THE LAND AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Antonio Lobo Antunes

In 1971, Lobo Antunes, recently qualified as a doctor, was drafted into the Portuguese army and sent for two years to Angola, mired already for a decade in a bloody war of independence. Six years after his return, he used this experience for his second novel; it now appears in a magnificent translation by Margaret Jull Costa, whom readers will know from her work with José Saramago.

May 23, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Unique Narrative, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE FREE WORLD by David Bezmozgis

Bezmozgis, born in Riga, Latvia, in 1973, centers this darkly humorous novel on the close-knit, irascible Krasnansky family as they emigrate from Soviet Latvia in 1978, joining the flood of Russian Jews seeking a better life elsewhere. Their way-station on this way to peace and plenty in Canada, America, Australia, Israel – somewhere – is Rome.

There are six adult Krasnanskys and two children. Battle-scarred Samuil, revolutionary and staunch communist, is the literal founder of the Krasnansky dynasty, having shed the family name – Eisner – and taken Krasnansky for “its evocation of the Communist color.”

May 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Family Matters, Literary, World Lit

SWIM BACK TO ME by Ann Packer

Ann Packer’s newest book, SWIM BACK TO ME, is comprised of a novella and five short stories. They are all “emotionally searing stories” dealing with issues of intimacy, misunderstandings that cause distancing, betrayals, and the problems that people have with understanding and knowing one another. Each story is strong and brilliant.

May 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: California, Coming-of-Age, Literary, Reading Guide, Short Stories

STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has written a number of novels that feature ex-cop turned PI Jackson Brodie: CASE HISTORIES, ONE GOOD TURN, WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, and now the fourth novel, STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG. I had read a total of zero novels in the series when I picked up Atkinson’s latest. This is a novel that can be read as a stand-alone, and although there were threads to the other stories, Atkinson’s novel is so very well-written, it’s not essential to begin with the first novel in the series.

STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG is ostensibly a crime novel, but to try and slot this excellent tale into such a neat and ultimately limiting definition is a mistake. While crimes take place, the emphasis is on the crimes that slip silently into simple everyday living: cruelty, casual violence, lying and possibly most importantly–failing to take a moral stand.

March 21, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Noir, Reading Guide, Sleuths Series, Theme driven, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

WRECKER by Summer Wood

WRECKER takes place primarily in the Mattole Valley in northern California from 1965 through the 1980’s. It is the story of a commune called Bow Farm and of the people who live there, held together by their love of a boy named Wrecker who comes to them unexpectedly and grows to be the glue that keeps them all together.

February 17, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: California, Contemporary, Family Matters

ANNABEL by Kathleen Winter

Being born a hermaphrodite is a very hard road to hoe. It is especially hard when you are born in remote Labrador in 1968. The nearest specialist is miles away and living in a town that does not relish diversity. Even today, in large urban areas, there is a lot of controversy about what to do about gender when an infant is born with ambiguous sex organs. Some doctors utilize blood tests to determine gender and others go by outward appearance. A true hermaphrodite is born one in 81,000 births.

January 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Canada, Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Reading Guide