Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018. The prize was previously known as the Bailey’s and the Orange Prize. The author is described as creating a book that “spoke for our times. Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties love and politics.” Commended for her mastery, the book is written in five parts, each voicing their truth in the tale. Based on the struggles of Antigone who wrestled with loyalty to family or the ruling elite, this modern setting places characters sensitive to ethnicity, religion and ideologies. British Muslim characters, with family connections to extremism, face prejudice and personal dilemma in reaction to family, the state and justice.
Home fire / Shamsie, Kamila
“Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love? A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.” (Catalogue)
Pulitzer and Booker Prize-winning author Philip Roth has died at the age of 85. Roth drew much of his inspiration from his Jewish background as well as his hometown of Weequahic in Newark, New Jersey. Over the course of his career he was lauded as one of America’s greatest–and most controversial–novelists, especially for his sexually explicit novel Portnoy’s Complaint which scandalised America and turned Roth into a major celebrity.
Roth wrote prolifically over the course of his career, which he self-consciously ended in 2009 after publishing more than 30 books and winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 work American Pastoral. This body of work included several highly-acclaimed historical novels, however the question of identity, especially in the huge melting pot of America, was his lifelong writing obsession.
“Roth is an extremist. He loves to shock, to go beyond the limits of acceptability. That’s why he’s so funny. But it’s also why he’s not to everyone’s taste,” wrote author William Skidelsky in the Guardian in 2011.
Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, one of America’s leading literary figures, born 2 March 1930, has died on 14 May 2018. He was perhaps best known for his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities which was about the fall of a young Wall Street trader. It is often described as the novel that defined the 80’s and turned Wolfe into a superstar author, a role he relished with his famous flamboyant suits. He was however very far from a one book wonder. The Right Stuff was his non-fiction account of America’s first manned space flights and was turned into a multiple Oscar winning movie. Likewise, his account of Ken Kesey and the merry pranksters’ LSD soaked voyage of discovery across America in the sixties came to be one of the books that defined the flower power generation in much the same way as The Bonfire of the Vanities did for the 80s.
Local Wellingtonian author Pip Adam has won the top fiction prize at the Ockham NZ Book Awards with her fantastic novel The New Animals. Published in 2017, this is Pip’s second novel. The award win includes a $50,000 cash prize and has been won previously by Catherine Chidgey, Eleanor Catton, Emily Perkins and other fantastic writers.
In November we interviewed Pip about The New Animals, so make sure to give the blog post a read if you haven’t already. We have the book in our collection in both print and ebook formats, so be sure to reserve it now!
The new animals / Pip Adam.
“Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember, for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millenials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.” (adapted from Syndetics)
The literary world will be a much sadder place after the announcement of the death of Anita Shreve. She was a very popular, internationally acclaimed, bestselling author. Before becoming a full time novelist she was a teacher and a journalist. She really came into the public arena with “The weight of water” published in 1997 which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and turned into a film by Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow. Her most recent novel was “The stars are fire” published in 2017. Her books often revolved around the after effects of one single dramatic event and she liked to explore the subtleties of human relationships in often a highly nuanced and skilled fashion.
The very popular historical thriller writer Philip Kerr has died of cancer aged 62. Born in Scotland he became a full time writer in 1989, beginning his career with the character Bernie Gunther and the ‘Berlin Noir’ trilogy. He continued with ten more novels featuring Bernie Gunther and the third titled, If the Dead Rise Not, published in 2009, won several Crime Writing awards. Fifteen other novels were published, two non-fiction and ten books of fiction for children, these under the pseudonym of P. B. Kerr.
His last novel published this year is titled Greeks Bearing Gifts, again featuring the character Bernie Gunther.
The accomplished feminist New Zealand writer Beryl Fletcher has died aged 80.
She graduated from Waikato University in 1979 with a master’s degree in Sociology. She went on to study and lecture, until her first short story was published in 1964, and she decided to become a fiction writer. Her first novel The Word Burners, published in 1991 won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best First Book, Asia/Pacific region. Four other novels followed, her last published in 1999 titled The Bloodwood Clan. She spent many years as writer in residence in universities located in Waikato, New York, and Wellington. She also taught memoir at Humboldt University in Germany. She believed the role of a feminist writer was to open and expand ideas by exploring older texts, situations or opinions.
The popular British author Penny Vincenzi, author of 17 novels and two collections of short stories, has died aged 78. Her writing career began as a fashion journalist, working for various publications that included the Daily Mirror and Vogue. Old Sins was the title of her first novel published in 1989. Her novels have sold over 7 million copies internationally. Her last novel A Question of Trust was published in 2017.
The acclaimed American fantasy writer Ursula Le Guin has died aged 88 years. She is best known for her novel The Left Hand of Darkness published in 1969 and for her Earthsea fantasy series, with the first of the six books, A Wizard of Earthsea published in 1968.
Ursula Le Guin was also an essayist, poet and writer of non-fiction. Her novels have won five Locus, two Hugo and four Nebula awards. She has received nineteen Reader’s Choice Locus awards, far surpassing any other fantasy writer.
Her last book of essays titled No time to spare: thinking about what matters is due for publication this year.
Recently the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Award winners were announced. The Best Crime Novel was awarded to Fiona Sussman for her novel titled The Last Time We Spoke.
The Best First Novel prize was awarded to Finn Bell, for his novel titled Dead Lemons.
The Ngaio Marsh Awards originated in 2010 for excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery, and thriller writing. In 2016 the award for best First Novel was added and in 2017 another category was also added for the Best Non Fiction.