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

A Brieef History of seven Killings into a TV series

•1,October 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment



Marlon James’s Novel ‘A Brief History Of Seven Killings’ Is Coming To Amazon

Talk about a killer lineup: Marlon James’s Man Booker Award-winning novel A Brief History of Seven Killings is becoming an Amazon TV series, which will be written by James and directed by Melina Matsoukas. The two will also executive produce the series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Matsoukas, a rising star, honed her chops in music videos. She’s the directorial mind behind hit videos like Beyoncé’s “Formation,” a deeply political work that garnered critical raves and widespread cultural attention. In the past year, she’s directed episodes of the acclaimed series “Master of None”; she’s also the chief director of HBO’s “Insecure.”

Seven Killings will be a shift from the artful comedies Matsoukas has recently worked on. James’s 2014 opus, named one of the best books of the year by outlets including HuffPost, revolves around an attempted assassination of Bob Marley in Jamaica. The sprawling novel is densely packed with violent encounters, calculated murders, drug abuse and international intrigue.

Read further @ Huffpost

Radio Interview with Anita Desai

•1,June 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The beautiful, melancholy world of Anita Desa








Anita Desai is one of India’s most celebrated and successful writers. Over the course of her career, which has spanned almost five decades, she has written 17 novels, novellas and children’s books. Desai has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize three times: in 1980 for Clear Light of Day, in 1984 for In Custody and in 1999 for Fasting, Feasting. She recently received Montreal’s Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival Grand Prix, a lifetime achievement award.

She writes with elegance and sensitivity about the collision of cultures. Her most recent work, a collection of novellas titled The Artist of Disappearance, features characters who have remained in India but are haunted by other lives.

Listen to the Radio Interview


My Cousin Rachel Trailer

•1,June 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

My Cousin Rachel, based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier, stars Sam Claflin as Philip, a young 19th-century Cornishman who becomes convinced that his guardian has been murdered by his alluring yet ambiguous wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz) – while simultaneously falling for her charms.

Alternately beguiling, vulnerable and terrifying, Rachel is a classic femme fatale, played with cool relish by Weisz. Of course, she’s nowhere near the first fictional female to be bad news for the fictional male. The origins of the femme fatale archetype reach right back to the beginnings of culture, with early specimens ranging from the demonic Lilith, to the riddle-setting Sphinx of Thebes and the Bible’s treacherous Delilah.

Source: The Telegraph

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Turns 50 Years Old This Year

•1,June 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment



Earlier this year I made my first visit to Colombia. During my stay, I became familiar with many of the emblems around which this wonderful nation’s image revolves. There is of course the coffee, some of the best in the world and perhaps primarily known to Americans by the mustachioed Juan Valdez. There are also the ancient indigenous civilizations, whose exquisite artifacts you will see in museums everywhere. Then there is the world-famous painter Fernando Botero, who has adapted his unique style to depict countless national icons, as well as the torture practiced by US soldiers at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. And most of all, towering over the rest, is Colombia’s most beloved author, Gabriel García Márquez.

There is an oft-told anecdote that cuts to the heart of this writer’s greatness. As he wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude, he would regularly meet with his fellow great Colombian author Álvaro Mutis, updating Mutis on his progress by narrating the latest events from his novel. There was just one problem: none of what García Márquez told Mutis actually occurs in the book. He had effectively made up an entire shadow-novel while in the middle of writing one of the most imaginative and jam-packed books in the history of modern literature. This is a measure of how many competing realities existed in García Márquez’s voracious mind.

I am writing about this author today because his greatest work, One Hundred Years of Solitude, turns 50 years old this year, and I would like to understand why it has had such flabbergasting success. This immense novel is claimed to be an effort to express everything that had influenced García Márquez throughout his childhood. It has been called a latter-day Genesis, the greatest thing in Spanish since Don Quixote (by Pablo Neruda, no less), and unique even by the standards of the colossi of the Boom era. García Márquez wrote it in one rapturous year in Mexico City, supposedly chain-smoking 60 cigarettes a day, secluded and reliant on his wife for the necessities of living. To paraphrase critic Harold Bloom, there is not a single line that does not flood with detail: “It is all story, where everything conceivable and inconceivable is happening at once.”

Read further @ Literary Hub

Hamid’s Understanding of the Most Pressing Questions of our Time

•1,June 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment


Refugee stories often focus on transit, for obvious reasons. Children travel thousands of miles unaccompanied, hiding in train stations and surviving on wild fruit; men are beaten, jailed, and swindled just for the chance to make it on a boat that, if it doesn’t capsize and kill them, will allow them to try their luck in other dangerous seas. But in his new novel, “Exit West,” Mohsin Hamid, the author of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia,” tells a story about migration in which the refugee’s journey is compressed into an instant. (An excerpt from the novel ran in this magazine.) In the world of “Exit West,” migration doesn’t involve rubber rafts or bloodied feet but, rather, “doors that could take you elsewhere, often to places far away.”

When the novel opens, rumors of those doors have started circulating in a nameless, besieged country, where Saeed and Nadia, the book’s protagonists, live. They reside, at first, in an ordinary world. “In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her,” the book begins. The novel’s sentences tend toward the long and orotund: “It might seem odd that in cities teetering at the edge of the abyss young people still go to class—in this case an evening class on corporate identity and product branding—but that is the way of things, with cities as with life, for one moment we are puttering about our errands as usual and the next we are dying, and our eternally impending ending does not put a stop to our transient beginnings and middles until the instant when it does.” That last phrase is a statement of purpose for both migration and romance. This is a love story, too.

Read further @ The New Yorker

Updike Reviews Delillo

•1,April 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

John Updike on Don DeLillo’s Post-Christian Search for Order

There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist?


“In a land of chunky, garish, anxiousto-please books, Don DeLillo’s thirteenth novel, Cosmopolis, is physically cool, as sleek and silver-touched and palely pure as a white stretch limo, which is in fact the action’s main venue.

“DeLillo’s post-Christian search for ‘an order at some deep level’ has brought him to global computerization: ‘the zero-oneness of the world, the digital imperative that defined every breath of the planet’s living billions.’

The limo, floored in Carrara marble, in its stop-and-go progress admits a coming and going of other passengers, including two advisers who advise Packer to bail out of the yen before he is ruined. Instead, the financier bails out of the limo for a number of quick trysts.

Read further @ Literary Hub

Whitehead Wins Pulitzer Prize

•1,April 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad’ Wins Pulitzer Prize

Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award–winning speculative history novel The Underground Railroad garnered another top honor on Monday, with the announcement that the book had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for 2017.

The novel reimagines the Underground Railroad as a real, tangible subway system carrying Southern slaves north. Whitehead’s fantastical twist on the nation’s history takes readers on a time-collapsed tour through the horrors visited upon black Americans from slavery onward, including medical exploitation and expulsion from certain territories.

Read further @ The Huffington Post

Futuristic Dreams in Music

•1,April 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Dreams of a Plastic Future

This issue’s special section on climate dystopias set me wondering what kind of responses to an uncertain future dwell in the world music community. One such global movement, now decades in development and spanning a number of media including music, is Afrofuturism—a genre that often embraces aspects of science fiction as a means of imagining a time and place either beyond the racial inequities of the present or never tainted by the corrosive effects of colonialism.

Notoriously difficult to define in any way that is wholly inclusive of its many expressions, Afrofuturism has nonetheless gained more than a foothold in the American mainstream with elements of its expansive vision cropping up in the work of Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe, and Rihanna, among others. Not surprisingly, these themes have taken root in the electronic music scenes all over Africa, which in turn have reverberated in European cities responsive to these new sounds. It is by this route that we arrive at the Berlin-based experimental duo OY’s 2016 release Space Diaspora. A collaboration between Ghanaian-born singer Joy Frempong and Swiss composer Marcel Blatti (performing under the pseudonym Lleluja-Ha), the album is a marvel in both its conceptual vision and musical scope.

Read further @ World Literature Today

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