Saturday, February 22, 2020

Eight weird literary romances

Amy Bonnaffons's new novel is The Regrets.

At Lit Hub she tagged eight novels of unlikely love, including:
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1994)

This is my favorite book of all time, for many reasons—one of which is the way it depicts love, of even the most ordinary variety, as an underworld journey requiring the stoicism of a detective and the quiet bravery of a monk. When Toru Okada’s cat disappears, followed by his wife Kumiko, he embarks on a quest to find both of them and in the process to figure out where and how things began to go wrong in his marriage.

Along the way he meets many unique characters: psychics, traumatized veterans, a mother-son team named Nutmeg and Cinnamon, a sarcastic teenage girl who leads him to an abandoned well where he’ll battle the dark psychic force of his evil brother-in-law. If this sounds confusing, it is—in the best possible way. The book has the suspense of a detective novel, the dreamlike weirdness of a David Lynch movie, and the earnest beating heart of a simple husband who simply loves his wife (for Murakami, the “simple” is the strangest of all).
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is among KT Tunstall's six best books, Matthew Carl Strecher's ten best Haruki Murakami books and Colette McIntyre's eight books every college-bound student should read.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 21, 2020

Eight contemporary romantic novels

Owen Nicholls is a screenwriter and author. His first novel, Love, Unscripted, was chosen as part of the Escalator Talent Scheme run by the National Centre for Writing.

Nicholls lives in Norfolk, England with his partner and their two sons.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight contemporary novels that will make you believe love is possible, including:
In At The Deep End by Kate Davies

Discovering Julia and her sexual awakening in London was as eye-opening to me as it was to her. And while the main relationship in Davies’s debut deals with a controlling partner, the romance comes in Julia’s discovery of what—and who—she’s looking for when it comes to love. It’s funny and filthy and features some graphic descriptions of other f-words too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six novels where those fighting injustice also happen to be parents

Heather Chavez is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley’s English literature program and has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and contributor to mystery and television blogs. Currently, she’s employed in public affairs for a major health care organization where she writes human interest stories. She lives with her family in Santa Rosa, California.

No Bad Deed is Chavez's first book.

At CrimeReads she tagged six crime novels in which the protagonist's own family life introduces another wrinkle to the case. One title on the list:
Defending Jacob, William Landay

In this legal thriller, Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber has the respect of his colleagues and a happy domestic life with his wife, Laurie, and their teen son. Then one of Jacob’s classmates is stabbed to death, and Jacob is accused in the crime. The court scenes are realistic and riveting, but it is Andy’s unshakeable defense of his son, and the family’s slow disintegration, that are the emotional core of the story. The chapter Argentina and the climax are standouts in this regard.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Defending Jacob is among Sophie Hnnah's thirteen creepy & dysfunctional families in literature, Hallie Ephron's top ten novels that harness unreliable narrators, Charlie Donlea's top ten slow-burn thrillers, Alafair Burke's six top legal fiction / domestic suspense hybrids, Kate Moretti's eight suspense novels that explore nurture vs. nature and Nicholas Sparks' six top books about family.

The Page 69 Test: Defending Jacob.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ten top random encounters in literature

Will Harris is a writer of mixed Anglo-Indonesian heritage, born and based in London. His debut pamphlet of poems, All this is implied, published by HappenStance in 2017, was joint winner of the London Review Bookshop Pamphlet of the Year and shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award by the National Library of Scotland. Mixed-Race Superman, an essay, was published by Peninsula Press in 2018 and in an expanded edition by Melville House in the US in 2019. His first full poetry collection, RENDANG, is forthcoming from Granta in the UK in February 2020 and from Wesleyan University Press in the US later in the year.

At the Guardian, Harris tagged ten notable random encounters in literature, including:
Ulysses by James Joyce

After some 370 pages charting the “parallel courses” of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom across Dublin, they meet by chance at a maternity hospital on Holles Street. Leopold has gone to check on Mina Purefoy, who is about to give birth. Stephen and his friends are drinking. Their meeting happens in the midst of a potted history of English prose style, with their encounter rendered in the “eftsoons” style of Malory’s Morte d’Arthur – a tale that itself deals with the Grail quest among other strange encounters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ulysses is on Alex Clark's list of eight top books set over twenty-four hours, Tom McCarthy's lit of six favorite books about nothing, Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on grammar, George Vecsey's list of six favorite books, Nina MacLaughlin's top ten list of dirty old (literary) men, John Mullan's lists of the ten of the best parodies, ten of the best Hamlets in literature, ten of the best visits to the lavatory, and ten of the best vegetables in literature. It appears on Frank Delaney's top ten list of Irish novels and five best list of books about Ireland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Five dark & intelligent thrillers with strong female leads

Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching English as a foreign language. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course. She lives with her family in Berkshire. She is the author of The Missing Girl and Our Dark Secret.

At the Waterstones blog, Quintana tagged five of her favorite dark and intelligent thrillers with strong female leads, including:
Restless by William Boyd

What I love about Restless is William Boyd’s creation of the main, female characters. The beautiful and mysterious Eva Delectorskaya, once a Russian spy recruited by the British Secret Service, reinvents herself after the second world war as an ordinary English woman. Her curious and independent daughter has no idea of her mother’s past until she is drawn into helping her complete one more task. The plot is gripping, the setting is vivid, the characters are bold and the details about the war are compelling. Along with the touches of humour, all of this makes for an excellent and intelligent spy thriller which is difficult to put down.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Restless is among Mark Skinner's twenty great espionage novels, Henry Hemming's ten top books about fake news, and Samuel Muston's ten best spy novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Seven top books of extremely British satire

Hannah Rothschild CBE is a British writer, documentary filmmaker, businesswoman and philanthropist. Her biography, The Baroness, was published in 2012 in the UK, US and twelve other territories. Her first novel, The Improbability of Love, published in 2015 won the Bollinger Wodehouse Prize for best comic novel and was runner up for the Bailey Women's Prize for fiction in 2015.

Her much anticipated new novel is House of Trelawney.

At Lit Hub, Rothschild tagged "seven books that exemplify the long and glorious tradition of British Social Satires." One title on the list:
Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia

Hanif Kureishi also uses humor to take on the taboos of race relations and bigotry. In his 1990 novel Buddha of Suburbia, Karim, a young man of Indian descent feels trapped between the world of his Indian ancestors and his country of birth. His father, a bureaucrat by day, moonlights as a dhoti wearing swarmi by night and his mother is too depressed to leave the house. Karim leaves suburbia hoping to find freedom in the theater only to be cast as the Indian boy Mowgli in the Jungle Book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Buddha of Suburbia is among Sathnam Sanghera's best contemporary British-Asian novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ten top titles about missing persons

Kathleen Donohoe is the author the novels Ashes of Fiery Weather and the newly released Ghosts of the Missing.

Her stories and essays have appeared in Web Conjunctions, Harpur Palate, Inkwell, Washington Square, Irish America Magazine and the anthology The Writing Irish of New York.

She grew up in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives there with her husband and son.

At CrimeReads, Donohoe tagged ten "books about missing persons, fiction and nonfiction, [that] grapple with what it is like to search and mourn at once." One title on the list:
In the Woods by Tana French

Three twelve-year-olds go into the woods beside their homes in an Irish housing estate. Though they frequently played their together, on this day, one of the boys and the girl vanish. The other boy is found injured but alive, unable to recall what happened. Twenty-two years later, that boy is a detective, who, along with a partner is investigating a murder that may be connected to the still-unsolved disappearances of his best friends.
Read about the other entries on the list.

In the Woods is among Jessica Knoll's ten top thrillers, Tara Sonin's twenty-five unhappy books for Valentine’s Day, Krysten Ritter's six favorite mysteries, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Emma Straub's ten top books that mimic the feeling of a summer vacation, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books from Ireland's newer voices, and Judy Berman's ten fantastic novels with disappointing endings.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

6 books Erik Larson keeps returning to

Erik Larson's books include Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, The Devil in the White City, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won an Edgar Award for fact-crime writing, In the Garden of Beasts, about how America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany and his daughter experienced the rising terror of Hitler’s rule, and Isaac’s Storm, about the giant hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas in 1900.

The Splendid and the Vile, Larson's latest nonfiction thriller, offers a close-up view of Winston Churchill's first year as Great Britain's prime minister.

At The Week magazine, Larson tagged six books he keeps returning to, including:
Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser (1996).

When­ever I'm about to start a book, I turn to the first paragraph of Millhauser's novel for inspiration. He extends a sure hand, inviting the reader to enter the world of his hero, a creature of the late 19th century, when hubris bred great feats, and great tragedies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Five books on social mobility

Hashi Mohamed is a barrister and broadcaster based in London, England.

He arrived in Britain aged nine, as an unaccompanied child refugee. He attended some of Britain’s worst schools and was raised exclusively on state benefits. Yet today he is a successful barrister, with an Oxford degree and a CV that includes numerous appearances on the BBC.

In his debut book People Like Us: What it Takes to Make it in Modern Britain, Mohamed explores what his own experience can tell us about social mobility in Britain today.

At the Waterstones blog, he tagged five notable books on social mobility, Including:
The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Appiah’s book was an important book when attempting to make sense of identity, who you are and as you grow in a society where you may not feel completely at home at first.

The problem, as the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah points out, is not that there is anything ‘wrong with cherishing your children’. But when we live in a world in which parents have access to vastly unequal resources, we must confront the fact that this instinct, however natural and understandable, cannot reign unchecked without harming others.

When the Ghanaian-British professor of philosophy Kwame Anthony Appiah found himself adjusting his accent in an American direction when telling New York taxi drivers where he wanted to go, he saw it as a natural instinct to make himself easier to understand to people who were often, like him, immigrants in America.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Seven top apocalyptic reads

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Line Between, The House of Bathory Duology (The Progeny, Firstborn), Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker.

A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.

A Single Light, a sequel to The Line Between, is now available.

At CrimeReads, Lee tagged seven top books from the end of the world, including:
The Last Policeman

In this 2013 Edgar Award Winning first installment in The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters, the earth is just six months away from impact with asteroid 2011GV1. With no hope of survival, the world braces for extinction. Except for detective Hank Palace, who refuses to give up the investigation of a murder in the face of his own pending doom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Last Policeman is among Sam Reader's five books that find beauty in the apocalypse, Joel Cunningham's eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, and Melissa Albert's five best recent detective fiction classics.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 14, 2020

Seven books that blur the lines between living & dead

Jess Kidd is the award-winning author of Himself, Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, and Things in Jars. She has a PhD in creative writing from St. Mary’s University in London. She grew up as part of a large family from Ireland’s County Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. Her first book, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

At Lit Hub, Kidd tagged seven favorite ghost stories, including:
William Kennedy, Ironweed

Kennedy’s 1983 novel follows Francis Phelan as he returns to visit to his family in Albany, New York, after spending years on the road. Remarkable visions and brutal realities overlap, as do the worlds of the living and the dead. Francis sees again his dead infant son, his long-gone parents and the men who have died violently at his hands. It is through Francis’s exchanges with the dead that the guilt and pain associated with his past is unravelled.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ten of the greatest love stories in literature

Ceri Radford grew up in Swansea, studied English literature and French at Cambridge and started her career with Reuters. She has since written about books, TV, culture, society, male strippers and many other things besides for publications including The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement, and Red Magazine.

Her first novel is A Surrey State of Affairs (AKA Constance Harding’s (Rather) Startling Year).

At the Independent (UK), Radford tagged ten of the finest literary romances ever told, including:
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Love and marriage belong in two different boxes in this sprawling, epic account of the married Countess Anna Karenina’s doomed love affair with Count Vronsky. Her brother’s womanising is tolerated; Anna’s less so. Caught between fierce love, insecurity, hypocritical social pressures and the plodding presence of her husband, she finds it impossible to extricate herself. It does not end well. If you’re having relationship problems, think: “What would Anna Karenina do?” Then do the opposite.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Anna Karenina also appears on Tessa Hadley's list of six favorite examinations of art in fiction, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite epic novels, Jane Corry's list of five of literature's more fearsome families, Neel Mukherjee's six favorite books list, Viv Groskop's top ten list of life lessons from Russian literature, Elizabeth Day's top ten list of parties in fiction, Grant Ginder's top ten list of the more loathsome people in literature, Louis De Berniéres's six best books list, Martin Seay's ten best long books list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten list of books about justice and redemption, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books to reconfigure our conception of nature for the better

Michael Christie is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, was selected as a New York Times Editors' Choice Pick, and was on numerous best-of 2015 lists. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe & Mail.

Greenwood, his most recent novel, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

At the Guardian, Christie tagged ten top works of eco-fiction, including:
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

In her bold and strange novel, Watkins disassembles the mythology of the American west, paying particular attention to its brutal expansionism and unquestioned promise of personal reinvention. The story concerns a young couple trying to navigate post-apocalyptic California, where severe drought has baked the once fertile landscape into sandstorms and squalor. Peopled by wandering cults and water dowsers, Gold Fame Citrus shows us that perhaps the notions of “Shangri-La” and “Man-Made Hell on Earth” are two sides of the same ideological coin.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Eight compelling crime novels about people haunted by their pasts

Harry Dolan's latest novel is The Good Killer.

At CrimeReads he tagged eight compelling crime "stories of people who can’t escape their histories, no matter how much they may want to," including:
Tana French, Faithful Place

The narrator of Tana French’s third novel is Frank Mackey, a tough undercover cop who grew up in a large family in a poor neighborhood of Dublin. It’s the kind of place you hope to get away from, and at nineteen Frank planned to do just that: he arranged to run off with his sweetheart, Rosie Daly, and start a new life with her in London. But on the night they were meant to depart, Rosie stood him up, leaving only a note behind. Assuming she’d gone on to London alone, Frank never spoke to her again. Flash forward two decades and Frank has made his escape from his childhood home and built a career with the Dublin police. He has an ex-wife and a young daughter, and his only contact with his parents and siblings is through his sister Jackie. She’s the one who gives him the news that a suitcase has been found behind a fireplace in an abandoned house on their old street—the very place where Frank was supposed to meet Rosie all those years ago. When Frank sees the suitcase he recognizes it at once as Rosie’s, and soon after, he discovers Rosie’s body buried under the floor of the basement in the same house. Given Frank’s connection with the victim, his superiors want to keep him far away from the case, but Frank can’t let things lie. Before long he’s drawn back into old family relationships: with his disapproving mother and alcoholic father, and with the brothers and sisters who stayed behind in the old neighborhood. French illuminates these relationships with the sharp dialogue and subtle characterizations that have become her trademark, and she provides a solution to the mystery of Rosie’s death that is both satisfying and devastating.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Six books that engage with other art forms

Amina Cain is the author most recently of the short story collection Creature, and a novel, Indelicacy, which will be published this year. Her writing has appeared in Granta, n+1, The Paris Review Daily, BOMB, Full Stop, Vice, the Believer Logger, and other places.

She has also co-curated literary events, such as When Does It or You Begin?, a month long festival of writing, performance, and video at Links Hall in Chicago, Both Sides and The Center, a summer festival of readings and performances enacting various levels of proximity, intimacy, and distance at the MAK Center/Schindler House in West Hollywood, and the Errata Salon, a talk/lecture series at Betalevel in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.

At The Week magazine, Cain tagged six books that engage with other art forms, including:
Being Here Is Everything by Marie Darrieus­secq, translated by Penny Hueston (2017).

The life of German expressionist painter Paula ­Modersohn-­Becker is the subject of this deeply absorbing book. While reading, I was aware of one artist meeting another, as Darrie­ussecq is no ordinary biographer, but a kindred spirit to Modersohn-Becker.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 10, 2020

Seven notable thrillers with flawed characters

Christina McDonald is a USA Today bestselling author. The Night Olivia Fell (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books) has been optioned for television by a major Hollywood studio and her second book, Behind Every Lie, is available now.

At CrimeReads, McDonald tagged a few of her favorite thrillers with flawed characters. One title on the list:
The Other Mrs by Mary Kubica

This creepy and cinematic thriller follows Sadie Foust and her family, who’ve moved to an isolated island off the coast of Maine. Sadie is a complicated protagonist. She loves her family but she’s distant with her kids, suspicious and jealous of other women around her husband, and is completely unpredictable. And then there are all the bizarre half-memories she keeps having. This is one seriously messed up lady. But then one of their neighbors is murdered and Sadie becomes a suspect. You thought she was flawed before, just wait until the explosive twist at the end!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The best books about pandemics

Laura Spinney is an author and science journalist. She has published two novels in English, The Doctor (2001) and The Quick (2007). Her third book of non-fiction, Rue Centrale, came out in 2013, and her fourth, a tale of the Spanish flu called Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World, was published in 2017.

At the Guardian, Spinney tagged five of the best books about pandemics, including:
David Quammen’s Spillover serves as a rousing wake-up call, because he conjures up the complex web of microbial ecosystems through which humanity stumbles blindly. Mostly the microbes mind their own business, but occasionally we blunder into their finely tuned arrangements for survival and provoke the spillover of a pathogen from its usual animal host to us. It takes time for them to find a sustainable way to colonise their new host, or hosts, so the initial fallout can be carnage – a trail of gorilla carcasses in an African forest, for example, that heralds an outbreak of Ebola in people.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Middle Grade fantasy titles that feature characters of color

Marti Dumas is a mom, teacher and writer from New Orleans. She is best known for her Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest, series.

Her latest books, Jupiter Storm and The Little Human are middle-grade fantasies being heralded for their skillful combination of science, family, and magic.

For EmbraceRace, Dumas tagged more than ten Middle Grade fantasy fiction titles that feature characters of color, including:
The Black God’s Drums
by P. Djèli Clark*

In an alternate New Orleans of orisha and airships, a wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air—in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 7, 2020

Ten titles where the setting is a character

Sarah Pinborough is the number one Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of the psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes, and more than twenty other novels and novellas, including The Death House and a young adult thriller, 13 Minutes.

Her new novel is Dead to Her.

At CrimeReads Pinborough tagged ten "books [that] bring time and place alive in unforgettable ways," including:
My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite

Gosh, I loved this much celebrated book. Darkly funny, swift and sharp, this tale of two sisters, one who cleans up the mess for the other who has a habit of killing her boyfriends, brings the Nigerian capital to life. Without lingering on long descriptions it’s more through their daily way of life, work, home and personal, that the reader gets an insight into life in the city.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Sister the Serial Killer is among Tiffany Tsao's top five novels about murder all in the family, Victoria Helen Stone's eight top crime books of deep, dark family lore, and Kristen Roupenian's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Ten top tales about the rich

Sarah Blake is the author of Full Turn, a chapbook of poems, Runaway Girls, an artist book in collaboration with the artist, Robin Kahn, and three novels: Grange House; and the New York Times bestsellers, The Postmistress, and The Guest Book. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, and their two sons.

At the Guardian, Blake tagged ten "big, juicy stories of love, betrayal and memory; rich in the stuff and sorrow of dreams." One title on the list:
Run River by Joan Didion

Didion’s first novel begins with the sound of a gunshot heard by a woman calmly fastening a watch to her wrist in her bedroom, and takes us back through the events leading up to that shot – back through her memory, and further back into the history of her family, among the first settlers of the state of California. The novel combines Didion’s characteristically minute observation of class and power with a plot that spins relentlessly forward, never letting you forget that it must return to the moment of that opening shot.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Thirteen of the creepiest families in literature

Sophie Hannah is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers, which have been published in 51 countries and adapted for television, as well as The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot novel authorized by the estate of Agatha Christie, and the follow up The Closed Casket. Hannah is also the author of a self-help book, How to Hold a Grudge, and hosts the podcast of the same name. She lives in Cambridge, UK.

Hannah's new novel is Perfect Little Children.

At CrimeReads she tagged thirteen of her favorite creepy and dysfunctional families in literature, including:
See Jane Run, by Joy Fielding

The protagonist of this novel finds herself in a store, covered in blood, in possession of $10,000 and with no memory of who she is or how she came to be there. Her only chance of finding out the truth and getting her life back comes in the form of a stranger who says he’s her husband. There’s nothing scarier than a family that wants to claim you as its own when you have no way of knowing if you truly belong to it. This is a flawless and desperately gripping psychological thriller.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Ten books that were nearly lost to history

Michael Zapata is a founding editor of the award-winning MAKE Literary Magazine. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction; the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program award; and a Pushcart Nomination. As an educator, he taught literature and writing in high schools servicing drop out students. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and has lived in New Orleans, Italy, and Ecuador. He currently lives in Chicago with his family.

Zapata's new novel is The Lost Book of Adana Moreau.

At Electric Lit he tagged "ten works of literature that were lost and then saved by a hair," including:
2666 by Roberto Bolaño

Famously, Bolaño wrote his meteoric, apocalyptic magnum opus while waiting for a liver transplant, pursued both by his own impending biological (if not literary) death and visions of an impressionistic global literary future full of soccer matches “between a team of the terminally ill and a team of the starving to death.” Published a year after his death, 2666 is everything a novel could ever be and it leaves its readers blinking, like Bolaño, into the abyss.
Read about the other entries on the list.

2666 appears on Jeff VanderMeer's list of six favorite big, challenging reads, Kevin Barry's 6 favorite books list, Alex Clark's top ten list of long reads, and Gillian Orr's reading list of top unfinished novels; it was #1 in one tabulation of the critics' consensus book of the year for 2008.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 3, 2020

Six books to help us through tough times

Elif Shafak / Elif Şafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, and Three Daughters of Eve. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better.

Shafak's latest novel is 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

Shafak is also a political scientist and an academic. She holds a degree in International Relations, a masters’ degree in Gender and Women’s Studies and a PhD in Political Science and Political Philosophy. She has taught at various universities in Turkey, the UK and the USA, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow.

At the Guardian, Shafak tagged six works full of wisdom, heart and hope to help us through tough times, including:
George Monbiot’s Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning is a solidly researched, well-presented answer to climate deniers everywhere. For anyone who cares about the survival of our biosphere, anyone trying to find the right balance between preserving lifestyle and cutting carbon emissions, it is the perfect guidance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Six of the best Cold War thrillers

M.L. Huie is a writer, teacher and actor. In addition to working ten years as a features journalist he has written several plays that have been performed throughout the US and in the UK. He is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association, and teaches theatre and acting at the university-level. He is married to a brilliant woman and has two genius kids.

Huie's new novel is Spitfire.

At CrimeReads he tagged six "murky Cold war thrillers by some of the best writers in the genre." One title on the list:
The Other Side of Silence, Philip Kerr

It doesn’t get much more noir than the late Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series. Most of Kerr’s Gunther stories put Bernie reluctantly at the beck-and-call of such infamous Nazis as Joseph Goebbels and Reinhard Heydrich. Kerr’s later novels brought his German detective into the 1950s where he often found himself entangled with East and West spy agencies. Here, Bernie is working as a concierge on the French Riviera, but pretty soon he encounters tough customers including British spies, Markus Wolf, the notorious leader of the East German Stasi and, naturally, a beautiful woman. Kerr’s books simmer with uneasy alliances and sudden betrayal. No one navigates moral minefields quite like the brooding, sardonic Gunther.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Four excellent shorter novels

Ayòbámi Adébáyò is the author of Stay With Me, which was shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript Project as a work in progress in 2013. After it was published in 2017, it was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, the Wellcome Book Prize and the 9mobile Prize for Literature. It was also longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. Stay With Me was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Ayọ̀bámi was born in Lagos, Nigeria.

At the Guardian she tagged four books shorter than 250 pages "because of the remarkable characters that make them so unforgettable," including:
“You, though, are as beautiful as light splitting through glass,” writes Janice Pariat in her poignant and exquisite The Nine-Chambered Heart, foregrounding the novel’s splintered yet luminous portraiture of one woman’s life through the perspectives of her lovers and would-be lovers. As the nine narrators recall their interactions with this woman, what emerges is a figure who is at once real and mythical, the pulsing heart of an enthralling book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue