2017 Man Booker Prize Winner

George Saunders has won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.  You may remember Saunders, known for his short story writing, for his story collection Tenth of December which was a 2013 National Book Award Finalist.lincoln in the bardo george saunders

2017 Chair of judges, Lola Young, explains why they chose Saunders’ novel:

“The form and style of this utterly original novel, reveals a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative. This tale of the haunting and haunted souls in the afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s young son paradoxically creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters that populate this other world. Lincoln in the Bardo is both rooted in, and plays with history, and explores the meaning and experience of empathy.”

What is George Saunders’ first novel about? Here’s the GoodReads blurb for Lincoln in the Bardo:

“On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body.

Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel – in its form and voice – completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humour, pathos, and grace.”

You might be wondering, as I did, why he might have chosen this iconic figure for the subject of his first novel.  According to the Man Booker site:

“Saunders told TIME magazine that he didn’t really want to write about Lincoln, ‘but was so captivated by this story I’d heard years ago about him entering his son’s crypt. I thought of the book as a way of trying to instil the same reaction I’d had all those years ago.’”

You may or may not be in the habit of reading the Man Booker prize winner every year, but Lincoln in the Bardo has been rated highly by GoodReads readers and may well be one for the TBR list.

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2017 National Book Award Finalists

The National Book Awards has chosen its five fiction finalists for 2017.  You can see the finalists in other categories on their site.

Dark at the Crossing by Elliot Ackerman

“Haris Abadi is a man in search of a cause. An Arab American Dark at the Crossing by Elliot Ackermanwith a conflicted past, he is now in Turkey, attempting to cross into Syria and join the fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. But he is robbed before he can make it, and is taken in by Amir, a charismatic Syrian refugee and former revolutionary, and Amir’s wife, Daphne, a sophisticated beauty haunted by grief. As it becomes clear that Daphne is also desperate to return to Syria, Haris’s choices become ever more wrenching: Whose side is he really on? Is he a true radical or simply an idealist? And will he be able to bring meaning to a life of increasing frustration and helplessness? Told with compassion and a deft hand, Dark at the Crossing is an exploration of loss, of second chances, and of why we choose to believe—a trenchantly observed novel of raw urgency and power.” (NBA profile)

The Leavers by Lisa KoThe Leavers by Lisa Ko

“A vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging, The Leavers is the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away—and how one woman learns to live with the mistakes of her past.” (NBA profile)

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, Pachinko by Min Jin Leebeginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.
So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.” (NBA profile)

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria MachadoHer Body and Other Parties Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

“Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.” (NBA profile)

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

“Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn WardMam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.
Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.” (NBA profile)

To add any of these books or the rest of the fiction longlist on GoodReads, head over to 2017 National Book Awards Longlist.

2017 Goldsmiths Prize Shortlist

The Goldsmiths Prize had it’s beginnings in 2013. According to their site, it was created to “celebrate the qualities of creative daring associated with the University and to reward fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form”.

The Goldsmiths Prize Chair of Judges, Dr. Naomi Wood, said of this year’s shortlist: “Our six shortlisted books offer resistance to the received idea of how a novel should be written. Variously, they break the rules on continuity, time, character arcs, perspective, voice, typographical conventions and structure. As such, there is a wildness to all of our chosen books that provokes in the reader a joyful inquiry about just what a novel might be there to do.”

Happy by Nicola BarkerHappy by Nicola Barker

“Imagine a perfect world where everything is known, where everything is open, where there can be no doubt, no hatred, no poverty, no greed. Imagine a System which both nurtures and protects. A Community which nourishes and sustains. An infinite world. A world without sickness, without death. A world without God. A world without fear.  Could you…might you be happy there?

H(A)PPY is a post-post apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland, a story which tells itself and then consumes itself. It’s a place where language glows, where words buzz and sparkle and finally implode. It’s a novel which twists and writhes with all the terrifying precision of a tiny fish in an Escher lithograph – a book where the mere telling of a story is the end of certainty.” (GoodReads)

 A Line Made by Walking by Sara BaumeA Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume

“Struggling to cope with urban life-and life in general-Frankie, a twenty-something artist, retreats to her family’s rural house on “turbine hill,” vacant since her grandmother’s death three years earlier. It is in this space, surrounded by countryside and wild creatures, that she can finally grapple with the chain of events that led her here-her shaky mental health, her difficult time in art school-and maybe, just maybe, regain her footing in art and life. As Frankie picks up photography once more, closely examining the natural world around her, she reconsiders seminal works of art and their relevance.

With “prose that makes sure we look and listen,” Sara Baume has written an elegant novel that is as much an exploration of wildness, the art world, mental illness, and community as it is a profoundly beautiful and powerful meditation on life.” (GoodReads)

 Playing Possum by Kevin DaveyPlaying Possum by Kevin Davey

“Fleeing from a violent incident in London in 1922, pursued by police and the author, Tom spends a troubled night in the Duke of Cumberland hotel in Whitstable. Demobilised soldiers hold a meeting below his window and a silent movie is being shot on the seafront. Davey draws on local history and literature, songs, films and artwork from the period to produce a novel Eliot himself would have enjoyed.” (GoodReads)

 Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregorReservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

“Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.
Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.
The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.
As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.
Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.

An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.” (GoodReads)

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

“From “one of Britain’s most original young writers” (The Observer), a blistering account of a marriage in crisis and a portrait of a woman caught between withdrawal and self-assertion, depression and rage.

Neve, the novel’s acutely intelligent narrator, is beset by financial anxiety and isolation, but can’t quite manage to extricate herself from her volatile partner, Edwyn. Told with emotional remove and bracing clarity, First Love is an account of the relationship between two catastrophically ill-suited people walking a precarious line between relative calm and explosive confrontation.” (GoodReads)

Phone by Will SelfPhone by Will Self

“Meet Jonathan De’Ath, aka ‘the Butcher’. The curious thing about the Butcher is that everyone who knows him – his washed-up old university lecturer father, his jumbling-bumbling mother, his hippy-dippy brothers, his so-called friends, his spooky colleagues and his multitudinous lovers – they all apply this epithet to him quite independently, each in ignorance of the others. He knows everyone calls him ‘the Butcher’ behind his back, but he also knows that they don’t know the only real secret he maintains, encrypted in the databanks of his steely mind: Colonel Gawain Thomas, husband, father, highly-trained tank commander – is Jonathan De’Ath’s longtime lover.” (GoodReads)

2017 Man Booker Prize Shortlist

The 2017 Man Booker Longlist has been whittled down to the six books shortlisted for this year’s prize.  Have you been reading the Man Booker Longlist? If you’ve read any of these, what did you think? The Man Booker Prize winner will be announced on the 17th October.

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US)

“On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, 4321 paul austerNew Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson’s story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up-again and again and again.

As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written 4 3 2 1 is an unforgettable tour de force, the crowning work of this masterful writer’s extraordinary career.” (GoodReads)

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US)

Even a lone wolf wants to belong…history of wolves emily fridlund Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on.

So when the perfect family – mother, father and their little boy, Paul – move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into the family’s orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcomes, that she finally has a place to belong.

Yet something isn’t right. Drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be? (GoodReads)

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK)

“An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-exit west mohsin hamidshortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia share a cup of coffee, and their story begins. It will be a love story but also a story about war and a world in crisis, about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow. Before too long, the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to leave their homeland. When the streets are no longer useable and all options are exhausted, this young couple will join the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world…” (GoodReads)

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK)

“Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction – Sally elmet fiona mozleyRooney meets Sarah Perry, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.” (GoodReads)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US)

“The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National lincoln in the bardo george saundersBook Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War

February 1862. The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a strange purgatory – called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo – invisible to his father, bowed at the tomb. Within this transitional realm, where ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices – living and dead, historical and fictional – Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?” (GoodReads)

Autumn by Ali Smith (UK)

“A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and autumn ali smithBaileys Prize-winning author of How to be both.

Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art (via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skull-diggery), Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means.

Autumn is the first installment in Ali Smith’s novel quartet Seasonal: four standalone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are), exploring what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.” (GoodReads)

Literary & Genre Fiction: A Case For Reading Widely

I am by no means the most prolific reader, nor am I intimately acquainted with the details and debates surrounding literature genres.  There are people far better read and well versed in the world of literature than I.

However, I enjoy reading a great deal and it has served me well in a number of areas of my life.  I read different kinds of books for different reasons.  I try to read widely to get a better sense of the world and what people are thinking, but I also read widely because I enjoy it.

A lot of book bloggers have a preferred genre in which they like to read and review, a genre niche, I am not one of them.  I make up my reading strategy as I go along, allowing room for change and growth because that’s what my book blog has always been about – growth and change as a reader and a writer.  That’s what reading has always represented to me too.  It makes perfect sense, then, to read across the many genres that make up our bountiful world literature because that’s my best chance for growth and change.

It might be easier for me because I genuinely enjoy many, if not all, genres.  It’s all about finding the right book.  And for this reason I’m not big on pigeon holing books into any one genre because I really believe there will always be elements of a book overlooked by doing that.  Some will say genres help us get an idea of what a book is about (true), but blurbs are are much better for that.  Genre labelling results mostly in pre-judging a book’s content and value, like judging a book by its cover, if you will.

I remember searching for Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret on GoodReads, reading the blurb and thinking it sounded great, but then saw it categorised as ‘chick-lit’ in the genre tab.  I was immediately put off.  Luckily, many trusted readers recommended the book and I read it despite my genre misgivings.  It was a great book.  I’m sure we’ve all missed out on great, thought-provoking, or surprising books because of genre labelling at some point.

Genres, for all their intents and purposes, have also aided book snobbery.  Helping to place greater cultural value on some and snubbing the rest.  This really goes against everything that reading is all about.  But genres aren’t going anywhere, so it’s better to find a way to use them to help us read the right kind of book at the right time depending on our needs.

“The main reason for a person to read Genre Fiction is for entertainment, for a riveting story, an escape from reality. Literary Fiction separates itself from Genre because it is not about escaping from reality, instead, it provides a means to better understand the world and delivers real emotional responses.” – Steven Petite (article)

Sometimes we read to escape, to go somewhere unrecognisable and get lost.  Sometimes we read to think, to understand ideas or the world around us.  Sometimes we read simply for pleasure, to pass the time and indulge in a story of others.  Sometimes we read for expansion, to see ourselves or something new in others.  Whenever we pick our next book we have an idea of the kind of reading experience we’re interested in having depending on what we need, what we’re feeling, or what we’re going through in that moment.

Different genres or books with different focuses can help us have the reading experience we’re looking for in that moment or phase of our lives.  This is why I advocate reading as widely as possible across as many genres as you can.  You never know what you’ll find and, more importantly, you never know what you’ll get out of it.

This is why both literary fiction (what I see as character centric fiction concerned with social commentary or the human condition broadly) and genre fiction play important roles in the world of literature and our personal reading journeys, because they offer different experiences and perspectives.  This is why we read, to escape into the other to walk in different shoes and to escape into the same to see with different eyes.  Experience and perspective.  It doesn’t matter the shape of the story, the setting, or the style, as long as you’re dipping into different worlds.

We know the entertainment value of genre fiction but did you know literary fiction has been scientifically proven to improve your Theory of Mind efficacy?  I had no clue what Theory of Mind is but according to Psychology Today: Theory of Mind involves understanding another person’s knowledge, beliefs, emotions, and intentions and using that understanding to navigate social situations.”  Basically, reading literary fiction helps you be more empathetic and we can never have enough of that, right?

Read what you love and intersperse it with something new every once in a while.  All the genres are valuable to us and offer a great deal.  Read widely and you’ll get so much more from your reading.

All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Anders

All the Birds in the Sky has won the Nebula and Locus fantasy awards for best novel this year.  It has been described as a blend of the fantasy, science fiction, and magical realism genres.

James Wallace Harris, in his great review for SF Signal, describes the novel: “I thought All the Birds in the Sky as three weddings: a marriage of science fiction and fantasy, a marriage of YA and adult, and a marriage of genre and literary.”

I would agree with him but ultimately I don’t care all that much about slottingAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders books neatly into any genre.  I’m happy just to go with a story and decide at the end whether or not it worked for me.  This might be because I’m into pretty much all genres as long as the story, writing, and characters are good. For this book: check, check, and check.

All the Birds in the Sky is filled with a lot of great ideas that I would have loved to explore more deeply; ideas related to both the fantasy and science fiction elements of the story.  Like most stories, the primary focus is the evolving relationship between Patricia (the witch) and Laurence (the science geek/inventor).  We follow these very different people through their troubled childhoods, their personal evolutions along diverging paths, and ultimately their reunion in adulthood as they rediscover their friendship, fall in love, and then as they find themselves fighting on opposing sides in a fight to save the world.  The crux of this fight is that each side has placed value on different aspects of how and what should be saved of the world.  Laurence and Patricia must act on what they believe and see where that leaves them.

You will find yourself on one side or the other of the fight.  The question is, what is more important?  Just people or all sentient life forms?  I enjoyed the character development of Patricia and Laurence and I especially enjoyed discovering the two sides of science and magic through these two characters.

All in all it was a quick and enjoyable read.  I liked all the wonderful elements jammed together into this story.

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Artemis by Andy Weir

As soon as I found out Andy Weir had written a new book I knew I had to read it.  I really enjoyed The Martian, Weir’s style and voice make for very entertaining science fiction reading.  As expected, I really enjoyed Artemis. Weir writes wonderful books that can be relied on for interesting and entertaining reads. Artemis is another great story, it’s completely different from The Martian but still delivers the goods we’ve come to love and anticipate from Weir; it’s got great characters, interesting scientific details, and loads of humour.Artemis by Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.” (GoodReads)

I devoured this novel and I reckon if you’ve enjoyed Weir’s previous novel or enjoy science fiction in general this will be right up your alley.  Even if you’re not necessarily a huge fan of science fiction, don’t be put off.  Artemis is essentially a story about people, their lives and relationships, with a smattering of criminal intrigue, and it happens to be set on the Moon.  A very entertaining read.

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was published in 2013 and won the Costa Book Award that year.  It was shortlisted for the 2013 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and a number of other awards that year and the following.  Many readers loved the book back then and I made a note to get to it myself.life after life kate atkinson

Life after Life, as the title suggests, is about Ursula Todd and the many times she lives one life after a multitude of deaths spread throughout her growing up.  The novel progresses and resets as she grows up and we follow Ursula as she lives and dies through WWI, the Spanish Flu epidemic, WWII, the London Blitz, and WWII in Berlin.

“What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can – will she?
Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original – this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.” (GoodReads)

Atkinson has woven a beautiful number of tales in this one novel populated by some really great characters.  Her ability to flesh people and places really makes this book something special.  She creates interesting tension with the progression of each rebirth and each repetition of ‘darkness falls…’.  You can’t help but be intrigued by Ursula, the changes that occur after each rebirth to her and the people in her life, and the events of history.

A wonderful story and a fascinating structure, I definitely recommend this book.

2017 Hugo Award Winner

The 2017 Hugo Awards were presented in Helsinki this year and honoured the very best in Science Fiction.  Of the six finalists, the winner of the Best Novel went to The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin, the second novel of her Broken Earth Series.  This is Jemisin’s second Hugo win in a row.  She won the 2016 Hugo Best Novel Award for The Fifth Season, the first Broken Earth novel.  The Hugos are awarded in a number of other categories and you can see the winners on their site.

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. JemisinThe Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

“The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.” (GoodReads)

 

The 2017 Hugo Best Novel finalists included:

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

2017’s Award Winning Books: The First Half

The literature prizes of the second half of the year are about to start announcing winners.  Before we get into those, here’s a recap of some of the big winners from the first six months of 2017.

La Rose by Louise Erdrich

2017 NBCC Prize Winnerlarose-by-louise-erdrich

North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.
The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.
LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Nola dotes on him, keeping her darkness at bay. His fierce, rebellious new “sister,” Maggie, welcomes him as a co conspirator who can ease her volatile mother’s terrifying moods. Gradually he’s allowed shared visits with his birth family, whose sorrow mirrors the Raviches’ own. As the years pass, LaRose becomes the linchpin linking the Irons and the Raviches, and eventually their mutual pain begins to heal.
But when a vengeful man with a long-standing grudge against Landreaux begins raising trouble, hurling accusations of a cover-up the day Dusty died, he threatens the tenuous peace that has kept these two fragile families whole.” (GoodReads)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.” (GoodReads)

And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile

2017 Etisalat Literature Prize Winner

“During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family. Ajie, the youngest sibling, is burdened with the guilt of having seen Paul last and convinced that his vanished brother was betrayed long ago. But his search for the truth uncovers hidden family secrets and reawakens old, long forgotten ghosts as rumours of police brutality, oil shortages, and frenzied student protests serve as a backdrop to his pursuit.  In a tale that moves seamlessly back and forth through time, Ajie relives a trip to the family’s ancestral village where, together, he and his family listen to the myths of how their people settled there, while the villagers argue over the mysterious Company, who found oil on their land and will do anything to guarantee support. As the story builds towards its stunning conclusion, it becomes clear that only once past and present come to a crossroads will Ajie and his family finally find the answers they have been searching for.  And After Many Days introduces Ile’s spellbinding ability to tightly weave together personal and political loss until, inevitably, the two threads become nearly indistinguishable. It is a masterful story of childhood, of the delicate, complex balance between the powerful and the powerless, and a searing portrait of a community as the old order gives way to the new.”  (GoodReads)

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

2017 PEN Faulkner AwardBehold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

“Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.” (GoodReads)

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

2017 Edgar Award for Best Novel

“On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.
The fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together. “ (GoodReads)

The Fisherman by John Langan

2016 Bram Stoker Award for Best NovelThe Fisherman by John Langan

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.  (GoodReads)

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

2016 Nebula Award for Best NovelAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

A novel about the end of the world–and the beginning of our future.
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.” (GoodReads)

The Power by Naomi Alderman

2017 Baileys Women’s Prize Winner

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
(GoodReads)

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (trans. Jessica Cohen)

2017 Man Booker International Prize Winner

In a little dive in a small Israeli city, Dov Greenstein, a comedian a bit past his prime, is doing a night of stand-up. In the audience is a district court justice, Avishai Lazar, whom Dov knew as a boy, along with a few others who remember Dov as an awkward, scrawny kid who walked on his hands to confound the neighborhood bullies.
Gradually, as it teeters between hilarity and hysteria, Dov’s patter becomes a kind of memoir, taking us back into the terrors of his childhood: we meet his beautiful flower of a mother, a Holocaust survivor in need of constant monitoring, and his punishing father, a striver who had little understanding of his creative son. Finally, recalling his week at a military camp for youth–where Lazar witnessed what would become the central event of Dov’s childhood–Dov describes the indescribable while Lazar wrestles with his own part in the comedian’s story of loss and survival.
Continuing his investigations into how people confront life’s capricious battering, and how art may blossom from it, Grossman delivers a stunning performance in this memorable one-night engagement (jokes in questionable taste included).” (GoodReads)

Have you read any of these yet? Let me know which were your favourites.

Review: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations is a collection of twelve books of the personal writings of Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius.  Aurelius was a practitioner of Stoic philosophy and Meditations is the result of analysis of Stoic philosophy and the application of it to his life.

Don’t despair, the book isn’t nearly as long, boring, or complicated to read as you’d expect.  It is quite the opposite.  Short and to the point; Meditations gets to the heart of the issues Aurelius was contemplating and sets out reminders on how to live a good life.

A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behaviour, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’ insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style.” (GoodReads blurb)

I read Gregory Hays’ translation and in his introduction he describes how philosophy was more than a set of ideas to Aurelius and his contemporaries:

“But philosophy also had a more practical dimension. It was not merely a subject to write or argue about, but one that was expected to provide a “design for living”—a set of rules to live one’s life by.”

Meditations, then, is a kind of journal and serves to remind us of simple truths about how we can best live our lives;  a blueprint for successful living.  I enjoyed reading it; he was my kind of guy.  He contemplated life, death, and change a lot; but he also dealt with the smaller, yet equally important, stuff like handling other people.  For example:

“The best revenge is not to be like that.”

I liked that.  When people talk about Meditations, though, they tend to describe it as life-alteringly profound.  And profound it is; but I think a lot of what you find in Meditations you may have heard in some form before.

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the colour of your thoughts.”

This book is a very eloquent reminder of some key pieces of advice that without doubt will help you in your life but which you may already have encountered.  But read it because he’s an interesting guy and he has a great way of putting things.  It’s a classic for a reason.

There’s some advice we may have forgotten as we continue to industrialise and incorporate technology into our lives:

“The world as a living being—one nature, one soul. Keep that in mind. And how everything feeds into that single experience, moves with a single motion. And how everything helps produce everything else. Spun and woven together.”

Even back then people were aware of how important it is to look after nature and each other because we’re all connected.

All in all, to my relief, Meditations wasn’t what I was expecting.  It was a far easier and more comprehensible book than I was expecting having been written so long ago.  It was a pleasant and highly quotable read.Sav

2017 Baileys Women’s Prize Winner

The 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was awarded last night to Naomi Alderman for her fourth novel, The Power.

The 2017 Chair of Judges, Tessa Ross, said: “The judges and I were thrilled to make this decision. We debated this wonderful shortlist for many hours but kept returning to Naomi Alderman’s brilliantly imagined dystopia – her big ideas and her fantastic imagination.” (Source)

The Power by Naomi Alderman

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
(GoodReads)

Have a look at the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize Shortlist for more reading inspiration.

2016 Nebula Award for Best Novel

The Nebulas honour the best in science fiction and fantasy in a number of categories every year.  This year the honour of Best Novel went to Charlie Jane Anders.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane AndersA novel about the end of the world–and the beginning of our future.
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.” (GoodReads)

You can see the rest of this year’s Nebula winners here.

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2016 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel

The Bram Stoker Awards are awarded every year by the Horror Writers Association to writers of horror and dark fantasy.  This year the award for Best Novel went to John Langan.

The Fisherman by John Langan

The Fisherman by John LanganIn upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.  (GoodReads)

There are a number of other Bram Stoker Award categories, if you’re interested you can have a look at the rest of the 2016 winners here.

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2017 Edgar Award Winners

The Mystery Writers of America have selected the best in the mystery fiction and non fiction genre with the announcement of the 2017 Edgar Award winners.

Best Novel – Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

“On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.
The fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together. “ (GoodReads)

Continue reading 2017 Edgar Award Winners

Reading List: A Journey Through The Spanish Speaking World

If you’re interested in world literature and Spanish culture specifically, this reading list is for you.  As every reader knows, reading is to travel far and wide where we cannot physically go.  I hope this list guides you on a wonderful journey through the Spanish speaking world.

Since the Spanish speaking world includes so many countries, I’ve decided not to organise this list by country but by publication date.  This list includes some of the best of Spanish literature in English translation with entries from the majority of Spanish speaking countries.

Miguel de Cervantes > Don Quixote < 1605

“Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.
With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.””  (GoodReads)

Jorge Luis Borges > Ficciones < 1944

“The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the whirlwind of Borges’s genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his scepticism, and his obsession with fantasy. Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal’s abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything in between.”  (GoodReads)

Continue reading Reading List: A Journey Through The Spanish Speaking World

2017 Man Booker International Shortlist

The six book shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize has been released.  Chair of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, Nick Barley, said:

‘Our shortlist spans the epic and the everyday. From fevered dreams to sleepless nights, from remote islands to overwhelming cities, these wonderful novels shine a light on compelling individuals struggling to make sense of their place in a complex world.’

Compass by Mathias Enard (France), translation: Charlotte Mandell (US)

“As night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the center of these memories is his elusive love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East.
With exhilarating prose and sweeping erudition, Mathias Énard pulls astonishing elements from disparate sources—nineteenth-century composers and esoteric orientalists, Balzac and Agatha Christie—and binds them together in a most magical way.” (GoodReads)

Continue reading 2017 Man Booker International Shortlist

Review: The Element by Ken Robinson

The Element is a popular personal development book about finding your element; the intersection of your natural talent and your personal passions.  This book is often included on lists about creativity and while it features the stories of many creative people, it is not actually about creativity.

The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. The Element draws on the stories of a wide range of people, from ex-Beatle Paul McCartney to Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons; from Meg Ryan to Gillian Lynne, who choreographed the Broadway productions of Cats and The Phantom of the Opera; and from writer Arianna Huffington to renowned physicist Richard Feynman and others, including business leaders and athletes. It explores the components of this new paradigm: The diversity of intelligence, the power of imagination and creativity, and the importance of commitment to our own capabilities.
With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the element and those that stifle that possibility. He shows that age and occupation are no barrier, and that once we have found our path we can help others to do so as well. The Element shows the vital need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination. It is also an essential strategy for transforming education, business, and communities to meet the challenges of living and succeeding in the twenty-first century.
(GoodReads)

The Element is much more about the education system; the shortcomings of a one-size-fits-all system that can’t meet the needs of a varied and diverse society.  Robinson shows us this by collecting the stories of creative and successful people who despite their problems fitting into the education system managed to find success and happiness in finding their element.

The stories are quite interesting.  I especially enjoyed reading the earlier chapters.  The book is very well written and Robinson is an interesting and humorous writer.  Unfortunately, toward the end of the book I began to lose steam because I had different expectations of what this book was about.

It is an interesting and inspiring book, especially so if you’re interested in the education system and changing that system to suit an enlarged definition of intelligence.Save

Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Ivey’s first novel, The Snow Child, was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Nominee.   This lovely story is set in 1920s Alaska and I was initially drawn to it because it had been categorised as magical realism which is one of my favourite genres.

This is a well written story about life; its obstacles and miracles, and love.

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.  (GoodReads)

It was an enjoyable read and a lovely little escape.Sa

2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Here is a selection of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners in the Letters category.  For other category winners, like Journalism and Photography, head to the Pulitzers.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Fiction)

“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.” (GoodReads)

Continue reading 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners