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Who is Candy Gourlay? (03/12)
Perhaps Candy Gourlay writes about dismantling the walls between people because she has chosen to scale them, push on them, and break them down for herself.

Candy tells a story about leaving Manila, where she spent much of her childhood, to live in England. Her two youngest brothers (she is one of six siblings) were just little guys...
Kevin Brockmeier (03/12)
Kevin Brockmeier has received the Borders Original Voices Award, three O. Henry Awards (one, a first prize), the PEN USA Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NEA Grant. He was also named one of Granta Magazine's 'Best Young American Novelists'. He is known for his imaginative interpretations of modern life, his emphasis on the wonders ...
Selected Books by Julian Barnes (03/12)
Julian Barnes can rightfully be called a prolific author, having published nineteen books, more than twenty short stories, and over one-hundred essays and reviews! He has also written four novels under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, a mysterious, steer-wrestling, gay-bar-bouncing personality who, 'devoted his adolescence to truancy, ...
Dr. Nick Trout (02/12)
Veterinary surgeon and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Nick Trout is beloved among readers and is often compared to the late English veterinary surgeon James Herriot, author of the classic memoir All Creatures Great and Small. In an interview with Boston Magazine, Dr. Trout describes his feelings about this comparison:

I grew ...

Andre Dubus - Father & Son (02/12)
It can be confusing enough when members of the same family share a profession. It gets even more confusing when they share the same name, as is the case with father and son authors Andre Dubus and Andre Dubus III.

Andre Dubus was born into a Cajun-Irish Catholic family in 1936 Louisiana, the youngest child of Katherine (Burke) and Andr...
Lysley Tenorio (02/12)
Lysley Tenorio (pronounced LESS-lee ten-OH-rio) is the winner of several awards, including the Whiting Writers' Award, the Nelson Algren Award, and a Pushcart Prize - and fellowships from Phillip Exeter Academy, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the University of Wisconsin, and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. He earned his MFA ...
China Miéville (02/12)
China Miéville (pronounced mee-AY-vill) has taken the science fiction world by storm in his relatively short tenure as a published author. He is the winner of three Arthur C. Clarke awards, two British Fantasy Awards, four Locus Awards, a Hugo Award, and a World Fantasy Award - not to mention he's received numerous nominations for ...
Henry James (02/12)
Henry James (1843-1916), the prolific American writer of the late 19th/early 20th century, was known to pick up ideas for his stories from dinner party conversations. Colm Tóibín puts this bit of knowledge to use in his short story 'Silence', when he has fictional character Lady Gregory share a secret with James as they sit next...
The Tiger Mother Media-Storm (01/12)
In addition to her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua's Wall Street Journal article entitled, 'Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior' (which is excerpted from Tiger Mother but does not fully represent the message of the book) has created quite a stir in the media, and has inspired hundreds of opinionated articles and blog postings ...
On the Path to the Newbery Medal (01/12)
Moon Over Manifest began as a story the author clearly needed to hear. Her inspiration was a line in Moby Dick that also influences Abilene: 'It is not down in any map; true places never are.'

On her website Vanderpool explains, 'That really sparked my imagination. What is a true place? It conjured up ideas of home. Having lived ...
Tomas Tranströmer (11/11)
Tomas Tranströmer was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1931, and spent his career as a psychologist. The author of a dozen books of poetry, Tranströmer is the most renowned Scandinavian poet since World War II. His poetry has been translated into more than fifty languages. In 2011, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature 'because...
Who is Cath Crowley? (11/11)
A Little Wanting Song left me wanting to know more about author Cath Crowley, but the biographical information immediately at hand was a little light, so I did some digging....

Cath Crowley is an Australian children's author. She was born in 1971 and grew up in a rural part of Victoria (SE Australia) with three brothers and a dog.

...
Everyday Magic in The History of Love (10/11)
Although Nicole Krauss's three books to date would not be classified as magical realism (a style, according to Wikipedia, wherein, 'normal occurrences… are presented in a straightforward manner, which allows the 'real' and the 'fantastic' to be accepted in the same stream of thought') there is in her books an element of the magic ...
Deborah Ellis (10/11)
Deborah Ellis has been all over the world. And she hasn't just visited places, she's done things. Big things. She went to Pakistan to help at an Afghan Refugee Camp; she went to Israel and the Ghaza Strip to talk with Israeli and Palestinian children; and she went to Malawi and Tanzania to spend time with children orphaned by AIDS. ...
Robert Graves and the White Goddess (09/11)
What is Robert Graves doing, you might ask, in a book about rowdy teen boys?  His presence is pervasive from the very first chapter, when the mysterious and beautiful new geography teacher, Aurelie, talks to Howard the Coward about how to get his history students engaged with the First World War:

'You should read them ...
Hard-boiled vs. Noir (09/11)
Hard-boiled fiction arose in the United States in the aftermath of WWI, and gained popularity and refinement in the years leading up to WWII. The popular genre was a direct reflection of the pessimism, uncertainty and disillusionment sweeping the country in the wake of gangster-driven crime, political scandal and economic crisis, and ...
The Team of Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis (09/11)
Husband and wife Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis live in a neighborhood in Forest Park, a 5000 acre northwestern wilderness on the edge of Portland, Oregon. To Colin and Carson, who spend hours and hours walking through the forest, it feels like its own country, vastly different from, yet so close to, the city. This is the inspirational...
The Appeal of Doomed Lovers (09/11)
Search the web for 'famous love stories' and you'll find that most sites rank Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in 1st place. Considering how few of the general populous will have actually read or watched a performance of Shakespeare's arguably most famous play in recent years it seems likely that what keeps this pair of star-crossed lovers...
Siobhán Parkinson (08/11)
On May 11, 2010, Siobhán Parkinson (pronounced sh-vawn) became the first Irish Children's Literature Laureate (aka Laureate Na nÓg) ever. (Na nÓg is an Irish term meaning 'the young' or 'young people'). Held for two years, the main purpose of the position is to expose youths to good, high quality children's literature and ...
Self-Publishing Successes (08/11)
Hilary Thayer Hamann self-published her novel with the help of her former husband's print and design company, consciously choosing to forego the typical path of agents, editors, and salespeople. The book found a disparate but fervent audience and started winning awards. A film producer inquired about movie rights and encouraged Hamann...
Dorothea and Casaubon, literature's most famous miserable academic couple (08/11)
Margaret and Andrew of Private Life are cut from the same cloth as George Eliot's classic unhappy spouses, Dorothea Brooke and the Reverend Edward Casaubon. Eliot's Middlemarch was published in 1874, just a few years before Smiley's character, Margaret Mayfield, is born.

Dorothea Brooke is an intelligent and idealistic young woman, ...
The History of The Hardy Boys (07/11)
Shortly after Will and Devon begin investigating the mysterious death of their high school quarterback, they name themselves the Hardy Boys. Here they are texting as they create this new identity:

Smiley_Man3000: With all the inside info I get from my dad and your big brain, we can solve this Chambers thing!

HamburgerHalpin: ...

Emma Donoghue (07/11)
Emma Donoghue is an award-winning Irish writer who lives in Canada. She has published seven novels, three collections of short stories, three works of non-fiction and various productions for stage, radio and screen. 

In her own words: 'Born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, I am the youngest of eight children of ...
An Interview With Lily King (06/11)
When you began your new novel, Father of the Rain, what was the initial idea or image that got the story rolling?

I think it started with the puppy, a father buying his daughter a puppy that she wouldn't be able to keep because she knew, though he didn't, that she would be moving out of the house with her mother in a week. And her...

Scarlett Thomas (06/11)
For inspiration to write a novel about a novelist trying to write a novel, Scarlett Thomas didn't have to look very far—her own life was the template. Thomas was born in London in 1972. She wrote her first novel at age six and her second one in her early twenties, but literary fame eluded her. She, like her character Meg, turned ...
An Interview with Goldie Goldbloom (06/11)
Australian author Goldie Goldbloom discusses her debut novel, The Paperbark Shoe, with Lisa Guidarini. The following are selected excerpts from the full interview.

You chose to set the book in your native Australia. Do you believe it would have been as effective if the setting had been, say, the 1930s Dust Bowl in the United States, ...
Metafiction & Unreliable Narrators (05/11)
What is Metafiction?
It depends on whom you ask, as the term is somewhat slippery, meaning that various authors and literary critics define it differently. William H. Gass coined the term in 1970 in an essay entitled 'Philosophy and the Form of Fiction'. Commenting on American fiction of the 1960s, Gass pointed out that a new term ...
All About Jason Wallace (04/11)
Here is a short story about perseverance: Out of Shadows was rejected by agents and editors one hundred times before Jason Wallace's current publishing house bought it. One hundred times. And it just won the very prestigious Costa Children's Book of the Year Award (formerly the Whitbread Award). Thank goodness Jason didn't give up trying....
Just What Is a Poet Laureate? (04/11)
The United States Poet Laureate* is appointed annually by the Library of Congress, and is poetically described by the LOC as the 'official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans.' (Personally, I like the very idea of a 'collective poetic impulse,' and find its acknowledgement and promotion by an institution of the federal ...
Pearl S. Buck (04/11)
Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (born June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia) was an important and much lauded American writer, famous for her depictions of China and Chinese culture, which earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for the novel The Good Earth and the first Nobel Prize awarded to an American woman for Literature in 1938 'for her ...
The Origin of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (01/11)
(From author Melanie Benjamin's website)

On the 'golden afternoon' of July 4, 1862, Charles Dodgson and his friend Robinson Duckworth rowed the three Liddell girls - Ina, Alice and Edith - down the Isis (or the Thames, as it's known as it nears London)* for a picnic lunch. During the trip, Dodgson began to tell the sisters the story...
William Wordsworth (01/11)
Characters in Bloodroot rely on William Wordsworth's poetry as a source of comfort and inspiration, but echoes of his literary philosophy and poetic interests can also be found in the pages of Amy Greene's novel.

Just as Bloodroot relies on memory to tell its stories, much of Wordsworth's poetry focuses on capturing moments of ...
Literary Predecessors of Maggie O'Farrell (01/11)
According to BookBrowse reviewer Marnie Colton, Maggie O'Farrell's dry wit and keen observations owe a debt to these predecessors:

Nina Bawden (b. 1925)
Nina Bawden, CBE, is one of Britain's most distinguished and best-loved novelists for adults and children. She has published over forty novels and was shortlisted for the Booker ...
J.M. Coetzee (11/10)
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, J. M. Coetzee* studied first at Cape Town, earning degrees in English and mathematics. He worked for several years as a computer programmer while he researched his thesis on the novelist Ford Madox Ford. In 1968 he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a PhD in English,...
Kazuo Ishiguro (10/10)
Born in Nagasaki, Japan on November 8, 1954, Kazuo Ishiguro moved to Britain in 1960 at the age of five when his father began research at the National Institute of Oceanography. His family had not expected to stay, but ended up making Britain their home. He was educated at a grammar school for boys in Surrey, and later read English and ...
Ethiopian Authors (10/10)
Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. In 1980 he immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister, joining his father, who had fled the communist revolution in Ethiopia two years before. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University's MFA program in fiction. He has also reported ...
Margaret Drabble (10/10)
Margaret Drabble was born in 1939 in Sheffield, England. Her father was a barrister, county court judge and a novelist. Her sister is the author A.S. Byatt. Margaret attended the Mount School in York from where she won a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge to read English. She received a Starred First (First Class Honours with ...
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (10/10)
Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in London in 1797. As the daughter of the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and William Godwin, a political philosopher and an early anarchist proponent, Mary was born into a family that challenged social norms and encouraged ...
John Clare - A Little Known English Poet (09/10)
The Quickening Maze is based on real events in the lives of English poets John Clare and Alfred Tennyson. Tennyson, better known as Lord Tennyson (even though he was well into his eighth decade before becoming a peer) will be familiar to most of us for a handful of his better known poems including The Charge of the Light Brigade, one...
Beirut 39 - An anthology of writing by thirty-nine Arabic writers under thirty-nine. (08/10)
Beirut 39 derives its title from 'Beirut39', a group of thirty-nine writers of Arab heritage who were all born in or after 1970. The countries of origin represented in the anthology include Palestine, Saudia Arabia, Syria, Oman, Jordan, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt, among others.

These writers met for workshops, readings, and ...
Frame Narration and Ekphrasis (07/10)
Paul Auster frequently employs two particular literary techniques which, when combined, turn his novels into multi-layered stories with internal echoes and reverberations.

The first is a frame narrative, in which the main plot is a story, usually in the form of a manuscript, which is discovered and introduced by someone else. This ...
Russia’s Poetic Troika (07/10)
Born in Odessa, Russia in 1889, Anna Akhmatova began writing poems at the age of 11, adopting her grandmother's surname because her father would not permit her to publish under his own. As a member of the Acmeist school of poetry, Akhmatova achieved celebrity along with her husband, Nikolay Gumilyov, who was executed in 1921 as a ...
Shariar Mandanipour (06/10)
Shariar Mandanipour's varied life began in the city of Shiraz, where he was born in 1956. In the 1970s, he participated in protests against the authoritarian rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; in the 80s, he volunteered in the Iran-Iraq war; and, since 2009, he has served as the chief editor for Asr-e Pandishanbeh (Thursday Evening), an ...
The Anti-Updikeans (06/10)

'I'd like to offer assurances that your reviewer is not one of these spleen-venting, spittle-spattering Updike-haters one encounters among literary readers under 40. The fact is that I am probably classifiable as one of very few actual sub-40 Updike fans.'

This quote comes from an essay by David Foster Wallace, the upstart author of ...
Lev Grossman's Worlds (06/10)
Lev Grossman was born in 1969, the son of two English professors, and grew up in Lexington, MA, a placid little suburb of Boston. After obtaining a literature degree from Harvard and working towards a PhD in comparative literature at Yale, he gradually turned himself into a journalist and after a few years as a free-lancer, was hired...
Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother (05/10)
Several months before the release of Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, his wife, writer Ayelet Waldman, published a memoir called Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, which offers another look at the Chabon/Waldman family.

The book stems partly from Waldman's controversial essay ...
Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America (04/10)
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was born in Paris on July 29, 1805. His parents, both of aristocratic background, narrowly avoided the guillotine during the aftermath of the French Revolution, and were exiled to England. They were later able to return to France during the reign of Napoleon. His father supported the Bourbon...
Ian Sansom on Libraries, Writing, and Flapjacks (03/10)
On his website Ian Sansom speaks about the role libraries have played in his life:

'Libraries are places where you go to invent and reinvent yourself, or maybe just to use the toilet, if they have toilet facilities, and to find out how other people have reinvented themselves, and what they've written on the walls, and the desks, and in the...
To Read or Not To Read in Series Order (03/10)
When I was a teenager, my mother gave me some advice which I almost immediately ignored. We were both avid readers who preferred reading to talking and most of our limited conversation was about what we were reading.

She had enjoyed English novelist Norah Lofts's trilogy about the history of a house and the stories of the people ...
The WPA's American Guide Series (11/09)

State by State was inspired by the American Guide Series, a project that grew out of The Federal Writers Program (FWP). FWP was established in 1935 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The FWP employed over 6000 Depression-era writers, editors, historians, researchers,...

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