'Lullaby' by Leïla Slimani: A terrifying thriller that will scare the socks off you if you've got little one!
by Rana Asfour
This novella revolves around the case of a nanny who is found dead in the nursery of the two children she has just killed before taking her own life. If you're worried, this is NOT a spoiler because the story opens up with the murder and we know what's happened and who's done it. What we don't know is the why and that's one of the reasons most of us will read on.
The book's back cover (paperback edition in this case) asks: Is 'Lullaby' the next 'Gone Girl'? - simple answer is No! the only thing I found in common is that both books are thrillers and the main protagonist in both novels is a female. And that's where the resemblance ends.
I'll be honest with you, this is one of those novels that the more I read the more I was grateful my child no longer required a babysitter/nanny. So, if you're a parent, especially of little ones, I suggest that you sit this one out. It will terrify the socks off of you! No kidding! I mean, come on, it's about a nanny who slaughters the two children in her care. And she seemed quite normal-ish to everyone around her up until that point. However, if some of you new mums are still willing to brave this, then all I'll say is that YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
This is a short book - only 207 pages - so if you're a fast reader you'll finish it in one go, just like I did. And if you feel at the end of it that you suffer a case of wanting to fling the book across the room after you're done, then by all means do so. I did. I found the ending so frustrating that I don't know if I'm ever going to forgive the writer. Maybe at some point - I've got a soft spot for writers - but right now It's too soon to confirm if I will. I'm also thinking that maybe I'll have to, because the book just won't leave me alone. I find myself thinking about it all the time. And that really is the main reason this book has been a major success.
'Lullaby' is translated from the French by Sam Taylor and it's a translation that's very well done. The writing flows and the reader is engaged at all times. I enjoyed the premise of the book but my only beef with the novel is that it really was too short, barely allowing space for all the themes in the book to expand and consolidate. I was also disappointed with regards the reasons that lead the nanny to flip. That said though, it's a very good and gripping read and I highly recommend it.
The Back Cover (amazon.co.uk)
When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.
The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul's idyllic tableau is shattered...
Leïla Slimani is a Franco-Moroccan writer and journalist. In 2016 she was awarded the Prix Goncourt for her novel 'Chanson douce' (Lullaby).
by Rana Asfour
So we’re moving AGAIN … After a period of just under five years, my time amongst the wonderful people of the UAE is coming to a close. Six months down the line, the BookFabulous family will be off to make a new home in Washington DC. Mr. BookFabulous has found himself a new media challenge in the American capital and so off we go! I won’t say my goodbyes just yet Abu Dhabi, I’ll save the tears for when the time comes when I have to get on that plane.
So, with nothing left for me to do during the few days when my home’s contents were being attacked by a swarm of hands hired to secure my life into boxes, I retreated to the café next door to begin reading an apt novel that my baby brother (who’s ahem really in his mid 30s) gifted me for New Year. A wonderful cheery tale by Lucy Diamond entitled ‘The House of New Beginnings’ published by Pan Macmillan.
It’s a novel set in Brighton in the UK, and involves three women whose paths cross when they move into Building 11 on Dukes Square. It ‘s a heartwarming tale about bravely starting anew and finding friendship and even love in the unlikeliest of encounters. It’s a novel that’s funny, and warm and packed with yummy cooking that I wished there were a recipe section at the end of the book for all the mouth-watering food the characters seemed to enjoy.
In a fun and amazing twist, I tweeted how the book could not have been read at a better time in my life and the amazing Lucy Diamond replied back and wished me the best of luck on my move. How brilliant is she??? And, just so you know, she wrote the book while surrounded by packing boxes too.
The Pen Centre USA 2017 Literary Awards Winners Include Lebanese author Rabee Jaber's translated book 'Confessions'
This week the Pen Centre USA announced the winners of their literary awards with the award in translation going to Kareem James Abu Zeid for his translation of Lebanese author Rabee Jaber's book 'Confessions' into English.
The 2017 Literary Awards will be presented at The 27th Annual Literary Awards Festival at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel where Margaret Atwood ('The Handmaid’s Tale', 'Oryx and Crake', 'The Blind Assassin') will be honoured with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. Atwood has authored over 40 books in addition to her work as an environmental activist and inventor. The event will be hosted by award-winning actor and author Nick Offerman ('Parks and Recreation', 'The Founder', 'Fargo').
Following is a list of the winners in their respective categories:
'Black Sheep Boy' by Martin Pousson - Fiction/ Rare Bird Publishing
'When Breath Becomes Air' by Paul Kalanithi - Non Fiction/ Random House Publishing
'The Perfect Horse' by Elizabeth Letts - Research Non Fiction/ Ballantine Publishing
'Look' by Solmaz Sharif - Poetry/ Graywolf Publishing
'Outrun the Moon' by Stacey Lee/ G.P. Putnam's Sons for Young Readers
'Confessions' by Rabee Jaber translated by Kareem James abu Zeid - Translation/ New Directions Publishing
'The White Flight of Derek Black' by Eli Saslow - Journalism/ The Washington Post
'Roe' by Lisa Loomer - Drama
by Rana Asfour
I am always conflicted when a book I particularly enjoyed reading is to be given the Hollywood treatment.
I have found that my reservation is rooted in selfishness. A part of me refuses to relinquish its hold on an appropriated image - and experience - that I feel is not only mine but should remain mine alone. Characters - however imaginary - are real to their readers and develop a personality that is dependent not only on what the writer tells us about the characters but also on our interpretation of what we are being told. Every reader arrives at a book with their own set of experiences, prejudices, and view of the world and if Edmund Wilson is to be believed then never will 'two persons read the same book' and never will the same person read the same book in the same way twice.
With that, I have come to appreciate that reading a book and watching an adaptation of it on screen are two separate experiences that when you think about it allows a fresh perspective on the familiar. Besides, let's face it, seeing your characters being given flesh and blood is exciting and there's a lot to be said when it comes to time out at the cinema. Isn't there?
What do you think?
Fiction nominations for 2017 National American Book Award
List of non-fiction books nominated for the 2017 American National Award:
by Rana Asfour
It's out! The much anticipated shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize that is and I must say that four out of six ain't bad! that is the number of the books on that shortlist that BookFabulous has already read and also loved! so this is going to be one hell of a tight competition and calling it is going to be tough.
The Shortlist includes 'Elmet' by Fiona Mozley, 'History of Wolves' by Emily Fridlund, 'Autumn' by Ali Smith, 'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid, 'Lincoln in the Bardo' by George Saunders, and '4321' by Paul Auster.
If you've been following the BookFabulous Instagram feed, you'll know that we've already read all but two of the shortlisted titles which are 'Elmet' and 'History of Wolves' which we will completing this week. The winner will be announced on 17 October.
'Elmet' by Fiona Mozley
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn't true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family's precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.
'History of Wolves' by Emily Fridlund
Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in an ex-commune beside a lake in the beautiful, austere backwoods of northern Minnesota. The other girls at school call Linda 'Freak', or 'Commie'. Her parents mostly leave her to her own devices, whilst the other inhabitants have grown up and moved on.
So when the perfect family - mother, father and their little boy, Paul - move into the cabin across the lake, Linda insinuates her way into their orbit. She begins to babysit Paul and feels welcome, that she finally has a place to belong.
Yet something isn't right. Drawn into secrets she doesn't understand, Linda must make a choice. But how can a girl with no real knowledge of the world understand what the consequences will be?
'Autumn' by Ali Smith
Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.
Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever . . .
'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid
Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing - to fall in love - in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.
Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind - when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .
'Lincoln in the Bardo' by George Saunders
The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War
The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body.
From this seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling, supernatural domain both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself trapped in a transitional realm - called, in Tibetan tradition, the bardo - and as ghosts mingle, squabble, gripe and commiserate, and stony tendrils creep towards the boy, a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie's soul.
Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders' inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices - living and dead, historical and fictional - Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end?
'4321' by Paul Auster
On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson's story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up-again and again and again.
As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written 4 3 2 1 is an unforgettable tour de force, the crowning work of this masterful writer's extraordinary career.
by Rana Asfour
'Season of Stories' has, today, sent out the first of its three months of hand-picked short stories. The season kicks off with 'Prom' by Hasan Minhaj. Expect future stories from acclaimed authors such as Lee Child, James McBride, Jenny Zhang, Charles Yu, Denis Johnson, and Aimee Bender.
So this is how this works: Each week, you get a new short story delivered to your inbox in four instalments, sent daily from Tuesday until the conclusion on Friday. The bite-sized newsletter will give you just the right amount to read while commuting, waiting in line, or during your lunch break. And it's all free.
Check out more HERE and click HERE to see a list of all the books they featured from last season.
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