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William Kotzwinkle: Swimmer in the Secret Sea

I’ve had my eye on Swimmer in the Secret Sea (1975) since I read about it earlier this year and saw that it was published by Godine, one of my favorite publishers.  As happens, though, I put off purchasing it online, which is the only place I thought I would find it.  However, last…

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J.M. Coetzee: Slow Man

Over the past year I have been acquiring everything I can by J.M. Coetzee, and I’m planning on spending the next year getting through it all.  I’ve read only four of his books (three reviewed here: Life and Times of Michael K, Foe, and Disgrace), but each one was strong…

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Harry Mulisch: The Assault

When Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize earlier this year, Mark Orthofor at The Complete Review’s Literary Saloon said that, while he can see a strong case for Vargas Llosa, he thought Amos Oz or Harry Mulisch were the more deserving.  I hadn’t read either and, a few days…

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2010 National Book Award Winners

This year’s National Book Award winners are: Fiction — Jaimy Gordon: Lord of Misrule Nonfiction — Patti Smith: Just Kids Poetry – Terrance Hayes: Lighthead Young People’s Literature – Kathryn Erskine: Mockingbird Here is a link to all of the finalists.  Jaimy Gordon’s book follows the Giller Prize winner by being a…

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Cynthia Ozick: Foreign Bodies

Cynthia Ozick’s new novel Foreign Bodies (2010) is touted as a retelling of Henry James’s classic The Ambassadors.  I haven’t read The Ambassadors, so let this review be a favor to anyone who wonders whether reading The Ambassadors is a prerequisite.  Answer: no.  At least, I enjoyed this book a great deal.  Then…

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César Aira: The Literary Conference

When I first read Aira, I became an immediate fan.  I have loved the three books New Directions has offered us: Ghosts, which was quietly disturbing and atmospheric; An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, which was full of nature and adventure and how to capture that in…

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2010 Giller Prize Winner

This year’s Giller Prize winner is The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud!  That was my second choice after Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod.  Certainly, The Sentimentalists is the best produced book on the shortlist — and, up to now, the hardest to come by.  Apparently a few weeks ago I could have sold…

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Nicole Krauss: Great House

One of my favorite stories in The New Yorker this year was Nicole Krauss’s “The Young Painters,” which turned out to be a short selection from her new novel Great House (2010).  When I made the connection, I knew I would have to read this book.  That it is now a finalist for the National Book…

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2010 Giller Shadow Jury Selects Winner

As expected, participating in the Giller Shadow Jury again this year was an excellent experience!  Working with KevinfromCanada and Alison Gzowski was always a pleasure and never a chore, though we did have to deliberate to come up with this year’s winner.  That said, we are unanimous in our choice,…

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Cynthia Ozick: The Cannibal Galaxy

A few years ago I was stunned when I read Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl.  It was superb.  Since then, I’ve tried to get my hands on other things she’s written, but, as it often happens with authors I’m pretty sure I’ll like, I’ve been saving them up as a treat. …