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The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 15, Issue 11, 1 November 2014


New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Competition News
Sponsored By
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Hello readers. Here is the latest batch of reviews this month:

A review of There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children Until They Moved Back In by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

If you have any familiarity with Russian culture, Russian people, or if you step back just for a moment from some of the intensity of the exchanges between the characters that people her stories, you sense a thread of humour, of warmth, of great compassion about the passing nonsense we call life. Read more:

A review of A World Elsewhere by Sigrid MacRae

At six, newly arrived in the United States from Germany, young Sigrid von Hoynigen-Huene was called a “Nazi” by a schoolmate. As a child and teenager, she blamed the father she had never known for her feelings of not belonging. Although Heinrich von Hoynigen-Huene, who died in July 1941, was an “iconic presence” when she was growing up, the “family lore” about him troubled her. For the full review visit:

The Free Mind of a Man in Captivity: Twelve Years A Slave, Book and Film

The director Steve McQueen has turned the book Twelve Years A Slave into the film 12 Years a Slave, interpreting Solomon Northup’s story with accuracy, exquisite craft, and significant understanding. What makes 12 Years A Slave remarkable are the consciousness, skill, and experience of Solomon Northup, his being an embodiment not of potential but of actual value—value (valued formed by liberty, knowledge, accomplishment, and family relations) that was denied by those who captured him. Read more:

A review of Vanishing Point by Jeri Kroll

At no point does the book lose its dramatic momentum. In fact, so compelling is the plot at times that it takes some effort to slow down and read the poems fully as poetry should be read, rather than racing on to see what happens. Vanishing Point is quick and easy to read, but the poems repay second and third readings where the complexity of the work begin to unfold. Diana’s self-awareness grows viscerally and sensually as she comes to accept the sensations of her adult body through the final section. For the full review visit:

An Interview with M.J. Vigna

The author of Deadly Deadly talks about her life and history, her inspirations, the books she’s reading, her upcoming projects, her literary mentors, and lots more. For the full interview visit:

A review of Perla by Carolina De Robertis

Breadth of vision and the ability to construct tension from the first page maintains the drama as the events wind and twist through each step taken toward the inexorable truth about Perla, her parents, her lineage and her country. It is a journey well worth taking. Read more:

A review of The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

Marwood makes clever use of cliffhanger endings and shifts from one point of view character to another to build suspense. The Epilogue begins grimly, showing Cher back in the social welfare system, but surprises us with a gratifying conclusion. Readers who enjoyed Marwood’s earlier mystery/suspense novel, The Wicked Girls, will like this one for its many surprises. For the full review visit:

Notes on the television program “Roots,” Black Narratives, the new King monument in Washington, D.C., and Barack

I know that the original broadcast of the television program “Roots,” based on African-American writer Alex Haley’s imaginative reconstruction of his family’s history, was an important cultural and historical event, presenting at once to all of America a history—the history of the capture and enslavement of Africans—that had been referred to but rarely discussed at length or widely. Read more:

A review of Impressionism edited by Ingo F. Walther

This is a glorious book, packed with information and insight and luxuriously detailed reproductions, which you’ll undoubtedly want to dip into always. It overflows with rapturous beauty. For the full review visit:

A review of No One is here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel

No One is here Except All of Us is an exquisite, circular tale that takes us back to where we started – where we all start – at birth, where we create the world afresh. It’s full of wonder even in the midst of the most dire tragedies. Beautifully written, full of pain and poetry, this is a book that opens histories most intense and painful moments and shows what survives: love and DNA. Read more:

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 (and growing) categorized archives, which can be browsed from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Knopf, Aug.). Flanagan will receive £50,000 (in addition to the £2,500 he was awarded for being shortlisted). The Tasmanian-born Flanagan is the third Australian to win the prestigious award for fiction. With the win, he joins fellow Aussies Thomas Kenneally (Schindler’s Ark, 1982) and Peter Carey (Oscar & Lucinda, 1988, and The True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001). The five other finalists for the prize, which was, for the first time this year, open to writers outside of the U.K. and the Commonwealth, included Howard Jacobson (J), Neel Mukherjee (The Lives of Others), Ali Smith (How to be Both), and Americans Joshua Ferris (To Rise Again at a Decent Hour) and Karen Joy Fowler (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves).

Author and activist Naomi Klein has won Canada’s richest prize for non-fiction for her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Accepting the C$60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction at a gala party in Toronto last night, Klein said, “I have to believe that this is some kind of sign of the times that this happened… I don’t know what it means, but I feel like there is a deep desire for change in this country.” The four other finalists for this year’s prize each received $5,000: Susan Delacourt for Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them (Douglas & McIntyre), Charles Montgomery for Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design (Doubleday Canada), Paula Todd for Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies, and Predators Online (McClelland & Stewart), and Kathleen Winter for Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage (House of Anansi Press).

The National Book Foundation has revealed the finalists for the 2014 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. Finalists for Fiction. The fiction finalists were Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press/ Grove/Atlantic), Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner/ Simon & Schuster), Phil Klay, Redeployment (The Penguin Press/ Penguin Group (USA)), Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House), and Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The Finalists for Poetry were Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Fanny Howe, Second Childhood (Graywolf Press), Maureen N. McLane, This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Fred Moten, The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions), and Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press).

Mexican writer Jorge Zepeda Patterson won Spain’s extremely lucrative €601,000 (US$766,925) Planeta Prize for his novel Milena, o el fémur más bello del mundo. Catalan News Agency reported that the annual literary award is “for unpublished works in Spanish that are written under false titles and pseudonyms. This is in theory to avoid judges being swayed by the reputation of the author, or prior knowledge of the text. In the case of the winner, he submitted the work under the fake titles Los crímenes del cromosoma XY (XY Chromosome Crimes­) with the nickname Eduardo Nevado.”

Charlotte Gray won the $10,000 (US$8,860) Toronto Book Award, which honors “authors of books of literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto,” for The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country. The judges said Gray’s “masterful depiction of the prevailing attitudes in Toronto during this tumultuous period is beautifully crafted and full of insight about the social landscape. Enlivened with rich historical detail, The Massey Murder is an absorbing exploration of the plight of an unfortunate young woman caught in a new and alien world, and of a city still in the painful process of self-discovery.”

Shortlists in six categories have been announced for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, which “recognize the role Australian writers play in enlightening and entertaining us, reflecting on our history and taking our stories to the world.” The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards feature a total prize pool of $600,000 (US$525,480). Winners will be named by the end of the year. The fiction list includesA World of Other People, Steven Carroll (Harper Collins),The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Vintage Australia), The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane (Penguin: Hamish Hamilton), Coal Creek, Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin), Belomor, Nicolas Rothwell (Text Publishing). For poetry, Tempo, Sarah Day (Puncher & Wattmann Poetry), Eldershaw, Stephen Edgar (Black Pepper),1953, Geoff Page (University of Queensland Press), Drag Down to Unlock or Place an Emergency Call, Melinda Smith (Pitt Street Poetry), and Chains of Snow, Jakob Ziguras (Pitt Street Poetry)
. The full list of shortlisted books can be found here:

The Poetry Book Society announced the shortlist for the £20,000 T.S. Eliot Prize, with two poets from the U.S., one from India, three previous winners and one debut collection. To mark the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death on January 4, the T.S. Eliot estate has increased the value of the winner’s share and the 10 shortlisted poets will each receive £1,500 ($2,400). The estate has also extended its support to become sole sponsor of the prize. This year’s shortlisted titles are: Bright Travellers by Fiona Benson, All One Breath by John Burnside, Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück, Fire Songs by David Harsent, The Stairwell by Michael Longley, Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth by Ruth Padel, Fauverie by Pascale Petit, Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Kevin Powers, When God Is a Traveller by Arundhathi Subramaniam, and I Knew the Bride by Hugo Williams.

Amy Mason won £10,000 (US$16,090) Dundee International Book Prize, which honors “an unpublished novel on any theme and in any genre,” for The Other Ida, the Bookseller reported. In addition to the cash award, the winner receives a publishing deal from Cargo Press.

The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2014 shortlist announced today features a diverse array of acclaimed authors and well known Irish personalities including literary heavyweights Roddy Doyle, Colm Tóibín, Joseph O’ Connor and John Boyne, celebrated sporting figures Roy Keane and Brian O’ Driscoll, BBC presenter Graham Norton, and fiction queens Cecelia Ahern and Cathy Kelly.Now in its ninth year, the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards brings together the entire literary community – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians –.to recognise and celebrate the very best of Irish literary talent. To vote for your favourite, visit:

Finally, seventeen authors, including Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Will Self, are selling naming rights to characters in upcoming works next month, in a charity auction in London.  Money raised from the sale, suitably dubbed the Immortality Auction, will go to Freedom from Torture, a charity that provides therapies and support to torture survivors. As a patron for Freedom from Torture, English author Julian Barnes was the first to donate a character in an upcoming, unnamed short story. He was followed by a prestigious list of international authors, consisting of Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Alan Hollinghurst, Joanna Trollope, Martina Cole, Sebastian Faulks, Robert Harris, Zadie Smith, Hanif Kureishi, Ken Follett, Will Self, Kathy Lette, Adam Mars-Jones, Adam Foulds, Pat Barker and Tracy Chevalier. For all the details, including how to enter and put in an absentee bid, visit:

Have a great month!


SPONSORED BY: is the place to go for all your reading needs. We have book reviews, book giveaways and many other interesting places to visit. Visit:


The Antigone Poems questions power, punishment and one of mythology’s oldest themes: rebellion. Visit:



Congratulations to June Ulkoski who won a copy of FIRST IMPRESSIONS: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett.

Congratulations to Betty Dennis who won a copy of THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES edited and with an introduction by Katherine Howe.

Congratulations to Karin Aaberg, who won a copy of MURDER ON THE ÎLE SORDOU by M.L. Longworth.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of RETURN TO OAKPINE by Ron Carlson. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Return to Carlson”.

We’ve also got a copy of MORE AWESOME THAN MONEY: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook (Viking / on-sale: October 20, 2014) by Jim Dwyer. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “More Awesome”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of 20/20 Meals by Julie Goodwin, On Leave by Daniel Anselme, Springtime by Michelle de Kretser, Merciless Gods by Christos Tsiolkas, 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 Jeri Kroll, author of Vanishing Point. 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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