Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 16, Issue 4, 1 April 2015


New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Competition News
Sponsored By
Coming soon

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

A review of brush by Joanne Burns

At times, the poems are so full of parataxis, clever juxtaposition, ironic aside and syntactical juggling, that the poems, taken too quickly or in too large a dose can create a kind of vertigo. However, I couldn’t leave the book alone. It kept drawing me back, one poem at a time, and each time I returned I found something new; something powerful. Read more:

An interview with Jacob Rubin

The author of The Poser talks about his protagonist, the World’s Greatest Impressionist, about his experience as a juggler and a rapper, about growing up among psychoanalysts and the influence on his character, about the user of first-person confession, about his parallel world fable-like setting, and much more. For the full interview visit:

A review of Beasts by John Crowley

One can detect a definite indebtedness to T.H. White (The Once and Future King, The Goshawk) in Crowley’s early novel (1976 was the original year of publication) but it’s an entertaining read and full of memorable characters. Indeed, I didn’t think I would ever find myself feeling for or empathising with a dog called Sweets, but that’s just what happened here. Read more:

A review of You Have No Power Over Me by Mark Logie

You Have No Power Over Me is a rather scary little story about a Daniel, a young boy alone in the park, and Lark, an older man who lives on what he can steal. Both Daniel and Lark are misfits – society’s cast-offs and both seem to be living a lonely, tenuous and dangerous existence when Lark finds Daniel.
Read more:

A review of Carolina Skeletons by David Stout

Besides being a very fine mystery, Stout’s novel is as well a provocative meditation on contemporary history. He reminds us that the primary source for the recent past lies in the memories of the living. Such memories, fragile as they are, may indeed be the only resource, if you want to challenge the written record. For the full review visit:

An interview with Vladimire Calixte

The author of Naked and Transparent talks about her background, the inspiration behind her new book, her messages, her work-in-progress (including an excerpt), and lots more. For the full interview visit:

A review of The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
March 26, 2015

The Book of Strange New Things is like no other book I’ve read. It’s exquisite, sad, uplifting and doomed all at the same time. I wish that the ending was different, and know, somehow, that nothing else that would do. This is a book that will remain with me, working its way under my skin like the Oasan atmosphere. For the full review visit:

An interview with Claire Kells

The author of Girl Underwater talks about the origin of her first novel, about the relationship between being a practising doctor and writing, about the Colorado Rockies (her setting), her novel’s structure, about writing love triangles, her themes, PTSD, swimming, would would play her leads in the film version, and lots more. Read more:

A review of Hysterical Love by Lorraine Devon Wilke

California writer Lorraine Devon Wilke presents her new novel, Hysterical Love, from a man’s point of view. Men have been writing from women’s points of view for centuries, not always effectively or convincingly. Entering the heart and mind of a character from a group to which one does not belong is always a challenge and Wilke deserves praise for daring to do it. Read more:

A review of Shameless by Marilyn Churley

Marilyn Churley’s non-fiction work, Shameless, is a mother-child reunion story, and more. The former Ontario (Canada) cabinet minister has written a memoir about the search for the baby she relinquished in 1968, and, as well, a history of the struggle to get the Ontario adoption disclosure law changed. She shows how social mores of the 1960s were hostile to women’s needs, and how men’s concerns delayed the effort to open adoption records to adoptees and birth parents. For the full review visit:

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, which can be browsed from the front page of the site.


In the literary news this month, Plum Johnson won the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize for literary nonfiction, which is given to an author “whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style and a subtlety of thought and perception,” for They Left Us Everything. Later this month, she will announce the winner of the RBC Taylor Emerging Author award, who receives $10,000 and the opportunity to be mentored by Johnson. The jury praised They Left Us Everything as “beautifully observed and written with great warmth and wit,” calling it a “story of love, loss and legacy, written with compassion and humor.”

Six finalists have been named for this year’s Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Prize coordinator Tom Tivnan said: “Britain’s, arguably the world’s, premier literary prize once again delivers the goods, with seven magnificent titles that are unparalleled in their oddity.” The shortlisted books are: Divorcing a Real Witch: For Pagans and the People that Used to Love Them by Diana Rajchel, Nature’s Nether Regions by Menno Schilthuize, The Ugly Wife Is Treasured at Home by Melissa Margaret Schneider, Strangers Have the Best Candy by Margaret Meps Schulte, Where Do Camels Belong? by Ken Thompson, Advanced Pavement Research: Selected, Peer Reviewed Papers from the 3rd International Conference on Concrete Pavements Design, Construction & Rehabilitation, December 2-3, 2013, Shanghai, China, edited by Bo Tian, and The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones by Sandra Tsing-Loh. Can’t say I’ll be rushing out to pick up a copy of any of these.

Love and loss – the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2014 shortlist has been announced and includes Patience Agbabi, Imtiaz Dharker, Carrie Etter, Andrew Motion and Alice Oswald. The Poetry Society’s Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry seeks to recognise excellence in new poetry. The Award acknowledges poetry that goes beyond just the page, highlighting exciting and outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life in 2014. Established in 2009 by Poet Laureate and Vice President of the Poetry Society, Carol Ann Duffy, the £5,000 prize is funded with the annual honorarium the Poet Laureate traditionally receives from HM The Queen. The award is one of the only prizes to acknowledge the wide range of work being produced by poets – not just in books, but beyond. Previous winners of the £5,000 prize include Maggie Sawkins in 2013 for Zones of Avoidance and Kate Tempest in 2012 for Brand New Ancients.

The finalists for the 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards have been announced. The awards celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender books published in 2014, and the winners will be revealed at a gala ceremony on June 1 in New York City. The full set of shortlisted titles can be found here:

Poets & Writers magazine announced that Margaret Atwood, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor and Christopher Castellani have won the 2015 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Awards, which recognizes “authors who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community.” Barbara Epler, president and publisher of New Directions, will receive this year’s Editor’s Award. The winners will be honored March 23 in New York City at Poets & Writers’ annual benefit dinner, In Celebration of Writers.

Elizabeth McCracken was presented with the $20,000 Story Prize for her collection, Thunderstruck (The Dial Press), during a ceremony at The New School’s auditorium in New York City on March 4. McCracken had not published a short story collection since 1993 when her debut work, Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry, was released. Other finalists for the prize, recognizing books published in 2014, were Francesca Marciano for The Other Language (Pantheon) and Lorrie Moore for Bark (Knopf). They each received $5,000.

The Australia Council has announced it will award the novelist Thomas Keneally for his lifetime achievement in literature. Keneally is one of 10 Australians to be recognised by the council for outstanding contributions to the arts landscape in 2015.

The shortlist for the £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize 2015 was announced by chair of judges, Bill Bryson. Celebrating the best new books that engage with some aspect of medicine, health or illness, the 2015 shortlist showcases the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine through six exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction. The list includes: The Iceberg by Marion Coutts (Atlantic), Do No Harm by Henry Marsh (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss (Granta), The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts (Quercus), My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel (Windmill Books), and All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Faber). The two novels and four non-fiction books capture a diverse range of perspectives and characters – from brain surgeon to anxiety sufferer, historic trailblazer to bereaved survivor of loss.

Judges Alexander Chee, Marc Fitten, and Deirdre McNamer have announced their list of finalists for the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The winner will be announced on April 7th. Finalists are Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press), Jennifer Clement, author of Prayers for the Stolen (Hogarth), Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life (Tyrant Books), Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven (Alfred A. Knopf), Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation (Alfred A. Knopf). More detail about each author and the titles can be found here:

Louise Erdrich, author of the novels “Love Medicine” and “The Round House,” will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction this year. The prize, which will be awarded during the National Book Festival on Sept. 5, is given to writers with “unique, enduring voices” whose work addresses the American experience. Past winners include John Grisham, Toni Morrison and E.L. Doctorow.

The Indian-American writer Akhil Sharma has been named winner of the second Folio prize for fiction for a novel which took him 13 long and painful years to complete, charting one emigrant family’s heartwrenching search for the American dream. Writing it, he admitted after receiving the £40,000 prize, was a frustrating, difficult challenge, often “like chewing stones” with around nine wasted years when it did not go well. “I’m glad the book exists, I just wish I hadn’t been the guy who wrote it,” he said. The other shortlisted candidates were 10:04 by Ben Lerner, All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Dust by Adhiambo Owuor, Nora Webster by Colm Toibin, and Outline by Rachel Cusk.

Finalists have been announced for the £60,000 (about $89,250) Man Booker International Prize, which is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language. The winner is chosen by the judging panel; there are no submissions from publishers. In addition, there is a separate award for translation, and the winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive a prize of £15,000 (about $22,310). The winner will be announced May 19 in London. The 10 authors on the list are César Aira (Argentina), Hoda Barakat (Lebanon), Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe), Mia Couto (Mozambique), Amitav Ghosh (India), Fanny Howe (U.S.), Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya), László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), Alain Mabanckou (Republic of Congo), and Marlene van Niekerk (South Africa).

Finally, The winner of Diagram’s Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is Strangers Have the Best Candy by Margaret Meps Schulte, a self-published travelogue, which won 26.1% of the votes.

Have a great month.


Feeling nostalgic for the post office days? Want to foster a love of reading and writing? And excite and educate your kids all at once? For only $5.50 a month or $58 a year, Letters For Kids will send your child two letters each month created by children’s authors exclusively for the program and not available anywhere else. Past letters have been from Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler, Adam Rex, Matt Holm, Rebecca Stead, Susan Patron and more. Check it out at:

================================================== is the place to go for all your reading needs. We have book reviews, book gand many other interesting places to visit. Visit:


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



Congratulations to Heather Jackson and Mary Preston, who each won a Kindle gifted sets of Unscrambled Eggs, and Becoming: The Life & Musings of a Girl Poet by Nadia Brown.

Congratulations to Jeanne Sheats show won a set of Entrevoir by Chris Katsaropoulos and The Possibility of Snow by Al Riske

Congratulations to Maggie Blanch, who won a copy of Gone in a Heartbeat” by Dr. Neil Spector.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of The Poser by Jacob Rubin. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Poser.”

We also have a copy of Girl Underwater by Claire Kells. To win, send me an email at with your postal address and the subject line “Girl Underwater.”

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of Mendeleev’s Mandala by Jessica Goodfellow, The Life of Houses by Lisa Gorton, Sentenced to Live by Clive James, 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 Philip Salom, author of Alterworld.
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) 2015 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.

Blogger Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter

Unsubscribe | Manage Subscription