BEFORE I BURN by Gaute Heivoll

Gaute Heivoll has written both a compelling novel and a historical and fact-driven book that examines a series of fires that occurred during two months in 1978 Norway. It is told from the perspective of the author who was born during the year that the arson occurred, as well as from the perspective of the arsonist who was in his twenties when the author was born.

January 29, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Literary, Norway, Translated

ABSOLUTION by Patrick Flanery

Patrick Flanery’s debut novel is a very interesting example of an overarching story that incorporates another “novel” or “memoir,” a journal and more embedded inside it. Set in post-apartheid South Africa Absolution is a thought provoking book, and engaging; not necessarily, or least of all, in the sense one would initially expect.

November 30, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Debut Novel, World Lit

DISASTER WAS MY GOD by Bruce Duffy

I was in my late thirties when the poet Arthur Rimbaud first crossed my horizon. It was Jim Harrison, the American writer, who brought him to my attention. In his memoir OFF TO THE SIDE, Harrison writes, “I think that I was nineteen when Rimbaud’s ‘Everything we are taught is false’ became my modus operandi.” Harrison continues, “…Rimbaud’s defiance of society was vaguely criminal and at nineteen you try to determine what you are by what you are against.” I admire Harrison a great deal. If he liked Rimbaud, if Rimbaud was the man, then I needed to know more.

October 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Facing History, France

NORTHWEST ANGLE by William Kent Krueger

In NORTHWEST ANGLE, William Kent Krueger’s 11th book in the award winning Cork O’Connor series, Cork and his family vacation in September on a houseboat in Canada, near the Northwest Angle area of Minnesota. Cork had hoped that his family, including his three children, Jenny, Annie and Steve and his sister-in-law Rose and her husband Mel, could finally get some time to relax and enjoy each other. They had all suffered the loss of Cork’s wife two year’s prior and they had not yet found any time to spend together especially since his kids had become older and living on their own.

Unfortunately for Cork and his family, the vacation becomes anything but enjoyable when soon after arrival, Cork and his older daughter Jenny become trapped in a major quick forming and very dangerous derecho storm that shipwrecks them on one of the many islands in the area.

October 2, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Family Matters, Literary, PEN/Hemingway Winner, Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper

YOU DESERVE NOTHING by Alexander Maksik

Part school story, part existentialism primer, YOU DESERVE NOTHING, is a deftly told and absorbing debut. Ostensibly, the story of a troubled teacher who goes too far, YOU DESERVE NOTHING is also a thoughtful examination of moral education, of the ways in which we learn to navigate the minefield between duty and freedom, courage and cowardice, the self and the persona.

September 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Literary

ALL IS FORGOTTEN, NOTHING IS LOST by Lan Samantha Chang

This is a beautiful book. If you want to read something that has the same effect as gazing at a vast and perfect ink-wash painting, calming and yet utterly absorbing, reach for this. Like the tiniest haze of seeping ink will be skillful enough to convey a distant village nestling in the hills, or the flight of a crane; there is not a word misplaced in this small and lovely work. Its theme is poetry, and indeed the exquisite style does full justice to the subject.

September 12, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary