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The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 15, Issue 10, 1 October 2014


New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Survey News
Competition New
Coming soon

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

A review of Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell

Vienna Nocturne is outstanding, as well, because of Shotwell’s knowledge of opera. As a professional singer, a mezzo-soprano, she knows how a singer feels as she or he stands before an audience, and she can also put musical effects into words. When Anna first sings the role of Susanna, she has “the sensation of balancing a ball on her nose like a bear at a circus.” Read more:

An Interview with James Curcio

The author of Party At The World’s End talks about his book, his inspiration, about genres, his influences, current projects, his greatest challenges, his covers, and lots more. For the full interview visit:

A review of The End my Friend by Kirby Wright

The first two or three chapters have a distinctively “real” feel. But then, the author does something with his characters which some readers may not like. The story, which had felt like a mainstream novel suddenly becomes a bit stylized. Not entirely, but a bit. The characters speak and do things that characters in a noir novel might do. Think Mad Max meets Sin City. It’s not a bad thing, and it certainly will not mar the book for those who like hip larger-than-life characters. Read more:

A review of The Sea Replied: Poems by Damien Firth
Another writer expressed “deepest gratitude” to Firth “for having left the legacy of his poetry as a comfort and a guide.” Although not wealthy in the world’s terms, Damien Firth had a rich inner life, imagination and vocabulary, and was also rich in friends, who performed this labour of love and made his poetry available to the public. For the full review visit:

A review of You and Me, Baby by Lynn Reiser and Penny Gentieu
Magnificent prints of charismatic and engaging babies as well as their parents representing diverse cultures are used to generate an appealing picture book depicting outsized, full page, graphic of a toddler and parent as they interact with smiles, loving glances and the delight of enjoyment of babyhood generally found concerning parents and their children. Read more:

A review of The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
There is no easy answer here but the key lies in what he calls the habit loop: a cue leading to a routine (the learned behaviour itself) in order to obtain a reward. Belief is also important: the belief that you really can change, if you put your mind to it. Belief enables you to overcome the inevitable crises and avoid relapse. For the full review visit:

A review of Going Indigo by Sam North

Sam North also achieves the virtually impossible by treating the subject of auras, ghosts and fortune-telling seriously and intelligently. It could all too easily become a shallow ghost story or cliched horror novel. His colloquial, matter-of-fact style is something to do with the reason it isn’t, but it is more than that. Read more:

A review of The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight and Terrence Tasker

Slaight’s poetry works perfectly with Terrence Tasker’s dark charcoal images. The pictures convey angry masks, faces, slightly abstract, timeless. The book was originally produced in the 1970s, and has been dedicated to Tasker, who passed away in 1992. The book itself is an exquisite artefact – something to keep and re-read. Though the poetry isn’t pleasant, it’s powerful, evocative and uncovers a universal vein of anguish that will resonate with all readers. For the full review visit:

A review of Risk Savvy By Gerd Gigerenzer
The thrust of the book is that you can use such straightforward rules to cope with and take control of almost any real-world situation, from choosing how to invest your money, to picking a spouse, to deciding what to order from a restaurant menu. For the full review visit:

A Conversation with Stuart Rojstaczer
The author of The Mathematician’s Shiva talks about his inspirations, how he came to fiction writing from a background in science, about the appeal of stories about academic life, about the autobiographical elements of the book, about the balance between comedy and tragedy, his characters, history and memory, and lots more. For the full interview visit:

All of the reviews listed above available at The Compulsive Reader on the first and second pages. Older reviews are kept indefinitely in our extensive categorized archives, which can be browsed from the front page of the site. If you’re a chess player, we’ve got one of the best collection of chess related book reviews on the Internet. Drop by here for a full listing:


In the literary news this month, the winners of the 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards have been named. Given annually to six women writers, the prize honors those who “demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers.” Each winner received $30,000. The 2014 winners are Olivia Clare (fiction), Karen Hays (nonfiction), Danielle Jones-Pruett (poetry),T.L. Khleif (fiction), Mara Naselli (nonfiction), and Solmaz Sharif (poetry). For more information, including Individual biographies of the winners, click here:

Liam McIlvanney’s Where the Dead Men Go won the NZ$1000 (about US$830) Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, which honors the best crime, mystery or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident, Books+Publishing reported.

The shortlist for the annual $10,000 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, sponsored by the Center for Fiction, formerly known as the Mercantile Library, is The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (Harper), Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (Ecco), The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (Grove Press), The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko (Penguin Press), Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books), The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson (Little, Brown), We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (Simon & Schuster). The short-listed writers will read from their books on December 8 at the Center for Fiction, and the 2014 winner will be announced on December 9 at the Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner.

PEN Center USA, a literary nonprofit based in Beverly Hills, is proud to announce the winners of The 24th Annual Literary Awards, honoring the best writing in the western United States. The winning writers, whose submissions were judged by distinguished panels of writers, editors, critics and journalists, will take home one thousand dollar cash prizes. The 2014 award winners include: Gretel Ehrlich (Creative Nonfiction Award for Facing The Wave); Octavio Solis (Drama Award for Se Llama Cristina); Lindsay Hill (Fiction Award for Sea Of Hooks); Craig Malisow (Journalism Award for Deadly Charades); Victoria Chang (Poetry Award for The Boss); Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (Research Nonfiction Award for Dallas 1963); Ben Coccio (Screenplay Award for The Place Beyond the Pines); Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham (Teleplay Award for Girls “Together”); Wayne A. Rebhorn (Translation Award for The Decameron); and Margarita Engle (Young Adult/Children Award for The Lighting Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist). The Graphic Literature Award winner and the recipient of the organization’s Award of Honor will be announced in the coming weeks.

The shortlist of seven works for the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize – the world’s biggest literary prize for young writers – has been announced. This year’s shortlist includes poetry, prose and drama and is comprised of an international mix of backgrounds, including England, Ireland, Jamaica and New Zealand. he 2014 shortlist is as follows: Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries , Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Kseniya Melnik, Snow in May, Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, Owen Sheers, Mametz, and Naomi Wood, Mrs Hemingway. The award – the winner of which receives a £30,000 prize – celebrates international excellence across all genres and is open to novels, short stories, poetry and drama.

The final shortlist of three writers has been approved by the Advisory Board for The $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited. This followed an initial shortlist of 11 which was released in July. The three shortlisted writers are Friday John Abba (Alekwu Night Dance), Jude Idada (Oduduwa, King of the Edos) and Sam Ukala (Iredi War).
The shortlist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which this year is open to writers in English around the world, is Joshua Ferris (U.S.) for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking), Richard Flanagan (Australian) for The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus), Karen Joy Fowler (U.S.) for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail), Howard Jacobson (British) for J (Jonathan Cape), Neel Mukherjee (British) for The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus), Ali Smith (British) for How to Be Both (Hamish Hamilton). The winner will be announced October 14.

Louise Erdrich has won the 2014 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. Sponsored by PEN American Center, the $25,000 award is presented biannually to a living American author whose “scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.” Judges Edwidge Danticat, Zadie Smith and E.L. Doctorow, commented: “Some writers work a small piece of land: Louise Erdrich is not one of those writers. Her work has an awesome capaciousness‹each person is a world. For Erdrich, the tale of the individual necessarily leads to the tale of the family, and families lead to nations, while the wound of a national injustice is passed down through the generations, expressing itself in intimate deformations, a heady intertwining of the national and the personal. Yet despite the often depressingly familiar, repetitive nature of so much human business, Erdrich’s eye is always fresh, her sentences never less than lyrical.”

The Poetry Book Society has released its once-in-a-decade list of Next Generation poets, which has in the past tipped names from Duffy and Armitage to Alice Oswald and Don Paterson for future success. The 20 poets are chosen only once every ten years and expected to dominate the poetry landscape of the coming decade. Women look set to lead the charge, making up 60 percent of the list, including: South London based performance poet Kate Tempest; Lucian Freud’s daughter, Annie Freud; the youngest ever T S Eliot Prize winner, Jen Hadfield; and five-time winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award, Helen Mort. At 27 years old, Tempest is the youngest of the 2014 cohort, while Freud is the list’s oldest at 66. The rare accolade – which in previous decades recognised the talents of Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage, Alice Oswald and Owen Sheers – aims to highlight emerging poets from the UK and Ireland who published their first collection of poetry within the last ten years. Also among the chosen 20 are 2009 Man Booker Prize shortlistee and Granta ‘Best Young Novelist’ Adam Foulds; Daljit Nagra, who has won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and has been shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award; and Sam Willetts, whose collection focuses on the years he spent homeless and addicted to heroin. For the full list visit:

The National Book Foundation is unveiling the longlists for the National Book Award this week. NBA finalists will be revealed October 15, and winners named November 19. The longlisted titles in the poetry category are Roget’s Illusion by Linda Bierds (Putnam), A Several World by Brian Blanchfield (Nightboat Books), Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück (FSG), Gabriel: A Poem by Edward Hirsch (Knopf), Second Childhood by Fanny Howe (Graywolf), This Blue by Maureen N. McLane (FSG), The Feel Trio by Fred Moten (Letter Machine Editions), Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf), The Road to Emmaus by Spencer Reece (FSG), and Collected Poems by Mark Strand (Knopf)

A longlist has been released for the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. This year the winner’s share has been doubled, and the other finalists will receive $10,000 each. A shortlist will be released October 6, with the winner named November 10. You can find the complete Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist here:

The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award 2014 in partnership with Booktrust has been announced. In the third all-female shortlist in nine years, five writers tackle pivotal moments in a woman’s life from girlhood to middle age, including sex and love, death and disintegration. This year’s shortlist is Bad Dreams by Tessa Hadley, The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Francesca Rhydderch, Kilifi Creek by Lionel Shriver, Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets by Zadie Smith, The American Lover by Rose Tremain

Finally, Taiwanese novelist and screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen won the $10,000 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, which is awarded biennially to a living author writing in Chinese “in recognition of outstanding achievement in prose or poetry that best captures the human condition, and is conferred solely on the basis of literary merit.” She is the first female Newman laureate. The award is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for U.S.-China Issues. She will be honored during an academic symposium and award banquet March 6, 2015.

Have a great month!

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Congratulations to Eniko Gaspar, who won a copy of The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer.

Congratulations to Kayce Crews, who won a copy of The Car Thief.

Congratulations to Pat DeBolt, who won a copy of THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC by Emily Croy Barker.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of FIRST IMPRESSIONS: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “First Impressions”.

We’ve also got a copy of MURDER ON THE ÎLE SORDOU by M.L. Longworth. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Murder”.

We’ve also got a copy of THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES edited and with an introduction by Katherine Howe. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Penguin Witches”.

Good luck everybody!


We will shortly be featuring reviews of The Double by Maria Takolander (when I can wrestle it back from my son, who is using it for his HSC exams), No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel , Impressionism Edited by Ingo F. Walther, 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 Brooke Davis, author of Lost & Found. You can also subscribe to the show and get updates automatically. Just find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader. Then just click subscribe.


(c) 2014 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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