Starbook by Ben Okri
A remarkable fairy tale, the legend of a lost time and a lost people, elevating an unnamed African kingdom and an unknowable tribe of artists to the heights of myth. Okri's facility here with language rivals Rushdie or Nabokov at their most luminous, and makes the novel a joyous reading experience. His insights into the minds of his characters, or the vital importance of art, or the epiphanic nature of stillness and silence, are rendered in words that slow down the eye and the mind, that force the reader to examine how the beauty of such language embeds in the mind the story being told for long after the last page is turned over.
Tin House #33 ed. by Rick Moody
A remarkable collection of fantastical fiction from women writers on both sides of the genre divide. Standout's include Aimee Bender's "Lemonade," Samantha Hunt's "Beast," Shelley Jackson's "Word Problem," Kelly Link's "Light," Miranda F. Mellis' "The Coffee Jockey," Alissa Nutting's "Hot, Fast, and Sad," and Ricky Moody's tribute to Angela Carter. Incredibly strong writing from start to finish, and a hopeful sign that fabulism and surreality will continue to find a home in established literary journals.
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
One of the most entertaining and important books of 2008, and a worthy successor to Orwell's 1984. Security, freedom, technology, and terror are tackled in this kick-ass YA novel that both teens and adults need to read. Told through the eyes of 17yo techno-geek Marcus (aka w15t0n, aka M1k3y), the novel plummets through a devastating near-future attack on San Francisco, and the fascistic policies of the DHS in its aftermath. Brilliant in the sociopolitical, technological, and narrative senses, and highly recommended for anyone who feels as if they're now living in a police state.
War by Candlelight by Daniel Alarcon
A remarkable collection of stories about Peru, and Peruvians living in New York. Everyday people living through war, poverty, hopelessness, and geological disasters, and finding a way through the day. Poetically observant and socially aware, Alarcon's writing sings with beauty and savagery, rich with humanity.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Tragic and horrifying, and at the same time full of hope, the story of Huascar de Leon, his sister Lola, his mother Belicia, and the fuku that has cursed their family since the reign of the dictator Trujillo. Narrated deftly by Yunior, Oscar's college roommate, with the confident Dominican voice of a natural storyteller. Full of heartbreaking prose and faux-academic footnotes and geeky sf references, and a stunning account of the immigrant experience. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
On deck to be reviewed, here at the blog or elsewhere:
- Not Flesh Nor Feathers by Cherie Priest
- The Drowned Life by Jeffrey Ford
- The Last Book by Zoran Zivkovic
- Escher's Loops by Zoran Zivkovic
- The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
- Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
- The Baum Plan for Financial Independence by John Kessel
- The Ant King and Other Stories by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Secret Lives by Jeff VanderMeer
- The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
- Seeds of Change ed. by John Joseph Adams
- The Situation by Jeff VanderMeer
- Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey
- My Own Kind of Freedom: A Firefly Novel by Steven Brust
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