Festival season is truly upon us and with crowds flocking to Glastonbury – hopefully armed with waterproofs and wellies to battle the rain (not to rub in that we enjoyed glorious sunshine there last year…) – I thought it time to reflect on the wonderful Saturday that I had last weekend at the lesser-known, but tremendously important, FESTIFEEL.
Today we’re offering thefirstFranny vs Perks review post. Although we’ve read many of the same books, The Lowland is the first to be subjected to our critical eyes. We hope that our double whammy of a post will encourage you to read a book that, although has not broken free of the numerous shortlists its been on, is undoubtedly a fantastic read.
I am so excited for the 23rd of next month, when all the excitement of the venerated Man Booker will get under way once more and stir up all that delicious controversy it manages to elicit each year. And slowly, I am limping to the finish with these reviews of the 2013/2014 shortlist, soon to be completed with a Franny vs. Perks post on The Lowland.
A Tale for Time Being was no exception to the excellence I have been greeted with so far in this shortlist. It was also an incredibly emotional book to end my reading on. Obviously I don’t want to give an ending to a story away but suffice to say it was pretty emotionally devastating while being on the enjoyable side of genius. There is so much to say about Ruth Ozeki’s masterpiece that I hardly know there to start and I am aware I won’t be able to mention half the things I want to. Early on I should emphasise, you should read this book. Not everyone will love it but if it is your type of literary fiction, it’ll stay with you for a long time past the wonderful ending.
People who follow me on Twitter were bombarded yesterday with tweets and pictures supporting the #NoBakeDay campaign run by Quercus for Sharon Hearne-Smith‘s book No-Bake Baking– a book which defies the conventional and explores the creations you can make using those other things in your kitchen – the fridge, freezer, microwave… you get the gist.
Having posted four recipes on their website, Quercus invited tweeters to bake-along on Saturday 14th June, submit pictures of their treats to Sharon and await the announcement of who’d won the coveted winning prizes in the evening. If you give me free, easy recipes (and I happen to have an easy afternoon), then I’m there. Continue reading #NoBakeDay→
‘You don’t want to read it, Frank’ said Emma’s mum to Emma’s dad who had passed by the proofs of Animals and expressed an interest in reading it – this has to be the best ‘review’ of Emma Jane Unsworth’s latest book – a tale that explores female friendship in all its gloriously wild extremes, and one which formed the subject of the inaugural ELLE Book Club last night. Continue reading ELLE Book Club – Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth→
I cannot believe almost a week has gone by since Eimear McBride was announced as the winner of the first Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014. What a night.
I think most of my friends and family would testify that I am a big fan of parties. I’m not talking ‘let’s-go-on-the-lash-and-get-horendously-wasted-and-embarrass-ourselves’ party (though it’s important to have a few of those for life experience…right?), I’m talking a well-organised, slick event, where all requirements are catered for and all expectations exceeded. Having left the Durham University environment last summer, where balls and formals were a regular part of my weekly schedule, I soon realised that publishing was the perfect industry to enter in order to continue enjoying such events. However, no book launch or reading had ever quite matched the grandeur I so enjoyed, so when I received an invite to the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction awards party, ‘excited’ simply doesn’t cover it. Continue reading Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Awards Ceremony→
The associations we hold with the continent of Africa are impressions that are vastly different from the reality of actually living there. The world speaks of pity and sadness in the context of those countries, while forgetting that it remains the home of millions of people, who may exist in a world fiscally poorer than ours, but by no means devoid of happiness. We Need New Names is a novel that manages to inject some of the true joy and energy of this location into its lines of prose. It opens in Zimbabwe as Mugabe tightens his stranglehold on the country, told through the eyes of Darling, a ragamuffin girl growing up in a slum called Paradise. During the course of the novel, Darling is taken by her aunt to live in America at the age of 10 to grow up in a safer world. It manages to show us a slice of the real Africa – a place where children are hungry, but play and laugh, stealing guavas from the trees of their wealthy neighbours to get by. It also shows us the reality of growing up in America as an immigrant –always grateful but never quite belonging.
As demonstrated by Franny’s beautiful and dedicated reviews on this very blog, the talent in the shortlist for the Baileys Prize this year is incredible. I have to admit I was excited enough when I saw the judging panel, but the sheer quality of the novels this year has been amazing.
What a treat then, on a Tuesday evening, to get to sit in an auditorium (reportedly with RYAN REYNOLDS – though an unconfirmed sighting) and listen to these six incredible women read a section from their respective novels. Well, actually, five incredible women, and one slightly bewildered Charles Dance, reading in place of the absent Tartt and declaring that he had ‘never felt so conspicuous’. Franny and Perks were lucky enough to nab tickets to this wonderful event and what a pleasure it was.
As a huge fan of Half of a YellowSun, I approached Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book with admittedly high expectations, but reading the opening pages immediately felt like slipping back into a familiar world. Adichie’s hyper-sensitive descriptions indulged every sense so, despite the fact that I had never visited Africa, let alone Nigeria, I embraced the setting as if it were my own, tasting the Nigeria in which Americanah‘s protagonists, Ifemelu and Obinze, begin their lives. For a novel where location has an incredibly profound effect on lives, there could not be a more suited author. Adichie’s narrative is beautifully absorbing and richly challenging – a book that is clearly of the world, spanning across three continents, but also for the world, fearlessly addressing love, race, politics and selfhood. Continue reading Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie→