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 18, Issue 9, 1 September 2017



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

A review of LopLop in a Red City by Kenneth Pobo

The flight motif is also apparent and points to the necessity of progress (as in becoming a better self). This advice at first glance is self-evident, something that we all, or most of us, already know. But there is depth to Pobo’s poetry and that is why it is worth subsequent glances. Read more:

An interview with Joe Treasure

The author of The Book of Air talks about his new book and his inspiration, about writing dystopias, about his fictional world, about why he included Jane Eyre in his book, about his protagonists, top tips for budding authors, and more. Read more:

A review of The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain

The Museum of Words is a story about language and how it’s able to move between and beyond the constriction of time. At one point, Blain talks about the light coming in – a dawning awareness of the privilege of life. In this The Museum of Words is a universal story which encompasses all of our frailty and impending demise and encourages all of us to be grateful for the little time we have. Read more:

Interview with Mary Barnet

The founder and Editor-in-Chief of talks about the magazine and her role as editor, her career and many accomplishments, her influences, on the value of the internet, advice, and lots more. Read more:

A review of The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy

Percy’s skill as a novelist shines throughout The Dark Net. Each of his quirky, yet believable, characters are given interesting backgrounds and compelling motivations. The story is fast-paced, action-packed, and—at more junctures than I could count—intense to a delightfully uncomfortable degree. Read more:

A review of A Miscellany of Diverse Things by Philip Kobylarz

Many of the poems in the collection challenge the identity of the object in question. A loaf of bread becomes spies wearing raincoats, soap becomes dirty, and maps become the very cause of being lost. The dichotomous nature of the writing allows one to ponder about how the identity of something changes as it finishes its assigned purpose. Read more:

A review of Z213: EXIT by Dimitris Lyacos

Dimitris Lyacos’ Z213: EXIT is a revelation. A masterpiece. Distinctly postmodern yet entirely unclassifiable, it is everything and nothing all at once. Despite the myriad references to literature, it is entirely new – I have never read anything like it, and this stunning translation is truly head-spinning. Read more:

An interview with Tess Gerritsen

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen drops by to talk about her new book I Know a Secret including her inspiration and characters, about writing a series, about writing autopsy and crime scenes, about working in multiple genres, her influences, work-in-progress, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Datsunland by Stephen Orr

This selection of short stories concluding with the major work “Datsunland” is beautifully written by a literary craftsman. They take the reader through and within the landscape of South Australia’s unique ecosystem, into places tinged and contaminated with saturnine and fateful conclusions. As I searched through the pages I found myself trapped within a boiled down distillation of this state’s home-style miseries and heartbreaks. Read more:

A review of The Bookshop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry

Novels about girlhood friends reuniting as adults and reinventing their relationship are always popular. In The Book Shop at Water’s End by Patti Callahan Henry, the “summer sisters” are Bonny and Lainey, now in their fifties, who have kept in touch since their three pre-teen summers at Watersend, South Carolina, in the 1970s. As the story opens, Bonny is about to leave her domineering husband and her job as an Emergency Room doctor in Charleston, SC for a better position in Atlanta, GA. Read more:

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 2,142!), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, Creative New Zealand has announced winners of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement, each of whom will receive NZ$60,000 (about US$43,705) “in recognition of their outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature.” This year’s winners are internationally renowned Māori novelist Witi Ihimaera (fiction), literary historian and fine arts writer Peter Simpson (nonfiction) and popular poet and children’s author Paula Green (poetry). In addition, the NZ$100,000 (about US$72,845) Michael King Writer’s Fellowship, which is given annually “for a project that will take two or more years to complete,” went to author and composer Dr. Philip Norman “to complete a lifetime of work studying New Zealand classical music identifying influential composers, works and performances, and tracing key developments through the decades.”

A year after NK Jemisin became the first black person to win the Hugo award for best novel, the African American author has landed the prestigious science fiction prize for the second year running. Jemisin was announced as the winner of the best novel Hugo at Worldcon in Helsinki on Friday. She took the prize, which is voted for by fans, for The Obelisk Gate, the follow-up to her Hugo award-winning novel The Fifth Season. The series is set in a world that is constantly threatened by seismic activity, and where the mutants who can control the environment are oppressed by humans. The New York Times called Jemisin’s writing in the series “intricate and extraordinary”.

Eimear McBride, who won the Baileys prize in 2014 for a first novel which had struggled to find a publisher, has taken Britain’s oldest literary award, the £10,000 James Tait Black fiction prize. Judge Dr Alex Lawrie, of the University of Edinburgh, called The Lesser Bohemians an “astonishing second novel” which is “full of wit, energy and nerve”. Won by names from EM Forster to DH Lawrence, the James Tait Black prizes for fiction and biography have a history that stretches back to 1919. More than 400 titles were submitted for this year’s prizes, with a shortlist chosen by University of Edinburgh academics and postgraduate students. The £10,000 prize for biography, which counts Lytton Strachey, John Buchan and Antonia Fraser among its former winners, was won by the Observer’s art critic Laura Cumming for The Vanishing Man.

A longlist of 13 novels has been released for the $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which aims to bring “South Asian writing to a larger global audience through rewarding and showcasing the achievements of the authors writing about this region.” This year’s longlist represents a mix of established writers and debut novelists from different backgrounds and areas, including seven authors from India, three from Pakistan, two from Sri Lanka and one American living in India. The shortlist will be announced September 27, and a winner named November 18 at a special award ceremony during the Dhaka Literary Festival. The 2017 longlisted titles are: The Living by Anjali Joseph, The Parcel by Anosh Irani, The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam, Selection Day by Aravind Adiga, The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons by Ashok Ferrey, South Haven by Hirsh Sawhney, The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan, The Poison of Love by K.R. Meera, translated by Ministhy S., The Party Worker by Omar Shahid Hamid, Pyre by Perumal Murugan, translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, This Wide Night by Sarvat Hasin, Those Children by Shahbano Bilgrami, and In the Jungles of the Night by Stephen Alter.

Jorie Graham has received the Wallace Stevens Award for “proven mastery” in poetry, a lifetime achievement award of $100,000. Graham’s books include the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Dream of the Unified Field.” The $25,000 Academy of American Poets Fellowship went to Ed Roberson and the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize was given to Patrick Rosal for his collection “Brooklyn Antediluvian.” The Marshall prize honors the best book of the previous year. Thomas E. Peterson won a $25,000 translation prize for his work on the poetry of Italian writer Franco Fortini. Sam Sax’s “Bury It” won a $5,000 prize for best second book of poetry.

The finalists for the 2017 Thurber Prize for American Humor are: Trevor Noah, for Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Spiegel & Grau), Ken Pisani, for Amp’d: A Novel (St. Martin’s Press), and Aaron Thier, for Mr. Eternity (Bloomsbury USA). The award will be presented on October 2 at a ceremony at Carolines on Broadway in New York City. The winner of the Prize receives $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and is invited to Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio as a featured guest at a special event.

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Andrea L. Stoeckel who won a copy of The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards.

Congratulations also to Anita Yancey who won a copy of The Book of Air by Joe Treasure – and I realise this is the second time we’ve given The Book of Air away.

Our new site giveaway is for copy of Crush: Stories about Love Edited by Simone Corletto. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Crush” and your postal address.

Good luck everybody!



Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction

These forty-three beautiful and moving short essays seem inspired by whatever is on Carol Smallwood’s mind — library visits, her daughter, the TV show Columbo, “Chick Lit,” or hardware stores. But they remind us that everything in life is a variation on a theme, a different shade in the same tapestry. “Wrought with hidden gems of striking description.” — Nicole M. Bouchard, editor, The Write Place At the Write Time




We will shortly be featuring reviews of The Choke by Sofie Laguna, The Island of Dreams by Gregory James Clark, Be Still the Water by Karen Emilson, an interview with Because of You’s Pip Harry, and lots more reviews, news, interviews, and giveaways.


(c) 2017 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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