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Young Adults as Unreliable Narrators

In How to Set a Fire and Why, Lucia claims to not remember exactly what occurred during an argument with her aunt's landlord, leaving her exact reasoning and motivation somewhat mysterious. In writing Lucia as an unreliable narrator, Jesse Ball draws from an established tradition. An unreliable narrator lies, expresses uncertainty or bias, or seems to have a misunderstanding of situations that occurred. The author may employ an unreliable narrator to intentionally mislead the reader or as a means of characterization. Part of the pleasure in encountering such a narrator is parsing out what is true and what is not. Teen and young adult narrators are some of the most obvious and well-known examples of the trope, and this makes logical sen... [More]


Climate Fiction: A Glimpse into the Growing Genre

In Midnight at the Electric, it is the year 2065, and teenager Adri is part of a carefully selected group departing Earth forever to live on Mars. Although the story takes place less than 50 years from now, massive planetary destruction has already taken place. As Adri puts it early on, "there's no Miami and hardly any Bangladesh and no polar bears…and they're paying billions of dollars to start a colony on Mars because humans need an exit strategy." Considered by some to be a sub-genre of science-fiction, and by others to be an entirely new genre, climate-fiction highlights climate change and its potential ramifications. Although books exploring man-made climate change date back to the '70s, it was only in 2007 that journalist Da... [More]


The Origins of the Kashmir Dispute

The Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan occupies center stage in Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. For readers unfamiliar with the dispute here is some background (this piece first ran as the "beyond the book" article for Roy's long awaited book): The conflict in Kashmir traces its roots back to the partition of India and Pakistan (see our Beyond the Book article for An Unrestored Woman). When the British left India in 1947, Kashmir was not an Indian state, but was instead one of hundreds of smaller independent princely states. each with their own rulers, who swore loyalty to the British empire. As the British Raj withdrew, these princely states had to make the complicated decision as to whether to become a pa... [More]


Women who Scheme: The Female as Villain in Greek Tragedies and Beyond

The story of Clytemnestra is told in bits and pieces across several play cycles from the Classical period, and before. At the end of the House of Names, the author Colm Tóibín notes that, while the majority of the novel's events are not related to any source material, the overall shape of the narrative and the main characters are taken from The Oresteia by Aeschylus, Electra by Sophocles, Euripides' Electra, Orestes, and Iphigenia at Aulis. Clytemnestra, as well as Electra, make appearances in other plays and art forms throughout history, but are rarely humanized in the way that we see in Tóibín's book. In fact, the way in which House of Names is perhaps most subversive is how Tóibín humanizes these c... [More]


What is The Bardo?

Yesterday, George Saunders won the Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in The Bardo. So you might be wondering what the bardo is! Find out in our "beyond the book" article. You can also read our review and browse an excerpt. The word bardo comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and means "in-between." It refers to a transitional state when one's awareness of the physical world is suspended. According to Spiritualtravel.org the concept is an "umbrella term which includes the transitional states of birth, death, dream, transmigration or afterlife, meditation, and spiritual luminosity...for the dying individual, the bardo is the period of the afterlife that lies in between two different incarnations." Most of the characters in Lincoln in the Ba... [More]

 

B&N Survey Finds Thanksgiving Eve 'Busiest Reading Day of the Year'

According to Barnes & Noble's survey, 77% of Americans read at least one book, newspaper or magazine during Thanksgiving or other holiday travel, while 60% of travelers usually bring, buy or borrow reading material specifically for travel on Thanksgiving Eve. Some 73% of respondents said they felt that traveling on the day before Thanksgiving is a "good time to bring a book they would enjoy and be able to read," and just over a quarter of Americans feel that "bringing a book along for Thanksgiving could give them a way to get out of an uncomfortable or awkward conversation with a relative or other guest."


'Shattering' novel wins $25k South Asian Literature Prize

Anuk Arudpragasam has won the prestigious ?DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 for his novel, "?The Story of a Brief Marriage", published by Granta in the UK, and by Flatiron in the USA

Arudpragasam was awarded the $25,000 (£18,830) prize along with a unique trophy by Hon'ble Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, minister of finance of Bangladesh ?at the Dhaka Literature Festival in Bangladesh.


10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie Fans will likely enjoy Publishers Weekly's article, "10 Things You Probably Didn't Know about Laura Ingalls Wilder."


National Book Awards announced

The national book awards for 2017 have been announced.
The winners are:
Fiction: Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing
Nonfiction: Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
Poetry: Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
Young People's Literature: Robin Benway, Far from the Tree

Annie Proulx received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.


Indie bookstores make plans for Indies First/Small Business Saturday

Indies First/Small Business Saturday 2017 and the start of the holiday shopping season are just a week and a half away (Nov 25), and more independent bookstores around the United States are finalizing their plans for the annual celebration of bookselling and small businesses. Shelf Awareness rounds up some of the planned activities...


Bookstores sales decline for the second month in a row

Bookstore sales declined 6.5% this September, compared to September 2016, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau Wednesday morning. Sales in September were $1.01 billion, down from $1.8 billion a year ago.


Top hundred nonfiction books of all time

The Observer newspaper continues its 2+ year project to review what it deems to be the top 100 nonfiction books of all time. The series began in February 2016 with their No. 1 pick, Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction and is on track to complete by the turn of the year. The most recent review is for The Diary of Samuel Pepys coming in at No. 92.

The Observer is the sister newspaper to the better known British newspaper, The Guardian. The Observer publishes on Sundays, The Guardian publishes on all other days of the week. Both newspapers combine their content into theguardian.com website.


Pirated ebooks threaten the future of book series

With 4 million or 17% of all online ebooks being pirated, novelists including Maggie Stiefvater and Samantha Shannon say theft by fans puts their books at risk.


Playwright Tom Stoppard wins lifetime achievement award

The playwright Tom Stoppard has won the David Cohen prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature, hailed as a "giant of 20th-century British drama" with an "outstanding and enduring body of unfailingly creative, innovative and brilliant work."


Is reading in bed a thing of the past?

Howard Jacobson in the Guardian asks how many of us still read a book in bed?