World Book Night: Top 10 Books for Reluctant Readers

World Book Night 2015Thousands of volunteers and institutions will be getting involved with World Book Night tomorrow and giving away around 250,000 special editions of 20 different books to people in their communities. While World Book Day celebrates reading specifically for children, World Book Night was established in 2011 as an alternative celebration for adults. 35% of the  population in the UK never read for pleasure and World Book Night is about reaching as many people as possible who don’t regularly read, particularly in prisons, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters. As well as improving literacy and employability, reading has profound positive effects including social interaction through participating in book groups, as well as general well-being and happiness.

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How to be both by Ali Smith

How to be BothNow that the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has been released, I am taking a break from reading and reviewing translated fiction for a while. ‘How to be both’ by Ali Smith has been shortlisted for just about every major literary award in recent months including the Man Booker Prize, the Folio Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Costa Book Awards as well as winning the Goldsmiths Prize and the more I have heard about it in recent months, the more I have wanted to read it. One half is set in fifteenth century Italy and tells the story of al fresco Renaissance artist Franceshco del Cossa. The other half is set in modern Britain and tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl called George whose mother has recently died.  Continue reading

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The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Shortlist 2015

Independent Foreign Fiction PrizeThe official shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced this week:

We can also reveal our shadow jury shortlist:

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Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Boyhood IslandTranslated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett, ‘Boyhood Island’ is the third instalment of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ambitious six-book cycle of autobiographical novels known as ‘My Struggle’. Having explored some of Knausgaard’s later childhood in ‘A Death in the Family‘, the second volume ‘A Man in Love‘ jumped forward in time to concentrate on his experiences of fatherhood. As you may guess from the title, ‘Boyhood Island’ jumps back in time again to Knausgaard’s childhood. Continue reading

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While the Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier and The Last Lover by Can Xue

While the Gods Were Sleeping‘While the Gods Were Sleeping’ by Erwin Mortier and translated from the Dutch by Paul Vincent tells the story of Helena Demont, a very elderly woman approaching her hundredth birthday who is reflecting on her experiences as a young woman living in Belgium at the start of the First World War. The story explores Helena’s relationships with her French mother, Belgian father, brother Edgard and her British husband Matthew with whom she has a daughter. Continue reading

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By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel

By Night the Mountain Burns‘By Night the Mountain Burns’ by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel is the first novel by an author from Equatorial Guinea to be longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It is also only the second book from the country ever to be translated into English and recounts the narrator’s childhood memories of living on the small remote island of Annobón in the South Atlantic Ocean where the inhabitants deal with various crises including a bush fire and a cholera epidemic. Continue reading

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Bloodlines by Marcello Fois

untitled‘Bloodlines’ by Marcello Fois and translated from the Italian by Silvester Mazzarella tells the story of the Chironi family during the early twentieth century in Sardinia. Michele Angelo Chironi, a blacksmith and Mercede Lai are both orphans who marry seven months after they first meet at a church in 1889. While the early years of their marriage are happy ones, their lives are plagued with misfortune after the turn of the century. Continue reading

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