The Man Booker International Prize 2016 Shortlist Announced

The Man Booker International Prize has revealed the shortlist of six books in contention for the 2016 Prize, celebrating the finest in global fiction. Each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000, while the £50,000 prize will be divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning entry.

The 2016 Man Booker International Shortlist 

Title (imprint) Author (nationality) Translator (nationality)

A General Theory of Oblivion (Harvill Secker), José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), Daniel Hahn (UK)

The Story of the Lost Child (Europa Editions), Elena Ferrante (Italy), Ann Goldstein (USA)

The Vegetarian (Portobello Books), Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith (UK)

A Strangeness in My Mind (Faber & Faber), Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), Ekin Oklap (Turkey)

A Whole Life (Picador), Robert Seethaler (Austria), Charlotte Collins (UK)

The Four Books (Chatto & Windus), Yan Lianke  (China), Carlos Rojas (USA)

Settings range from war-torn Angola to Naples terrorised by the Camorra, from the mountains of Austria to the growing sprawl of Istanbul and from metamorphosis in South Korea to allegorical transformation during the Great Famine in China.

Five of the authors have been nominated for the first time (Yan appeared on the list of finalists in 2013). The nominees include two winners of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: Agualusa (2007) and Pamuk (1990) who also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. It is the first appearance on a Man Booker International Prize list for writers from Angola, Austria, South Korea and Turkey.

The translators are predominantly female and of UK or US descent. The youngest are Turkish-born Londoner Ekin Oklap (27) and Deborah Smith (28) who only started learning Korean at the age of 21.

Three independent publishers, Europa Editions, Faber & Faber and Portobello Books, have made it to the shortlist. Penguin Random House has two novels through the imprints Chatto & Windus and Harvill Secker, while Pan Macmillan’s imprint Picador has the final place on the list.

Announcing the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner

Congratulations to James Hannaham, winner of the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his novel Delicious Foods (Little, Brown), and congratulations again to our four finalists:

Julie Iromuanya for Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press)

Viet Thanh Nguyen for The Sympathizer (Grove Atlantic)

Elizabeth Tallent for Mendocino Fire (HarperCollins)

Luis Alberto Urrea for The Water Museum (Little, Brown)

About the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Winner and Finalists:

Delicious Foods
(Little, Brown)

James Hannaham’s Delicious Foods is at once a sweeping American tale of race and exploitation, a darkly comedic thriller, and an intimate portrayal of a troubled mother and her damaged son. The narrative follows the lives of Darlene, a woman left ruined after the traumatic death of her husband; Eddie, her young son; and Scotty, crack cocaine personified, who threatens to destroy them both. After Darlene’s husband, a black civil activist, is murdered in a sleepy town in Louisiana, it is not long before Darlene’s grief drives her to drugs. Once she embarks on this dangerous path, crack addiction soon becomes sole motivating force of Darlene’s life, driving her into de facto enslavement at a farm called Delicious Foods. Hannaham is unafraid of the complex and the horrible, and yet his novel shines in its intimate details. Praising the novel in the New York Times, Ted Genoways writes, “The novel’s finest moments are…in the singular way that Hannaham can make the commonplace spring to life with nothing more than astute observation and precise language.”

James Hannaham is a journalist, critic and fiction writer, and is the author of the novel God Says No. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing at the Pratt Institute.


Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
(Coffee House Press)

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, Julie Iromuanya’s first novel, begins with an enormous lie. Job, a Nigerian immigrant to the United States, has told his family in Nigeria that he is a doctor – and they’ve found him a wife who believes the same. The only problem is, Job never finished college. He’s a nursing assistant in Omaha, Nebraska, and he’s about to bring his new partner, Ifi, into an American life very different from the one she expects. Iromuanya takes on marriage and immigration with a keen eye for detail, a razor-sharp sense of humor, and a constant undercurrent of empathy for her characters and their ever-mounting lies.

Julie Iromuanya was born and raised in the Midwest, the daughter of Igbo Nigerian immigrants. She holds a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was a Presidential Fellow and award-winning teacher, and was the inaugural Herbert W. Martin fellow at the University of Dayton. She now teaches in the MFA program at the University of Arizona, where she is an assistant professor of English and Africana literature.


The Sympathizer
(Grove Atlantic)

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s startling debut novel, The Sympathizerbegins with the words, “I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.” What follows is the written confession of a North Vietnamese sleeper agent who, working as an attaché to a South Vietnamese general in the last days of The American War, flees to Los Angeles just before the fall of Saigon. There he remains a Communist mole and reports back to his handlers on a plot to return and overthrow the North Vietnamese regime. The Sympathizer evades easy categorization: it is a spy novel, a thriller, a picaresque tale of refugee life, and a cultural satire. But above all it is a propulsive meditation on the compromised and debased choices wrought by extreme politics and war. Philip Caputo writes that The Sympathizer “fills a void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of 40 years ago in a new light.”

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in the United States. He is the author of the academic book Race and Resistance, and his stories have appeared in Best New American VoicesTriQuarterly, and the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches at the University of Southern California.


Mendocino Fire

Elizabeth Tallent’s evocative collection of stories, Mendocino Fire, opens with a young fisherman struggling with an overbearing father and his own involvement with illegal abalone fishing, and ends with an estranged daughter trying desperately to get to her father’s bedside during a blizzard. In between are stories narrated by a Virginia Woolf scholar, a mill worker, a creative writing student, and a tree-sitter who has made a redwood home for over 140 days – just to name a few. What the ten stories that make up Mendocino Fire all share is the world we live in: one of turbulent change and ecological peril. Each character leaves us gasping, because no matter what their story, Tallent peers into their inner lives with acuity and profound understanding.

This collection is Elizabeth Tallent’s first in 23 years; her others include Honey, Time with Children, and In Constant Flight, as well as the novel Museum Pieces. She has taught since 1989 in Stanford University’s Creative Writing program and lives on the Mendocino coast in California.


The Water Museum
(Little, Brown)

The Water Museum, award-winning novelist, nonfiction writer, and poet Luis Urrea’s most recent short story collection, is rooted in the American West and Southwest, from the rural Idaho of “Mountains Without Number” to the fractured San Diego of “The Southside Raza Image Federation Corps of Discovery.” Urrea combines violence with humor, drama with intimate observation, and fiction with rock and roll. He loves his characters and he loves his landscape, and it shows. NPR’s Michael Schaub calls him “compassionate but hard-edged, a kind of literary badass who still believes in love… The Water Museum is a brilliant, powerful collection, and Luis Alberto Urrea is a master storyteller.”

Luis Alberto Urrea, who was born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, is a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame. He is the author of 14 books, including The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Six Kinds of Sky, and Into the Beautiful North. He lives with his family in Napierville, Illinois, and teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

A list of past winners and finalists of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction can be found here.

Book review: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

The Story of the Lost ChildThe Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the final part of the L’amica geniale tetralogy .

The lives of Elena and Lila comes to a climax with an inexorable end of their stories.

I wouldn’t mind if the author could condense these 4 books in only 2 two books.

This book is indicated at the Man Booker International Prize Nominee for Longlist (2016)

4* My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1) – see my review here.
3* The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels, #2) – see my review here.
3* Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels, #3) – see my review here.
4* The Story of the Lost Child
TR Troubling Love
TR The Days of Abandonment

There is a lot of speculations about the real identity of Elena Ferrante: does it really matters? Who is the real Italian novelist writing as Elena Ferrante? As the fame of the Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay author grows, so does the guessing game about her identity….


The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction: The 2016 Shortlist is announced!

The 2016 Shortlist is announced!

23rd March, 2016


The shortlist for the 2016 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction has been announced!  The six books are:

SWEET CARESS by William Boyd (Bloomsbury)

A PLACE CALLED WINTER by Patrick Gale (Tinder Press)

MRS ENGELS by Gavin McCrea (Scribe UK)

END GAMES IN BORDEAUX by Allan Massie (Quartet)

TIGHTROPE by Simon Mawer (Little,Brown)

SALT CREEK by Lucy Treloar (Picador Australia)

Announcing the shortlist, the Judges said:

“Each place in our shortlist was hard fought, as it has been another exceptional year for historical fiction. This embarrassment of riches forced us to focus our lens more closely on fiction which evokes an authentic atmosphere of the past, rather than that which solely deals with the nature of memory.

“The six books we have chosen are certainly evocative – transporting us from the Great Northern prairies to the South Australian coast, via a wide sweep across pre-war and post-war Europe – but they also tell great stories, and bring periods of history alive, much as Walter Scott did in his time.”

The winner will be announced and awarded at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival in Melrose on Saturday 18th June 2016.

Book review: Sylvia’s Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell

Sylvia's LoversSylvia’s Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell

From BBC Radio 4:
1/2: Sylvia Dobson’s cousin, Philip, lives for her, he loves her totally but Sylvia is in love with seafaring whaler, Charlie Kinraid. Gaskell’s last (completed) novel is set in Yorkshire. Set in the 1790’s – the time of the Napoleonic wars. It takes place in Monkshaven (ie.Whitby). The Press Gangs were always lurking when the whale boats were returning from Greenland with their cargo. They intercepted the boats, seized the men and pressed them into service with the Royal Navy to fight the French.

2/2: Sylvia marries Philip, believing Charlie to be dead. But chaos descends when Charlie returns, and Sylvia discovers Philip has lied to her. Set in Yorkshire in the 1790’s – the time of the Napoleonic wars, in Monkshaven (ie.Whitby), during the time of the Press Gangs, who intercepted the fishing boats, seized the men and pressed them into service with the Royal Navy to fight the French.

Elizabeth Gaskell …… Barbara Flynn
Sylvia …… Jodie Comer
Philip …… Graeme Hawley
Charlie Kinraid …… Chris Connel
Bell …… Siobhan Finneran
Daniel ….. Paul CopleySylvia’s Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell
Dramatised by Ellen Dryden

Kester/Donkin …… Jonathan Keeble
Molly …… Nichola Burley
Mrs. Corney ……. Olwen May
Produced/directed by Pauline Harris.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

4* North and South
2* Mary Barton
4* Wives And Daughters
3* Cranford
4* Curious, If True: Strange Tales
2* Ruth
3* Right at Last
CR Sylvia’s Lovers
TR My Lady Ludlow
TR The Life of Charlotte Brontë

Baileys prize longlists self-published debut and 10 other first novels

Women’s prize for fiction announces field of 20 that also includes work by major names including Kate Atkinson and Anne Enright

Reading widely the Baileys women’s prize for fiction announces its 2016 longlist as chosen by this year’s judging panel (L-R): Naga Munchetty, Tracey Thorn, Margaret Mountford (chair), Elif Shafak and Laurie Penny.
 Reading widely the Baileys women’s prize for fiction announces its 2016 longlist as chosen by this year’s judging panel (L-R): Naga Munchetty, Tracey Thorn, Margaret Mountford (chair), Elif Shafak and Laurie Penny.

Four years ago, technical writer Becky Chambers had run out of paying work, and turned to crowdfunding to raise the $2,500 (£1,750) she needed to finish writing her debut novel. Now her space opera has been longlisted for the Baileys women’s prize for fiction, alongside works by some of the most garlanded names writing today, from Anne Enright to Kate Atkinson.

In 2012, the American writer had asked Kickstarter for the money she needed, to give her “two months of mornings dedicated to finishing” The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. “I found myself in a jam. I was out of paying work until June, and I didn’t know how I was going to make a book happen without losing sanity and shelter in the process,” she wrote at the time. She secured the funds and initially self-published the novel, in which a ship of wormhole builders travels the galaxy, making holes in space. She went on to land a deal with Hodder & Stoughton.

On Tuesday, her novel was one of 20 books longlisted for the £30,000 Baileys prize, which celebrates fiction by women writing in English, and which has been won in the past by Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver and Eimear McBride. Eleven debut novels were chosen for the longlist, from Chambers’ space opera to film director Hannah Rothschild’s The Improbability of Love, about a woman who discovers a lost masterpiece in a secondhand shop, and psychotherapist Rachel Elliott’sWhispers Through a Megaphone, about an unlikely friendship between timid Ralph and Miriam, who has not left her house in three years. The number of debut novels selected is the highest since 2000, when the longlist also ran to 11.

A host of major names also made the cut in a field of condenders praised for their imaginative scope and ambition by chair of judges Margaret Mountford, the former lawyer who gained a cult following on The Apprentice. Booker winner Enright was picked for The Green Road, about the return home for Christmas of the adult children of Rosaleen Madigan; Costa winner Atkinson for A God in Ruins, the follow-up to her award-winning Life After Life, and Hanya Yanagihara for A Little Life, in which the unspeakable childhood of a graduate is slowly revealed.

Pulitzer winner Geraldine Brooks was longlisted for The Secret Chord, and Petina Gappah, winner of the Guardian first book award, for The Book of Memory, narrated by an albino woman convicted of murder and held in a maximum security prison in Harare. Gappah is the first Zimbabwean author to be longlisted for the prize.

The 20 books on the 2016 longlist for the Baileys women’s prize for fiction.
 The 20 books on the 2016 longlist for the Baileys women’s prize for fiction.

“Over half of our longlist is debut writers, but at the same time we have well-established names,” said judge and novelist Elif Shafak, who together with Mountford is on the judging panel for the prize, alongside singer and writer Tracey Thorn and journalists Naga Munchetty and Laurie Penny. “The longlist shows that you don’t have to start out with a big publishing house.”

With over 170 novels read by judges, Shafak said that many dealt with the past, “and how the past continues to live in the present”, with family also “a very important theme … Many of the books we read were taking a very complex look at family relationships, how complicated it all is, how children and the younger generations take on the burden of the past.”

The Baileys is in its 21st year, but Shafak insists that there is still a need for the award set up by novelist Kate Mosse after the 1991 Booker prize shortlist failed to feature a single female author. “I very wholeheartedly believe we need the Baileys until complete equality is achieved,” said Shafak. “At first glance the books world is very open-minded and egalitarian, but when you see the number of reviews of books by women in mainstream publications” – analysis of literary coverage has found reviews are skewed heavily towards books by men, reviewed by men – “you realise there is still an inequality.”

The shortlist for the Baileys, which was formerly known as the Orange prize, will be revealed on 11 April, with the winner announced on 8 June.

The 2016 Baileys prize longlist

A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson (UK)

Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett (Australia)

Ruby by Cynthia Bond (US)

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks(Australia/US)

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (US)

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton (UK)

Whispering Through a Megaphone by Rachel Elliot (UK)

The Green Road by Anne Enright (Ireland)

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy (UK/Serbia)

The Anatomist’s Dream by Clio Gray (UK)

At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison (UK)

Pleasantville by Attica Locke (US)

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney (Ireland)

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie (US)

Girl at War by Sara Nović (US)

The House on the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester (UK)

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild (UK)

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (US)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (US)

Stella prize 2016 announces shortlist of six books by Australian women

Shortlisted authors, including Fiona Wright, Elizabeth Harrower and Charlotte Wood, each pick up $2,000 before main prize announced in April

Fiona Wright, Elizabeth Harrower and Charlotte Wood are on the Stella Prize shortlist.
 (L-R) Fiona Wright, Elizabeth Harrower and Charlotte Wood are on the Stella Prize shortlist. Photograph: Stella Prize

The Stella prize has announced six books by Australian women, including Elizabeth Harrower, Charlotte Wood and Fiona Wright, for their 2016 shortlist.

The shortlisted books are Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight, Hope Farm by Peggy Frew, A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories by Elizabeth Harrower, The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau, The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood and Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright.

The winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced on 19 April. However, each of the six writers has already won $2,000 for being shortlisted, along with a three-week writing retreat at a house in Point Addis, Victoria.

The judges were the author and academic Brenda Walker, the writer and social commentator Emily Maguire, the writer and essayist Alice Pung, the literary critic and author Geordie Williamson and the bookseller and founder of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Suzy Wilson.

Walker, the chair of the 2016 judging panel, said it had been a “vibrant year” for Australian women’s writings.

“The books on the 2016 Stella prize shortlist are all exceptionally strong: finely composed and compassionate literary investigations of the fate of individuals interacting with the natural world and with social authority; with protection and self-protection in complicated environments; with the hard-won joy of living.”

The Stella prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature and was awarded for the first time in 2013 to Carrie Tiffany for Mateship With Birds. Other former winners include Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (2014)and Emily Bitto for The Strays (2015).

Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight
The 10 stories in this collection take the reader through the six bedrooms of teenagers. A cast of feckless, brilliant and believable characters experience first sexual encounters, illness, death and grief. All the stories in Six Bedrooms connect the reader with the world of adolescence, in a strong and urgent representation of the vulnerabilities and the loneliness of the young.

Tegan Bennett Daylight navigates her territory with great energy and skill. Her writing is fine-edged and precise, delivering an insider’s view of the minutiae of teenage lives. These stories elicit great concern for the young, and also for the state of parenthood. They are thoughtful, full of understanding about situations and motivations, and, almost painfully, believable.

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew
Hope Farm concerns 13-year-old Silver, who has spent her life being moved from ashram to ashram and commune to commune by her mother Ishtar. In 1985 the latest move – at the urging of her mother’s new lover – is to Hope Farm, a run-down, weed-strewn property in rural Victoria, where the commune’s adults stubbornly cling to the faded promise of their ideals.

Peggy Frew displays an acute understanding of the powerlessness of a child: Silver is at the mercy of adults who are oblivious to the depth of her emotions and strength of her intellect. She also portrays the sometimes pathetic, sometimes funny, sometimes harmful actions of the book’s adults, without allowing them to become caricatures or villains. In spite of its darkness, Hope Farm is written in prose infused with love and wonder for the world.

A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories by Elizabeth Harrower
Elizabeth Harrower’s short fiction, gathered for the first time in A Few Days in the Country, is as vibrant today as when it was first published some decades ago. She convincingly depicts a dark and often unacknowledged side of human behaviour: from a glamorous couple who might be termed psychopathic in contemporary times, to petty acts of vindictiveness perpetuated by characters with domestic authority, each story is a glimpse into the way power can work in individual lives. There are also tender tales about the anxieties of friendship and burgeoning adulthood.

This is a superlative collection, written with great clarity and precision and an understanding of the subterranean intensities of human interactions. It gathers together a constellation of stories from a variety of sources and exhibits the unerring skill of one of Australia’s most significant writers.

The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau
Set on the north coast of NSW in the aftermath of a young girl’s death from cancer, The World Without Us traces the varying effects of grief on the remaining members of her family while emphasising the wider world in which those lives are embedded: a world in which ecological breakdown operates both as metaphor and disturbing fact. Mireille Juchau uses anxieties about the fragility of the natural systems that sustain our lives as a referent for her story of love and loss.

The World Without Us is an acute portrait of individuals who persist in the aftermath of loss, recorded in prose that is witty and self-aware, and capable of making poetry from the most mundane aspects of the everyday. It is a book that reminds us that a single human loss can fall with terrible force on those who are left behind.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
In The Natural Way of Things 10 women are imprisoned on an isolated property, forced into hard labour in scorching heat while wearing rough uniforms and vision-impairing bonnets. They are given no reason for their incarceration, but they gradually determine that each has been involved in a public sex scandal, making them dangerous, embarrassing or inconvenient to men who have the power to punish them. As their food runs out and it becomes evident that their guards have also been abandoned by whatever power placed them there, the women are forced to look to each other for survival.

Exposing the threads of misogyny, cowardice and abuses of power embedded in contemporary society, this is a confronting, sometimes deeply painful novel to read. With an unflinching eye and audacious imagination, Charlotte Wood carries us from a nightmare of helplessness and despair to a fantasy of revenge and reckoning.

Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright
Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of essays on anorexia, a disorder as disturbing as it is mysterious, even to its own sufferers. Documenting Fiona Wright’s experience from the beginning of her affliction, when she was a student, to her hospitalisation with a life-threateningly extreme version of the illness, the essays display a candour and an intelligence that describe the course of illness with great precision and illuminate the sufferer’s motives and actions over time.

The narrative is crosshatched with other experiences and subjects: travel, autobiography, and literature – in particular writers who have used their art to anatomise the extremity of compulsion. The range of Wright’s research, from contemporary neurobiologists to old-school modernists, and the quality of her insights make Small Acts of Disappearance a valuable book. Wright brings a sometimes melancholy, sometimes comic, well-informed honesty to an important subject.