Essential for students of contemporary world literature.

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TWENTY YEARS OF THE CAINE PRIZE FOR AFRICAN WRITING

Best-of gathering of stories from the first two decades of the distinguished literary award devoted to African letters.

In his introduction, Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri writes that the Caine Prize for African Writing “has turned out to be a regenerator of African literature,” a literature that experienced a boom in the immediate post-colonial era but is less well known today. The mostly young writers represented in the collection have, he continues, delivered “tales political, tales harrowing, tales humorous, tales told with vitality and passion and intelligence.” All that is abundantly evident in the editors’ choices. The inaugural piece, by the Egyptian writer Leila Aboulela, mirrors her own life as an immigrant to Scotland. Shadia, a young woman, has fallen behind in a statistics class and asks a Scottish classmate for his notes: “Her ignorance and the impending exams were horrors she wanted to escape,” Aboulela writes, but at the price of striking up a conversation with a man who has a disagreeable ponytail and earring: “The whole of him was pathetic,” she sniffs, and even when the young man, barely comprehensible because of his accent, expresses an interest in Islam (“Ah wouldnae mind travelling to Mecca), she can find no bridge to him. Other pieces speak to the difficulty of crossing cultures, the Nigerian writer Rotimi Babatunde’s “Bombay’s Republic” being a sidelong case in point: A Nigerian soldier finds himself fighting the Japanese in Burma, save that the enemy has vanished because the British have put out the word that “the Africans are coming and that they eat people,” a calumny that demands a response—and finds one when he returns to his homeland. All the stories are excellent, but some are especially memorable, among them Henrietta Rose-Innes’ “Poison,” the 2008 winner, which presciently speaks of an environmental apocalypse that finds the sun over Cape Town “a pink bleached disk, like the moon of a different planet.”

Essential for students of contemporary world literature.

Pub Date: March 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-935-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Interlink

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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