Belgian author Amélie Nothomb came to my attention a few years ago through a French film. The film, Fear and Trembling (which is excellent, by the way) is based on Nothomb’s biographical experiences–specifically when she worked for a Japanese company in Tokyo. HYGIENE AND ASSASSIN is Nothomb’s first novel, originally published in 1992.

November 11, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Debut Novel, France, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

GOD ON THE ROCKS by Jane Gardam

And so begins the delightful 1978 novel by Jane Gardam, with an exquisitely described trip on a local train that “went slowly, see-sawing from side to side in the dusty coach with blinds with buttoned ends and a stiff leather strap arched like a tongue on the carriage door,” a pitch-perfect evocation of Britain between the Wars. What begins for Margaret Marsh is nothing less than the gradual opening of her eyes to the complexity of the adult world.

October 27, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Facing History, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

THE ART OF LOSING by Rebecca Connell

Rebecca Connell has written a finely fraught literary thriller and romance in her debut novel, THE ART OF LOSING. It examines the legacy of loss and betrayal and the extent to which a person will go to seek out the truth.

October 1, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Thriller/Spy/Caper, United Kingdom

BANDIT LOVE by Massimo Carlotto

If you’re a fan of Italian crime fiction, then reading Massimo Carlotto is a necessity. This author dubbed the “king of Mediterranean Noir” creates bleak worlds in which his Nietzschean anti-heroes struggle to survive.

BANDIT LOVE has the feel of a buddy novel, but the relationship of those buddies is entrenched in past lives of crime. The buddies in the novel are ex-con turned unlicensed PI Marco Burrati (aka the Alligator), gangster Beniamino Rossini, and Max la Memoria (Max the Memory). Burrati and Max, now trying to go straight, are co-owners of a bar named La Cuccia, and here Max the Memory (also known as the Fat Man) endlessly cooks his favourite recipes.

September 29, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: italy, Mystery/Suspense, Noir, Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper

THE WOMAN WITH THE BOUQUET by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

In this title short story, “The Woman with the Bouquet,” Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt blends his trademark elements of fairy tale romance, pathos, and fatedness. It radiates mystery and romanticism but also a ghostly bit of menace, and it cuts to a marrow of sorrow. It appeals to our curiosity about the “obsessing” people in this world who will not be moved from their own missions, and simultaneously it reminds us that time spent waiting for something is time not spent doing something else more “constructive.” Loyalty and love would seem to be the motivators of the woman, but perhaps she just is retiring from the world by standing there every day?

September 25, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: France, Short Stories, Translated

THE COMPANION by Lorcan Roche

Trevor is a young Irishman in New York City. A film-school dropout with a checkered past, he is also a born storyteller whose life, both past and present, plays out in short takes of absurdity, abandonment, and aggression, with brief moments of wonder and wisdom thrown in — not an atypical first-time reaction to Manhattan. Voices speak to him in the soundtrack tones of James Mason or Bob Hoskins as he picks up the outtakes of his life from the cutting-room floor. And in calling him a born storyteller, I should also mention that he is one of the most unreliable narrators one is likely to encounter; most of the book will be spent distinguishing the truth from the falsehoods. As he himself admits: “We lie to protect. We lie to inure. To keep on going we have to lie.”

September 4, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, New York City