Monday, April 3, 2017

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction - Shortlist

Hey folks,

Award season for the world of books never seems to really end...as the US 2016 season comes to an end next week with the awarding of the Pulitzer Prize, the Baileys Prize announced its shortlist and the Man Booker International Prize announced its longlist.

The Bailey's shortlist looks great, consisting of the following novels by women from around the world:

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
First Love by Gwendoline Riley
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

I have already written glowing words about Thien's marvelous novel about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and I think winning the Giller and Governor General Prize (plus being shortlisted for the Booker last year) has confirmed its greatness. Not sure it needs to win this, but happy it continues to find praise.

I have a copy of The Sport of Kings on my Kobo and this book about racism and horse racing has gotten lots of love, so would not be surprised if it came out on top.

My pick at this point, though, is Naomi Alderman's dystopic Atwoodian novel, set in a world where teenage girls have the power to cause immense physical pain to others. It has gotten tons of good reviews and seems to be on point with the political and cultural zeitgeist of the moment.

I will be trying to finish at least these two (in addition to having already read DNSWHN) before the prize is handed out in June.

Hope others do to.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Go Read This Now: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

I received an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had not heard of Hannah Tinti before. I hadn't gotten onto her bandwagon after the publication of her second novel, The Good Thief, in 2008. But then I heard Michael Kindness (of Books On The Nightstand fame) rave about The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley on the Drunk Book Club podcast late last year as one of the most anticipated books of 2017.

I quickly signed onto my Netgalley account and got myself an advanced copy, which I proceeded to devour while vacationing in Taiwan in February. And all I can say is wow!

Part coming of age story, part gritty crime drama, Tinti's novel follows the story of Samuel Hawley and his teenage daughter Loo. Quickly we find out that Samuel's body is decorated by twelve bullet wounds that reveal a dark and violent past, one that Loo has no recollection of but desperately wants to find out about. Tinti takes us from past to present, slowly revealing the story behind each of Samuel's wounds and Loo's persistent search for the truth about her father, her deceased mother, and why her childhood was filled with constant running away only to return to her mother's home village. Slowly, the two worlds come to a head, as Samuel must confront his past choices and their consequences.

Almost cinematic in scope and pace, Tinti still keeps her literary sensibilities, using deeply moving prose to explore the regret that is permanently etched onto Samuel and the bewilderment and resentment he has passed on to a daughter. Yet, Tinti does not get bogged down in her words, able to move the plot forward, keeping the reader turning the page, and ending with a more than satisfying conclusion.

Tinti is a marvelous writer and she has given us a captivating story about violence, death, youth, renewal and reckoning. There are a few stellar books worth picking up this spring, make sure that the Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is one of them.