PIGEON ENGLISH by Stephen Kelman

Around ten years ago, a young Nigerian immigrant, 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, was beaten by boys barely older than him in Peckham, a district in South London. Damilola later bled to death. The incident sparked outrage in the United Kingdom and was subsequently pointed to as proof that the country’s youth had gone terribly astray.

The same incident seems to have also inspired a debut novel, Pigeon English, with 11-year-old Harri Opoku filling in for the voice of Damilola Taylor.

September 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Debut Novel, Facing History, United Kingdom, World Lit

BAD INTENTIONS by Karin Fossum

Karin Fossum’s BAD INTENTIONS is about three friends, now in their twenties, who have known each other since they were six. On the surface, Axel Frimann is by far the most successful. He is well-spoken, good-looking, nicely dressed, and drives a Mercedes; his job at an advertising agency pays well. Philip Reilly, on the other hand, is disheveled, has long, stringy hair (“he looked like a troll from a fairy tale”), and spends a portion of his small salary as a hospital porter getting high. The third member of the trio is Jon Moreno.

August 10, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Norway, Psychological Suspense, Sleuths Series, Translated, y Award Winning Author


One of Zeke Pappas’s biggest heroes is Joseph Cornell, an artist who created “assemblages”—most of Cornell’s work were glass-fronted boxes filled with a stunning variety of found objects. Zeke loves Cornell because he “devoted his life to the collecting the unhappy scraps left behind by others and trying to distill them and make sense of them. Cornell’s work to me is about our abandonment of joy, about our reckless inability to hold on to something meaningful. This is an attempt to find meaning—no, to find magic—in our collective dross, in the castoff and the forgotten,” Zeke says during one of his annual visits to the Cornell boxes collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.

June 16, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Reading Guide, US Midwest


Margaret Drabble is a well-known English novelist. I have read several of her books and have always enjoyed them. I had no idea that she was also a writer of short stories. A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman is the first compilation of her stories that has ever been published. They are presented in chronological order beginning in 1964 and ending in 2000. Like her novels, these stories often deal with the plight of women in their times, the socio-cultural aspects of marriage, and the difficulties that women find themselves in while trying to both raise a family and be successful in the business world. The stories are distinctively English; the countryside of England as well as the urban landscapes are vivid throughout. There is a span of thirty-six years between the first short story and the last, giving the themes a relatively large period of time in which to develop.

May 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Short Stories, United Kingdom, World Lit


Ward Just is a writer’s writer, as straightforward and gritty and no-nonsense as Chicago—the city from which he hails. His solid 17th novel carries a seemingly enigmatic title – Rodin’s Debutante – a curiosity, considering the book has nothing to do with Rodin or debutantes.

But wait – as in much of Ward Just’s work, there is complexity and hidden meaning behind the seeming simplicity.

March 2, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, US Midwest, y Award Winning Author


Nobel laureate Günter Grass has made a career out of fictionalizing the past in order to be better believed… In his latest work, THE BOX: TALES FROM THE DARKROOM, he combines autobiography with magic realism in an oblique view of his entire life as a writer, though without strong political or moral overtones or, frankly, much interest.

November 9, 2010 · Judi Clark · Comments Closed
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Nobel Prize for Literature, Short Stories, Unique Narrative, World Lit, y Award Winning Author