BLUE ASYLUM by Kathy Hepinstall

This is Kathy Hepinstall’s fourth novel… and I’ve read all four, so obviously I like this author. She writes a different book each time and thus one never knows what will be found upon picking up her latest, although one can be sure it will be both literary and lyrical, no matter the tone and subject.

BLUE ASYLUM takes place during the Civil War years on Sanibel Island on the west coast of Florida.

February 9, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Facing History, Literary, Reading Guide, Theme driven, US South

HAPPINESS, LIKE WATER by Chinelo Okparanta

Chinelo Okparanta came to my attention after her story, America, was a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. It tells the touching story of a very special friendship between two young women that challenges Nigerian traditions and social conventions… America has been published as one of ten stories in this, her first collection, Happiness, like Water. Okparanta is without a doubt becoming a promising representative of the new generation of Nigerian and African writers who are giving growing prominence to the field of African short fiction writing.

January 12, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Short Stories, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

ALL THE LIGHT THERE WAS by Nancy Kricorian

The setting is World War II Paris — when the Germans begin their occupation of the city, the protagonist of this story is just turning sixteen. Maral Pegorian and her older brother, Missak, are part of an Armenian family displaced to France after the Armenian genocide. They are stateless refugees and have made the suburb of Belleville in Paris, their home. Maral’s father is a cobbler and owns a small shoe shop hoping to one day pass on his skills to his son.

January 7, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Facing History, France, Reading Guide

ALL THE LAND TO HOLD US by Rick Bass

ALL THE LAND TO HOLD US is an apt title whose protagonist is the land – and it is a strange and powerful land. The harsh desert environment of West Texas is extremely arid, bitter and bleak. This environment shapes much of the novel’s character and the characters’ characters. The area receives much less rainfall than the rest of Texas and the temperature has been known to hit 120ºF in the summer. “An easterner, after making the stage trip and experiencing the danger of Horsehead and the Trans-Pecos country, wrote to friends back home that he now knew where hell was.” The setting also includes Castle Gap and Juan Cordoba Lake, an inland salt lake.

December 23, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Literary, Texas, US Southwest, Wild West

THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2011 edited by Geraldine Brooks

This year’s editor of THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2011 is Geraldine Brooks, an accomplished journalist and fiction writer. She says of her selections “that the easiest and the first choices were the stories to which I had a physical response.” I would agree that the best stories in this collection are those that are most visceral and physical in nature. Ms. Brooks also states that “In the end, the stories I fell upon with perhaps the greatest delight were the outliers, the handful or so that defied the overwhelming gravitational pull toward small-canvas contemporary realism.”

October 5, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Short Stories

CAIN by Jose Saramago

Saramago’s last, indeed posthumous, book is a real treat. Brief, inventive, funny, it furthers the author’s well-known distaste for religious dogma by traversing many of the familiar stories of the Old Testament by means of a fanciful parable told from a rational point of view. Much like The Elephant’s Journey, it shows Saramago’s stylistic fingerprints in relaxed form.

October 4, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Alternate History, Humorous, Satire, Translated, World Lit, y Award Winning Author