This bighearted, voluptuous, riveting book – one of my favorites of the decade – is filled with contradictions. It tells an apocalyptic and ancient tale but its topic is fresh and timely. It is told without any pretensions yet it’s lyrical and bracing. It focuses on the microcosm of a family under pressure yet its theme is universal and its messages integrate age-old mythologies.

February 8, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, National Book Award Winner, Reading Guide, US South, y Award Winning Author

PIG’S FOOT by Carlos Acosta

Oscar Kortico might be living in the slums of Havana now but the story he narrates is one of voluptuous plenty — populated by a vast array of colorful characters in a seemingly idyllic setting. “In the 1800s Pata de Puerco was just one small corner of a sweeping plain with a few scattered shacks between the Sierra Maestra mountains of Santiago de Cuba and the copper mines of El Cobre,” Kortico says, as he describes the Cuban village where his grandparents settled.

December 29, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Cuba, Debut Novel, Latin American/Caribbean, World Lit


It was probably just a coincidence that we put up our holiday lights today. The setting up of the twinkling bulbs is probably as much of an annual tradition as its other unfortunate side-effect: practically every year, we discover some strands that just don’t work. Now imagine the same scene being played out in every American household. That’s a lot of unwanted strands of Christmas lights. As it happens bales upon bales of these get exported to China, where workers set upon them stripping the wires free of insulation to get at the copper that is one of the most valuable raw commodities a booming China needs. The demand for raw goods — copper, steel, aluminum — in rapidly growing countries like China is fueling a global demand for all kinds of scrap be it metal, plastic and even rags (white rags can be turned into paper).

December 13, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: China, Non-fiction


Who is Ines, an illegal African migrant who embarks on a hazardous sea crossing to Italy and Germany in search of her stolen son? At first, she is a total enigma; we keep wishing there was, indeed, more of her to see. Slowly and painstakingly, her inner identity is revealed in this haunting new book by Lloyd Jones, author of the acclaimed MISTER PIP.

September 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Germany, italy, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

BOXER, BEETLE by Ned Beauman

First-time author Ned Beauman really lays it out there in the first chapter of this extraordinary novel, which begins with an imaginary surprise birthday party thrown by Hitler for Joseph Goebbels in 1940. It is an exhilarating, outrageous opening to a book that will in fact take a quite different course. But it is important as a way of establishing the moral parameters (and this IS a moral book) and freeing up an imaginative space in which Beauman can explore some ideas that are normally unapproachable.

September 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Humorous, Satire, United Kingdom

FALLING SIDEWAYS by Thomas E. Kennedy

In his fantastic and insightful book, On Writing, the prolific writer Stephen King once said: “People love to read about work. God knows why, but they do.”

But what if that work is especially mind-numbing and unfulfilling and involves plodding away at an outfit called the Tank—chatting, shuffling papers, composing reports, sending e-mails and wondering where things went wrong? Would that still make for a readable story? As Thomas Kennedy’s new book, FALLING SIDEWAYS shows, the answer is yes.

March 1, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Denmark, Drift-of-Life, Literary, Reading Guide, World Lit, y Award Winning Author