Compulsive Reader

The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 17, Issue 11, 1 Nov 2016



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

Wham! Bam! and a dose of Shazam! ~ the lady lives to JAM: an Interview with Tanya Evanson

She does her part in feisty, tender, wild poems, in music, song, turning and building or sharing spaces for others to express. Tanya Evanson, in full flight, on stage and in interview, is a physical thrill. “Sometimes on stage, between offering the work, I turn into the audience too, I say, ‘It’s ok. Ok. Put your phone down. Just rest a while. Close your eyes.’ That can feel dangerous to some of us, but here is the secret language, and thirty seconds of sweet nothing can provide wonderful things.” For the full interview visit:

A review of Tongue Screw by Heather Derr-Smith

The recurring themes of this brilliantly haunting collection run a powerful range, from tragedy and trauma to innocence and carnal desire. Derr-Smith offers an intimate, unyieldingly honest account of her life and experiences. The subjects, the lines, the words all scream truth. Often brutally. Often beautifully. Her themes and approach leave a lasting impression. Read more:

Interview with Andrew Joyce

Andrew Joyce joins us again to talk about his new novel Yellow Hair, about the importance of research, some of the mistakes he’s made along the way, the difference in how he’s approached his books, on writing historical fiction, on immersing himself in the Sioux culture, and more. For the full interview visit:

Divine Residues: A review of Mean Numbers by Ian Ganassi

Contradiction and absurdity reign freely, and non sequiturs pop up out of the blue, each fetched further than the last, as if the poet were striving for the most unlikely next line ever to come out of left field. The effect is to loosen up the reader’s consciousness and allow her to gaze into an open-ended world of expansive possibilities. It’s a wild world, where sense and nonsense are on an equal footing, but she soon finds that the poet has left a trail of delectible crumbs to follow. Read more:

A review of On the Blue Train by Kristel Thornell

Kristel Thornell has roll-played Agatha’s creativity and expression to perfection and delivers an excellent discourse of the famous crime writers’ intercourse with her acquaintances. Flashbacks enrich the pages and regularly remind me of her once read autobiography. The method used was very inventive, for example while partaking a Turkish bath some memories of her childhood are released and I’m overjoyed to find ‘Auntie-Grannie,’ ‘Nursie’ and the ‘Gunman’ unexpectedly arrive. For the full review visit:

A review of Shibboleth & Other Stories edited by Laurie Steed

An outstanding collection of short stories makes up this book of the Margaret River Short Story Competition for 2016. It is sponsored by Margaret River Press, who believe the ‘short story genre is greatly undervalued’, according to their website. The competition has been run since 2011, producing five published collections so far, with the 2017 competition having just recently closed for submissions. Read more:

A review of Engraft By Michele Seminara

The landscape of Seminara’s poetry is often domestic – home life, motherhood, abusive relatives, relationships, aging, and illness, but there is also magical realism, shapeshifting, sublimated desire, and a range of literary influences that come through the found poems, centos, erasures and remixes. The poetry plays with metapoetic themes, with traditional rhyme schemes and rhythms, and are self-referential in a post-modern way. For the full review visit:

A review of The Reason for Time by Mary Burns

Burns’s novel is set in Chicago in 1919. Her choice of poem to quote at the beginning and set the tone for the story is inspired. “Working Girls”, by Carl Sandburg, is about the “river of young woman-life” in that city, as factory and office girls headed off to work each morning. He contrasts the “green” stream of young innocent energy with the “gray” stream of more experienced women who say, “I know where the bloom and laughter go, and I have memories.” Read more:

A review of Letter to Pessoa by Michelle Cahill

Though each of the pieces works well individually, taken collectively, Letter to Pessoa presents a multifaceted world that builds new linguistic spaces through correspondence and conjunction. By blurring the distinctions between author and narrator/narration, reader/writer/voyeur, past/present, and even life/death, Cahill has created an exciting and powerful collection that continues to shift, change and reveal new insight with each re-reading. For the full review visit:

Interview with Laurence Kilpatrick from Pigeonhole

Editorial Assistant Laurence Kilpatrick talks about The Pigeonhole, a unique electronic reading platform, including how it came about, what it offers that other readers don’t, how the books are chosen, which types of book work best, the next big development, tips for readers, and more. 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 2,005 reviews!), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, an international jury has announced that Shanghai novelist Wang Anyi is the winner of the fifth Newman Prize for Chinese Literature. Prof. Wang, who currently teaches at Fudan University, is the second woman to be named a Newman laureate, and the third writer from mainland China. The Newman Prize is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for US-China Issues, is awarded every other year in recognition of outstanding achievement in prose or poetry that best “captures the human condition.” It is given solely on the basis of literary merit: any living author writing in Chinese is eligible. Wang Anyi will receive US$10,000, a commemorative plaque, and a bronze medallion.

American author Paul Beatty has won the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The Sellout. In a starred review Publishers Weekly called the novel a “droll, biting look at racism in modern America,” and selected it as one of its Best Books of 2015. Beatty is the first American author to win the prize, and its attendant £50,000 purse, since it was expanded in 2014 to include books by authors born outside of the U.K. and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The shortlist for the £10,000 (about $13,015) Goldsmiths Prize, which honors fiction that “breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form,” consists of Transit by Rachel Cusk, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, and Martin John And Other Stories by Anakana Schofield. The winner will be announced on November 9.

The finalists of the 2016 National Book Awards have been announced. For fiction, the shortlisted titles include, for fiction, The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder (Norton), News of the World by Paulette Jiles (Morrow), The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (Viking), The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday), Better Than Renting Out a Windowless Room: The Blessed Distraction of Technology, and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (Amistad). For poetry, titles are The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky (Brooklyn Arts Press), Collected Poems 1974–2004 by Rita Dove (Norton), Archeophonics by Peter Gizzi (Wesleyan), Friendly Ghosts: Peter Gizzi, The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler (McSweeney’s), and Look by Solmaz Sharif (Graywolf)

The 109th Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan at a ceremony on October 13, for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” This is the first time an American has won the Nobel Prize in Literature since it was awarded to Toni Morrison in 1993, and the first time it has been awarded to a songwriter or lyricist. The debate continues to rage online, even now that Dylan has finally stated that he will be accepting the award. Meanwhile, some of us who love his music got the excuse to listen to his entire oeuvre on an endless loop in the guise of celebration.

Bangladeshi publisher and writer Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, who is also known as Tutul, was named winner of the International Writer of Courage award by English PEN’s Pinter Prize winner Margaret Atwood, the Guardian reported. The award is shared with a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs, selected by the winner in consultation with English PEN’s Writers at Risk committee. Tutul is a publisher, writer and editor who founded Shuddhashar magazine and publishing house in Dhaka, where he promoted progressive work from Bangladeshi writers and bloggers.

Cordelia Strube won the C$10,000 (about US$7,600) Toronto Book Award‚ recognizing titles evocative of the city, for her novel On the Shores of Darkness‚ There is Light, Quillblog reported. The prize is administered annually by the city and the Toronto Public Library.

Carmel Bird won the A$20,000 Patrick White Literary Award (which White created with his own Nobel prize win – hint hint Dylan), which recognizes authors who “have made a significant but inadequately recognized contribution to Australian literature,” Books+Publishing reported. White established the prize in 1974 using proceeds from his 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature. Judging panel chair Bernadette Brennan said Bird had “contributed widely and uniquely to Australian literature since her first book in 1976…. Carmel has since gone on to publish 30 more books–her imagination is extraordinarily wide-ranging and her fiction consequently creates a world that criss-crosses textual, intellectual and geographical boundaries.”

Bodo Kirchhoff has won the 2016 German Book Prize for his novel Encounter (Widerfahrnis), Publishing Perspectives reported. The €25,000 (about $27,520) prize is awarded annually on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair by the Börsenverein (the German book trade association) to honor “German-language literature and bring international attention to authors writing in German.” Encounter was published by Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt in September.

The shortlist for the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards has been announced. This year’s shortlist features both emerging writers and established award-winning authors. The list features stories and poetry, books about history and key characters in Australian life, and stories that promise to engage young readers. Now in their ninth year, the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards recognise the best of Australian writing in fiction, non-fiction, Australian history, young adult fiction, children’s fiction and poetry. The shortlisted books were selected by expert judging panels from 425 entries. Up to $100,000 is awarded in each category, with $80,000 for each winning entry and $5,000 each for each shortlisted entry. All prizes are tax-free. The 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlist for fiction are: Forever Young, Steven Carroll (HarperCollins Publishers), The Life of Houses, Lisa Gorton (Giramondo), The World Repair Video Game, David Ireland AM (Island Magazine Inc., Quicksand, Steve Toltz (Penguin), and The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin). For poetry, Net Needle, Robert Adamson (Black Inc), Cocky’s Joy, Michael Farrell (Giramondo), The Hazards, Sarah Holland-Batt (University of Queensland Press), Waiting for the Past, Les Murray AO (Black Inc.), and The Ladder, Simon West (Puncher & Wattmann). For the full list visit:

Zoë Morrison has won the 2016 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction for her debut novel, Music and Freedom. Readings, which has seven shops in Melbourne, Australia, described the book this way: “Set over a period of 70 years, Music and Freedom is a profound and moving portrait of one woman’s life, ranging from rural Australia in the 1930s to England in the modern day. The Prize judges were united in considering the novel a sophisticated and intelligent work of fiction.”

The shortlist has been unveiled for the £20,000 (about $24,460) T.S. Eliot Prize. The Bookseller reported that 2016 is the first year the prize has been administered by the T.S. Eliot Foundation, which took over the running of the award “following the closing of the Poetry Book Society, the charity which established the prize in 1993 and ran it for 23 years, in June.” The winner will be announced January 16. This year’s shortlisted titles are: Void Studies by Rachael Boast, The Blind Road-Maker by Ian Duhig, Jackself by Jacob Polley, Say Something Back by Denise Riley, The Remedies by Katharine Towers, Interference Pattern by J.O. Morgan, Falling Awake by Alice Oswald, Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo, The Seasons of Cullen Church by Bernard O’Donoghue, and Every Little Sound by Ruby Robinson.

Finally, Oxford University Press has announced that its new edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare will credit Christopher Marlowe as a co-author on the three Henry VI plays. Despite years of controversy about the authorship of some of Shakespeare’s work, this is the first time a major publishing house has formally named Marlowe as a co-author. The new Oxford edition, which will be available in November, was edited by four Shakespeare scholars: Gary Taylor of Florida State University, John Jowett of the University of Birmingham, Terri Bourus of Indiana University and Gabriel Egan of De Montfort University.

Have a great month!



The Adventures of Fawn series

The series is a ‘coming of age’ tale set in the year 1849. It tells of the adventures of Fawn, the precocious young daughter of legendary reindeer, Comet and Vixen. Initially, she has no friends and spends her days alone in the stable at Santa’s Village. She argues with her parents…wanting the freedom to go outside the Village to explore. But her parents forbid her to go outside by herself. Declaring, “I don’t care how dangerous it is…I want some fun and excitement!” Fawn starts sneaking out each day. She makes friends quite readily, but just as quickly finds herself in dangerous situations. her many exploits teach her valuable lessons about life, and herself. The series also offers some colorful, imaginative descriptions of life and work in Santa’s Village.




Congratulations to Denise Carlson, who won a copy of Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Unlikely Companions LThe Adventures of an Exotic Animal Doctor (or, What Friends Feathered, Furred, and Scaled Have Taught Me about Life and Love) by Laurie Hess. To win, To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Unlikely Companions”.

We also have a copy of The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Purman to giveaway. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “The Three Miss Allens”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of The Writer’s Room by Charlotte Wood, Panic Attack by Jason Starr, The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley, Fitting In by Colin Thompson, Fresh Air and Empty Street by Oliver Cable, 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 Michelle Cahill, who reads from and talks about her book (reviewed this month) Letter to Pessoa.

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 via iTunes 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.

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