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)
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.
It looks like desire. It looks like fear. It looks like life beginning. It looks like the end. It looks like love. It looks like heartbreak.
Mike has just moved to a new town. A new school. Freshman year. Mike meets someone. Mike falls in love. With a boy. Mike’s conservative parents can’t know. Mike’s world is about to turn upside down. In a tragedy worthy of Romeo and Juliet, young love and family strife are center stage. A classic love story for our time. Whether you want the rush of young love, or the tears of that often come with it, this book is for you. Continue reading “It Looks Like This”