Compulsive Reader

The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 19, Issue 3, 1 March 2017

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Hello readers. Here is the latest batch of reviews:

A review of Lucky Or Not Here I Come by Gerry Orz

Lucky Or Not, Here I Come is the debut novel of Gerry Orz, written when he was just fifteen years old. Immediately the reader can see that Orz is a storyteller who keeps his audience engaged and involved. These attributes also translate well into his ventures in filmmaking. Read more:

A review of Loose Ends by Caroline Taylor

You can call Loose Ends social commentary, a mystery to be solved, a psychological thriller, an escape novel for the novel, and even a comedy of errors. While it’s a serious situation both women are in now and were in when they were growing up temporarily in El Salvador, there’s a comedic lining. Read more:

A review of The Measure of the Moon by Lisa Preston

Preston crafts a parallel mystery that keeps the reader turning pages. What’s the link between these two characters? They appear to have nothing in common and are leading completely unrelated lifestyles. Gillian is an insulated city girl focused on her career and making a half-hearted attempt to save her crumbling marriage; Greer’s family is urban, outdoorsy, close-knit, and protective of each other. Read more:

A review of Mallee Boys by Charlie Archbold

The layout of the book uses an alternating overlap method of depicting each brother’s experiences and the reader easily acclimatises to this pattern. Before long you are drawn right into the surroundings and share in the understandings of three males who are set adrift without a matriarch to steer their lives. Read more:

A review of Rome: A History in Seven Sackings by Matthew Kneale

Kneale’s two-millennium travel guide has enlightened my understanding on everything Roman, and this experience will remain within my mind indefinitely. This excellent book delivers a century-by-century account of Rome’s inhabitants, their commercial and cultural challenges along with endless religious disruptions and several sieges commencing with the Battle of Allia by the Gauls (Celts). Read more:

An interview with Alan Alda

Alan Alda is an award-winning actor known for his portrayal of the iconic character Hawkeye Pierce on the popular television series M.A.S.H., and as host of the PBS series “Scientific American Frontiers,” as well as his many movie and Broadway roles. In this revealing interview, Alan focuses mostly on his new book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? but also explores the writing process, his reading habits, communication as a whole, the relationship between writing scripts, acting, and writing nonfiction, and much more. Read more:

A review of Little Me by Matt Lucas

There’s a graciousness and respect that underlies all of the stories in this book. Little Me creates the feeling that the reader is being taken into a very relaxed confidence, in which we get to hear the juicy backstage details as if they were being whispered to us over a cup of tea. Obviously this is a book that will be far more enjoyable for fans than for those who have never seen Matt Lucas’ work – there are a lot of references to his shows, and reading about the processes behind the shows is definitely part of the enjoyment of this gentle, self-deprecating, sometimes slapstick, but always moving memoir. Read more:

A review of Never Completely Awake by Martina Reisz Newberry

er poetry is universal in its ability to resonate with her audience. The writing is uncompromising and passionate. Her words are clothed in her experiences: rich and very human. Newberry writes with courage and a refreshing and welcoming honesty. I make no excuses for gushing over her work, it’s deserving of my every gush. You don’t read Martina Reisz Newberry, you experience her. Read more:

An interview with Idelle Kursman

The author of True Mercy talks about her new novel, writing about human trafficking, autism, her writing background, her influences, self-publishing, and lots more. Read more:

A review of North and Central by Bob Hartley

The choppy, lean writing strikes me as a guy’s kind of writing, but I do love some quirky humor sprinkled throughout. Two cheap Santas fight for the right to be in Andy’s bar and another time two wobbly octogenarians punch it out for the woman they love and the hubby shatters the other’s dentures. Defeated the toothless gent totters up to the bar to ask for a beer and is told “no teeth, no beer!” 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 2,209!), which can be browsed or searched from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, Melbourne-based writer Sarah Krasnostein has won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature for her first book, The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster (Text Publishing) at this year’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. The biography of trauma cleaner Sandra Pankhurst was also awarded the $25,000 nonfiction prize. The winning titles in each category are: Fiction: Australia Day (Melanie Cheng, Text), Nonfiction: The Trauma Cleaner (Sarah Krasnostein, Text), Poetry: Argosy (Bella Li, Vagabond Press), Young adult: Living on Hope Street (Demet Divaroren, A&U), Drama: Rice (Michele Lee, Playlab), and People’s Choice Award: Ida (Alison Evans, Echo). The winner of each category is awarded $25,000 and winner of the people’s choice award is awarded $2000.

The poet and author Helen Dunmore, who died in June 2017, has been awarded the Costa book of the year for her final poetry collection, Inside the Wave. Dunmore, who died last year aged 64, is only the second posthumous winner of the book of the year category in the prize’s history, after her fellow poet Ted Hughes won for Birthday Letters in 1998, and only the eighth poetry collection to take the top award. Winner of the first Orange prize for women’s fiction with her novel A Spell of Winter, Dunmore was critically acclaimed for her 12 novels and 10 poetry collections. One of the bestselling authors of 2017, Dunmore’s last novel, Birdcage Walk, was published three months before her death. A further collection of unpublished short stories, titled Girl, Balancing, will be published in June 2018.

Barnes & Noble announced the six finalists for the 2017 Discover Great New Writers Awards. Winners in each category will receive a $30,000 prize and a full year of promotion from B&N. Runner-up authors get $15,000, and third-place $7,500. Winners will be announced March 7 in New York City. The finalists are for Fiction, The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (Grove/Atlantic), The Leavers by Lisa Ko (Algonquin), and Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (McSweeney’s). For Nonfiction, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty (Amistad Press/HarperCollins), Down City: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Memory, and Murder by Leah Carroll (Grand Central), and Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder (Norton).

The €20,000 EBRD Literature Prize, launched by the British Council and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has revealed its inaugural shortlist, including titles from Turkey, Croatia, Russia, Albania and Lebanon. Launched in 2017, the prize will be awarded to the year’s best work of literary fiction translated into English and originally written in any language of the EBRD’s 37 countries of operations, coming from a UK publisher. The six shortlisted titles are All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin (translated by Andrew Bromfield from Russian, Weidenfeld & Nicolson), Belladonna by Daša Drndic (translated by Celia Hawkesworth from Croatian, Maclehose/ Quercus), The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare (translated by John Hodgson from Albanian, Penguin), The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (translated by Ekin Oklap from Turkey, Faber & Faber), Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez (translated by Ümit Hussein from Turkish, Telegram Books), and Maryam: Keeper of Stories by Alawiya Sobh (translated by Nirvana Tanoukhi from Arabic, Seagull Books).

A 12-book longlist has been announced for the £30,000 (about $42,370) International Dylan Thomas Prize, which is sponsored by Swansea University and recognizes the “best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under.” This year’s list features eight novels, two short story collections and two volumes of poetry. A shortlist will be released in March, and a winner unveiled May 10. The longlisted titles are: Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ, Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi, When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy, The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney, Her Body and Other Parties Carmen Mby aria Machado, Elmet by Fiona Mozley, First Love by Gwendoline Riley, Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney, Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent, Attrib. and Other Stories by Eley Williams, and On Trust: A Book of Lies by James Womack.

A longlist has been released for the A$50,000 (about US$39,090) Stella Prize, which recognizes and celebrates Australian women writers’ contribution to literature. The judges said the list “reflects the sheer volume of high-quality books that are being published in Australia. What a cornucopia of literary riches! As judges we were impressed with the strength of submissions from so many fine writers. The value of the book as artifact was evident in the attention publishers and designers invest to make books attractive to read and to hold in our hands. Noticeable was the caliber of books from small publishers as is reflected in our longlist.” The shortlist will be announced in March and a winner named in April. View the Stella Prize longlist including the judges report here:

Patricia Smith’s Incendiary Art (TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press) won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, presented by Claremont Graduate University for a single book of poetry by a mid-career poet. She will be honored during a ceremony and reading April 19 at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. The award includes a weeklong residency at CGU in the fall. In addition, Donika Kelly is the recipient of the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which recognizes a first volume by a poet of promise, for Bestiary (Graywolf Press).

A shortlist has been released for the 2018 Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Color, which honors “the quality and variety of work by writers of color in contemporary Britain.” The winner will be announced March 15. This year’s all-woman judging panel includes the prize co-founder and panel chair Sunny Singh, Catherine Johnson, Tanya Byrne, Vera Chok and Noo Saro-Wiwa. The Jhalak Prize shortlisted titles are: The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam, Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Once Upon a Time in the East by Xiaolu Guo, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy, and The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Finally, poet Layli Long Soldier’s debut collection, Whereas (Graywolf Press), was honored with the $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award at Tuesday night’s PEN America Literary Awards ceremony in New York City. The judges called Whereas a “grand reckoning with language and history,” and praised the author for her “elegant and fierce introspection” and “rectifying spirit of restless invention.” Other award winners announced at the event included: PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (Lenny), PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), PEN/Bograd Weld Prize for Biography ($5,000): Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell (Doubleday), PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing ($10,000): The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris (Scientific American/FSG), PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), PEN/Open Book Award: A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo (Hachette), PEN Translation Prize: Katalin Street by Magda Szabó, translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix, and the PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000): Fantasmario by Javier Viveros

Have a great month!



Congratulations to Cathy Wilcox, who won a copy of Hard Dog to Kill by Craig Holt.

Our new site giveaway is for copy of Prisms, Particles, and Refractions by Carol Smallwood. To enter the giveaway, send me an email at with the subject line “Prisms” and your postal address.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of Minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, Incredible Floridas by Stephen Orr, All the Women in My Family Sing edited by ZZ Packer, 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 Jennifer Maiden’s Q&A and Appalachian Fall book launch recorded live at Macleans Booksellers. To listen, visit the show page or you can listen directly from the site widget (right hand side of the site).

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(c) 2018 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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