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Archives: 10/2017
Oct 17, 2017 News

George Saunders, famed short story writer, has won the Man Booker Prize for his first full-length novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

From The Man Booker Prize website:

The 58-year-old New York resident, born in Texas, is the second American author to win the prize in its 49-year history. He was in contention for the prize with two British, one British-Pakistani and two American writers.

Lola, Baroness Young, 2017 Chair of judges, comments:

‘The form and style of this utterly original novel, reveals a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative. This tale of the haunting and haunted souls in the afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s young son paradoxically creates a vivid and lively evocation of the characters that populate this other world. Lincoln in the Bardo is both rooted in, and plays with history, and explores the meaning and experience of empathy.’

Lincoln in the Bardo focuses on a single night in the life of Abraham Lincoln: an actual moment in 1862 when the body of his 11-year-old son was laid to rest in a Washington cemetery. Strangely and brilliantly, Saunders activates this graveyard with the spirits of its dead. The Independent described the novel as ‘completely beguiling’, praising Saunders for concocting a ‘narrative like no other: a magical, mystery tour of the bardo – the “intermediate” or transitional state between one’s death and one’s next birth, according to Tibetan Buddhism.’ Meanwhile, the Guardian wrote that, ‘the short story master’s first novel is a tale of great formal daring…[it] stands head and shoulders above most contemporary fiction, showing a writer who is expanding his universe outwards, and who clearly has many more pleasures to offer his readers.’

-Read the rest here.

Browse below for Saunders’ rightfully beloved works:

Oct 5, 2017 Blog

Ishiguro

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature has been bestowed upon our author Kazuo Ishiguro. His beloved fiction, which includes The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant, has been published in the U.S. by Knopf, Vintage, and Random House Audio since 1989. Ishiguro is among more than 60 of our authors to receive the Nobel Prize.

 

See below for a few of his novels.

 

Oct 4, 2017 Blog

So many wonderful books were published this year, and we’re honored to celebrate the finalists for 2017’s National Book Awards. Browse below to see these must-read books!

Oct 3, 2017 Blog

This article was written by Carolyn Hart and originally appeared on Signature Reads.

In Ghost on the Case, Bailey Ruth Raeburn, an emissary from Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions, returns to earth to help a young woman who receives a terrifying phone call demanding ransom for her sister. What can Susan Gilbert do? What will she do? What is going to happen to her sister?

I use the following techniques to create suspense: action, empathy, threat, tension, puzzle, danger, deadline, challenge, and surprise.

Gretchen works in the family café in a small town on Highway 66 in northeastern Oklahoma in the summer of 1943.

Action: The dust from the convoy rose in plumes. Gretchen stood on tiptoe, waving, waving.         

A soldier leaned over the tailgate of the olive drab troop carrier. The blazing July sun touched his crew cut with gold. He grinned as he tossed her a bubble gum. “Chew it for me, kid.”

Empathy: Gretchen turns away, thinking of her brother Jimmy, a Marine in the South Pacific, her mother who works at the B-24 plant in Tulsa, and the troop convoy as she walks toward her grandmother’s café.

She still felt a kind of thrill when she saw the name painted in bright blue: Victory Café… There was a strangeness in the café’s new name. It had been Pfizer’s Café for almost twenty years, but now it didn’t do to be proud of being German…

Empathy and threat: Now the reader has a personal stake in Gretchen, understands there is pain and uncertainty in her life. Her grandmother avoids speaking in the café because of her strong German accent.

In the café, Gretchen sets to work, cleaning, serving food. Customers include Deputy Sheriff Carter. We learn Carter likes to do crossword puzzles and thinks about money. In another booth two military officers from nearby Camp Crowder discuss the Spooklight, a famous and mysterious light that mysteriously appears after dark among the rolling hills. The Army uses night searches for the Spooklight to train troops.

Gretchen’s grandmother brings out a fresh apple pie.

Threat: One of the customers jokingly accuses her of buying sugar on the black market.

“Lotte, the deputy may have to put you in jail if you make any more pies like that.”

Grandmother is upset, explains the pies are made with honey. One of the officers speaks to her in German. The deputy turns hostile.

Tension: He glowered at Grandmother. “No Heinie talk needed around here . . .”         

Gretchen takes trash to an incinerator. As it burns, she climbs a tree. She sees Deputy Carter enter the cemetery. He looks around surreptitiously.

Puzzle: Back by the pillars, the deputy made one more careful study of the church and the graveyard. He pulled a folded sheet of paper from his pocket and knelt by the west pillar . . . She leaned so far forward her branch creaked.         

Danger: The kneeling man’s head jerked up… The eyes that skittered over the headstones and probed the lengthening shadows were dark and dangerous.

The deputy hides the paper in the pillar. After he leaves, Gretchen finds the paper, reads and replaces it. The message leads her late that night to an abandoned zinc mine. She watches the deputy and a soldier unload an Army truck and hide gasoline tins in the mine.

Deadline: She overhears plans to sell the gasoline Thursday night.

The next day she asks her grandmother what it means when people talk about gasoline on the black market. Lotte explains how important gas is, why it’s rationed, and that even a little bit can make a big difference in the war. Gretchen thinks about her brother fighting in the Pacific. She asks Lotte who catches people in the black market.

Challenge: “. . . I don’t know,” she said uncertainly. “I guess in the cities it would be the police. And here it would be the deputy. Or maybe the Army.”

Gretchen thinks about the deputy and about the Army searching for the Spooklight. At the café that afternoon, she asks the young officer if they are still searching for the Spooklight. He says yes and she tells him she’s heard the light has been seen at the old Sister Sue zinc mine.

Gretchen enlists the help of a friend, Millard, whose brother Mike is in the 45th fighting in Italy. They put pie tins in the trees near the mine to reflect flashlight and draw the soldiers.

Challenge: . . . she moved out into the clearing. “What’s wrong?”

He was panting. “It’s the Army, but they’re going down the wrong road. . . . They won’t come near enough to see us.”

Surprise: Suddenly a light burst in the sky . . . Then came another flash and another . . .

Millard lobs lighted clumps of magnesium with his sling shot and draws the Army to the mine where the tins are found, along with a crumpled crossword puzzle in the deputy’s handwriting which Gretchen took from a café booth. The puzzle leads to his arrest and the arrest of a sergeant in the motor pool.

No one ever knew about Millard and Gretchen’s efforts, but Gretchen didn’t mind. The final sentence links the reader to Gretchen: What really mattered was the gas. Maybe now there would be enough for Jimmy and Mike.

Readers offered action, empathy, threat, tension, puzzle, danger, deadline, challenge, and surprise will keep turning the pages.

Cover detail from Ghost on the Case by Carolyn Hart

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