The Book of Dust

•1,February 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage – 10 things we’re hoping to see

In less than a week’s time, eager readers will be able to dive back into the compelling parallel universe of Philip Pullman, first created by the author over 20 years ago. Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy began with the publication of Northern Lights in 1995 and continued with The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000), as well as an additional companion book, Lyra’s Oxford. Today, it is rightly remembered as one of the most brilliantly imaginative fantasy series of all times. (A rather disappointing 2007 film adaptation is rightly forgotten).

The novels were fantastically clever, drawing upon quantum mechanics and the idea of parallel universes, as well as the Biblical story of the fall of man and Milton’s Paradise Lost, to tell a complex tale about original sin, free will and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of religious oppression. More crucially, especially for their young target audience, they were also rattling good reads. In the stubborn, passionate and brave Lyra, and cautious, wise-beyond-his years Will, Pullman created two of the best-loved protagonists in young adult fiction.

La Belle Sauvage, the first instalment of Pullman’s long-awaited three-part follow-up, will be published on October 19, and we already know from the author that this section of the story will be set 10 years before the events of His Dark Materials, when Lyra is still an infant. Subsequent volumes in the series, collectively called The Book of Dust, will be set 10 years after the events of His Dark Materials.

Read further @ The Telegraph


The Novel That is the Talk of the Town

•1,February 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The Killer-Nanny Novel That Conquered France

Leïla Slimani’s best-seller explores the dark relationship of a mother and her babysitter.

A year ago, I picked up a book, “Chanson Douce,” that I’ve thought about pretty much every day since. I was initially drawn to it because I’d read that its author, Leïla Slimani, had been inspired by a news item about a New York nanny who killed the two children in her care. The murders happened in 2012, but I remembered them in all their excruciating particulars: that the mother had been at a swimming lesson with a third sibling; that they came home and found the boy and the girl bleeding in the bathtub; that the nanny, who tried to slit her own throat, said she was upset at having been asked to take on cleaning duties; that the couple has since had two more kids. Once in a while, someone else’s misery penetrates the carapace of self-absorption under which you scuttle around and gets deep into you. Feeling somehow protective of the story, I was both beguiled and a little shocked by Slimani’s audacity in laying claim to it.

Slimani had just won the Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize, which counts among its laureates Proust and Malraux. “Usually, the Goncourt Academy rewards books of the past,” the president of the jury had declared. “This year, we elect a book that speaks of the present, of the everyday and of its problems, such as the question of delegating authority and love to a person outside the family. Many will recognize themselves in this book.” The Goncourt has, more often than not, gone to a middle-aged white man, and so the committee had also broken from history in consecrating Slimani as the face of French literature. At thirty-five, she was the second Moroccan and the twelfth woman to receive the award (and the first to do so four months pregnant).

“Chanson Douce,” her second novel, sold six hundred thousand copies in its first year of publication, making Slimani, who lives in Paris, the most-read author in France in 2016. Elle put her on the cover, in red lipstick and a jumpsuit: “leïla slimani superstar.” Politicians of varying persuasions clambered to reheat themselves in her glow. Launching his bid for the Presidency, Manuel Valls paid tribute to the French language, “that of Rabelais, of Hugo, of Camus, of Césaire, of de Beauvoir, of Patrick Modiano, and Leïla Slimani.” Emmanuel Macron, now France’s President, reportedly invited her to be his minister of culture. “I love my freedom too much,” she told me when I asked about it.

Read further @ The New Yorker

Literary Empathy in Books

•1,February 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Give The Gift Of Literary Empathy

Often we romanticize poverty and struggle. Think of how overrepresented orphans are in literature and film, from Oliver Twist to half of Disney. Happily-ever-after endings can make everything look easy and trivialize the trauma, uncertainty, and messy imperfection of humanity.

However, there are plenty of extraordinary books out there that do not pull their punches, books that embrace a realistic narrative and make us think and feel. There is no guarantee that these books will resolve all the holiday tensions in your household – good luck with that – but maybe when the dishes are washed and the decorations are back in their boxes, the books that you gifted will be quietly changing hearts and minds. Tactical book gifting is not foolproof, but it might be a productive alternative to yelling at your friend’s uncle over a plate of cookies.

To get you started, here is a reading list from the book club at the New York Legal Assistance Group. This year’s list focuses on immigration in light of how divisive this topic was in 2017.

 In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, by Diane Guerrero (Non-Fiction)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fiction)

Brooklyn: A Novel, by Colm Toibin (Fiction)

For more books read further @ Huffington Post

Online Book Club in Honor of Bowie

•1,February 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The man who read the world: David Bowie’s son launches an online book club in his honor

Rock star David Bowie was “a beast of a reader,” according to his son, Duncan Jones. So Jones has decided to start an online book club to honor his literature-loving dad. Although he didn’t give it a name, the official Instagram account of the late rock star dubbed it the Bowie Book Club.

Jones, a screenwriter and film director known for “Moon” and “Warcraft,” made the announcement on Twitter on Boxing Day. The inaugural Bowie Book Club pick is Peter Ackroyd’s 1985 postmodernist novel, “Hawksmoor.”

Read further @ LA Times

Talk Race

•1,February 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

20 Children’s Books To Spark Important Discussions About Race And Tolerance

If you’re wondering when the “right” time is to begin having these talks — it’s now.

Wondering when and how to start talking to our children about race and tolerance? We might be overwhelmed by the idea: How do I start the conversation? What if I say the “wrong” thing? Can a very young child even benefit from these kinds of discussions?

The answer is a resounding yes, so if you’re wondering when the “right” time is to begin having these talks — it’s now.

Having honest and open discussions about race, tolerance, and acceptance from a very early age can set the stage for a much broader and deeper understanding of these issues as your child grows.

For the books read further @ Huffington Post

New Asian American Writers in the Spotlight

•1,February 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Spotlit at last: Asian American writing’s new generation

After years on the peripheries of US fiction and poetry, Asian American authors have stepped into the spotlight during 2017. Books by writers of east and south-east Asian heritage are one of the hottest trends this year. Led by Viet Thanh NguyenJenny Zhang and the poet Ocean Vuong, it marks the emergence into the centre of the US literary world of a previously marginalised group.

Transcultural writers, born to immigrant parents in the US or immigrants themselves as children, they are channelling their experiences into writing that, with perfect historical timing, challenges readers to resist attacks on immigrants’ rights and to see refugees as individuals with unique stories.

The experiences of displaced people are central to the work of this new generation of Asian Americans, and their books cross genres and forms. Vuong, who recently won the Forward prize for best first collection, arrived in the US as a refugee from Vietnam in 1990. His poems in Night Sky With Exit Wounds mix migration with myth and eroticism. Early in the collection, the narrator of Telemachus pulls his father from the sea, dragging him “through white sand, his knuckles carving a trail / the waves rush in to erase”. Such images stick in the reader’s mind and, though it is never said explicitly, feel as if they are etched in the memory of the young gay Asian man navigating the 21st-century US in subsequent poems.

Read further @ The Guardian

Nobel prize in literature 2017 for Kazuo Ishiguro

•1,October 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The British author behind books including Man Booker winner The Remains of the Day takes the award for his ‘novels of great emotional force’

The British author Kazuo Ishiguro said he was both honoured and “taken completely by surprise” after he was named this year’s winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in literature, even initially wondering if the announcement was a case of “fake news”.

Ishiguro, author of novels including The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, was praised by the Swedish Academy for novels which “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world” and were driven by a “great emotional force”.

Read further @ The Guardian

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