Spent the day revisiting the transcript of my interview with one of my new favorite writers, Victor LaValle, on his new book The Changeling, a finalist for a PEN America award! This will be Book Club Advisor’s first interview to be featured on literary journal’s blog, one of my favorite literary journals…stay tuned for more details soon!
Car bombs. Lost limbs. A strange man is gathering them up for something that is going to turn Baghdad upside down. When the body comes to life, each body part has an act to grind. What could be a slasher tale is an intricate examination of the human heart, war, and the roles everyone plays in revenge and peace. Structured with deference to the original, it is still fresh, reimagined, and just as horrifying and heartbreaking and culturally relevant. Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Ahmed Saadawi, a film director and writer, has reimagined a classic for our age, one that will be a touchstone for the discussion of Frankenstein for years to come.
Favorite quotations for discussion:
“…all the security incidents and tragedies we’re seeing stem from one thing—fear.” (P.123)
“They didn’t know anything about him, but they were driven by that latent hatred that can suddenly come to the surface when people meet someone who doesn’t fit in.” (P. 131)
“I was careful about the pieces of flesh that were used to repair my body. I made sure my assistants didn’t bring any flesh that was illegitimate—in other words, the flesh of criminals, but who’s to say how criminal someone is?” (P. 156)
“Anyone who puts on a crown, even as an experiment, will end up looking for a kingdom.” (P.181)
Today I had the wonderful pleasure of having lunch with the fabulous A. M. Rose to celebrate the birthday of her new novel. Her debut young adult novel is now officially published and on sale! As a friend and colleague I’ve loved seeing her journey from dedicated writer to published author. We celebrated with lunch and cupcakes today and talked a bit about her novel, her process, music, and other writerly miscellany.
Drea feels like she is always making the wrong moves. With a dad who adores her and a mom she can’t please, she is always doing the dance of trying to fit in with the people she loves. Especially with Dylan. Dylan, her drool-worthy best friend who has been there forever. But does she love him? Or are they destined to be stuck in the friend zone? When her nightmares begin to blur into her daytime world, and she develops new amazing powers, (who surfs perfectly their first time, suddenly parkour?) Drea is not sure she even fits on this planet. As her mysterious past begins to collide with her quickly changing present, she is caught between two worlds, and two cute boys all while dealing with incredible loss. Drea is strong character who tackles the world fearlessly (or at least stuffing down the fear and going on to kick %^$ anyway). You will rush on reading to find out the answers with Drea.
A.M. Rose and I chatted over delish cupcakes…
Christine, your Book Club Advisor: What is your favorite scene?
Rose: I love the scene with her father at breakfast. The relationship they have and how they get along, and just that connection. I love it. I also love the scene when she comes home from the hospital and grief is rolling over her, all five stages at once. I love all the levels you see in her, and how grief is such a complicated thing. My favorite scene with Dylan is after she finishes working with her new special powers and she asks him to stay and hold her for the night.
BCA: I love all those scenes as well. Her and her father’s relationship is so great. And the tension between Dylan and Drea in that scene in his room is so perfect. High school romance butterflies, when the whole world depends on what someone says to you, and always trying to figure out what is not being said, and what it means. Tingles!
I stayed afloat during 2017 for one reason only, human connection between myself and authors I admire and falling into books that gave me hope, let me cry, and let me hide between calls (all the calls) to my congressmen, fighting for my rights and the rights of others. Trying to hold extended family close to my heart when differences were tearing us apart, and generally trying not to slip into apathy and resignation was a full-time job. Here are just a few of the interviews and books that kept me afloat (click on author interviews in the blog menu for even more). May they encourage, shelter, challenge, and set you an a strong course for the coming year.
Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series and the new fantasy, The Bloodprint, talks generational trauma, revenge, and healing across time and continents.
Rafi Mittlefehldt, author of the gorgeous YA coming of age novel, It Looks Like This, talks family connections, religious rifts, and the danger and survival of belonging.
Dorit Rabinyan, international bestselling author of All the Rivers, talks integrating visual art into a narrative and finding other’s humanity admist chaos.
Some Favorite Reads:
Mothers, Tell Your Daughersby Bonnie Jo Campbell (Short stories about families, rural life, and the truths we hide from ourselves)
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (a young girl explores her identity as a lesbian in Nigeria while trying to maintain the powerful connection with her mother and society)
The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs (essays on infertility, family, sociology, and the inter workings of the human heart)
Liat and Himli meet in a New York City coffee shop. Liat is an Israeli on a Fulbright scholarship. Himli, a Palestinian, is an artist, wild in hair and spirit, and the two are instantly attracted.
As they grow closer, and as Liat’s visa comes closer to expiration, so does their relationship, for meeting back in Palestine or Israel seems as impossible as the fate that brought them together. When the unthinkable occurs, Liat is left to tell the story. Continue reading “Forbidden Love”
For some the word mother is comfort. For some it is fear. For some it is heartbreak. For many of us it is all of those things at the same time and then some. In this searing collection of short stories, Bonnie Jo Campbell lets us into the lives of mothers, daughters, grandparents, sisters, husbands, kids and all the people who make up our modern families who are trying to survive as best they can. Taking an unflinching view at post-industrial America, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters is a collection of voices that will stay with you long after the story is over. Continue reading “Family is Complicated”
“There is no way to tell the story of what happened with Amina without first telling the story of Mama’s sending me off…if the sending away had not occurred, then I might never have met Amina. If I had not met Amina, who knows, there might be no story at all to tell.”
So begins the coming of age story of Ijeoma, a young girl at the end of the civil war in Nigeria. Although the war has ended, a new war is beginning, a quiet war but equally devastating, a war of generations and beliefs, the growing up and away and back again between daughter and mother and daughter becoming mother.
Ijeoma is placed as household help with another child of war, Amina. Amina is Hausa. Ijeoma is Igbo. The are both girls. And they fall desperately in love. Their relationship will send shockwaves out into both girl’s futures.
In lush prose, Chinelo Okparanta takes an unflinching look at the lack of freedom of LGBTQIA people in Nigeria, set on the small but powerful stage of two unbreakable relationships, Ijeoma and her mother and Ijeoma and her identity. A story of politics. A story of love. A story of womanhood. A story of family.
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award, Okparanta, takes us to the heart of a family and the heart of a nation. Okparanta has also published work in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House and many other publications.
Interview with Chinelo Okparanta, “Champion of Love”
Click to buy Indie.