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.
by Rana Asfour
The past three days have seen me struck down with a flu that has completely floored me and is turning my life into a nightmare robbing me of even my few hours of sleep as a long suffering insomniac. It feels like I'm dying.
Before you think it, I realise that my self-indulgent drama pales in the wake of current catastrophic world events such as Hurricane Harvey in Houston and now Irma on its destructive path to Miami as I type. However, with a capital H if you please, Bob Marley once said, 'A man is a universe within himself'. Some will of course argue that I've taken this quote out of all context in order to unashamedly use it (or abuse it - your choice) for my own personal exoneration from a crime that can only be described as self-indulgent - and they are most likely right. However, in defence, I ascribe my unhinged and unbalanced reasoning to a blockage in all brain ducts responsible for 'seeing the big picture' brought on by a diminished oxygen supply to the brain as a result of influenza's worst affliction on my being: a blocked nose. I have been reduced to a snotty, snivelling, barely functional human being, highly contagious and wracked with a cough that renders a twenty-a-day smoker to a fumbling amateur.
And yet, as I wallow in a sea of pity surrounded by soggy tissues and Strepsils I cast my eye around my bedroom and spot a salvation that had been there, right under my blocked and swollen-red nose all along. A few months ago, at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature I purchased a book called appropriately 'The Novel Cure' written by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin. Aiming straight for the Index of Ailments at the back of the book I scroll down until I find the word 'flu' and then it's off to page 173
These brilliant women have found a strange coincidence they write - a breakthrough I insist - 'that no medical doctor or scientific researcher has yet noticed, or even studied: the moment a flu patient begins to read an Agatha Christie novel marks the commencement of their recovery'. They recommend 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd', the novel that confirmed Christie's genius as a writer of detective fiction.
Their reasoning? They maintain that the aches, chills, fever, sore throat, runny nose - 'all these are nothing compared to the determination to work out the guilty party before Poirot'. Deliciously, under 'Common Cold' they list other books that can help a flu sufferer and are perfect when combined with a warm blanket and a hot drink. Some include 'Memoirs of a Geisha' by Arthur Golden, 'The Devil Wears Prada' by Lauren Weisberger, and my personal favourite 'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd to name a few. They even have an entry for 'Man Flu' under which they recommend 'Les Misérables' - told you they were geniuses - as if one needed a scientist to prove that one?!
And one last word for those of you who are shaking your heads right and left believing that nothing ever really beats a cold, they've got an entry just for you: It's also under C for 'Cynicism' or frankly under K for 'Killjoy'.
Oh and I'll have you know I'm feeling much better already :)
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