The New Statesman: Books of the Year (an Abbreviated List)

Books of 2010, recommended by contributors to the British politics & culture magazine, the New Statesman:

  • Recommended by Fatima Bhutto:   Basharat Peer’s Curfewed Night, “a courageous and necessary book on Kashmir”
  • Recommended by Lesley Chamberlain:   Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo trilogy, for “absolutely no metaphors, and no gratuitous description of character”
  • Recommended by Amanda Craig:   Ben MacIntyre’s Operation Mincemeat, about “the true story behind the plot to make Hitler believe, by means of papers planted on a corpse, that the Allies were going to invade Greece rather than Sicily”
  • Recommended by Amanda Foreman:   Antony Beevor’s D-Day, “vivid and visceral”
  • Recommended by John Gray:   Frank Dicotter’s Mao’s Great Famine:  the History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958 – 62, “the first study of the famine to be based on the internal archives of the Communist Party of China”
  • Recommended by Olivia Laing:   Under the Sun:  the Letters of Bruce Chatwin, which portrays Chatwin as “a glittering, peripatetic figure, darting around the globe in pursuit of rare objects and experiences … “
  • Recommended by Toby Litt:   Cheever:  A Life, “a sobering read”
  • Recommended by Tom McCarthy:   “Go and take an MA in Comparative 20th Century Literature.”
  • Recommended by Julie Myerson:   Rupert Thomson’s family memoir, This Party’s Got to Stop
  • Recommended by Jonathan Powell:   Andrew Graham-Dixon’s Caravaggio:  A Life Sacred and Profane, about the man who found “time to invent a completely new form of painting,” along with “much whoring, gambling and fighting”
  • Recommended by Leo Robson:   Peter Biskind’s Star:  The Life and Wild Times of Warren Beatty, “a tale of talent thwarted by egomania”
  • Recommended by Dominic Sandbrook:   Tim Pears’s novel Landed, “the story of a bereaved man adrift in modern Britain”
  • Recommended by Sarah Sands:   Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, “a portrait of a marriage, luminously and wittily drawn against a backdrop of modern America”
  • Recommended by Michael Sayeau:   David Shields’s Reality Hunger:  A Manifesto, “a refreshing reopening of the question of what it is that we do, should be doing, when we write fiction … “
  • Recommended by Adam Thirlwell:   the Hungarian novelist Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s Animalinside, translated by Otilie Mulzet, a book that Colm Toibin says, in his preface, “is concerned with limits, with what can happen if language is pushed further than its own decorous rules might suggest”

Really Good Ideas for Christmas

Subscriptions are the best!  Subscriptions, or books.  Subscriptions, books, or writing classes.

Buy someone a subscription to Calyx Journal:  beautiful inside as well as out.  Do women of the world a favor and subscribe

Buy someone a subscription to Women’s Review of Books:  consistently publishes the most interesting book reviews in America:  Self knows whereof she speaks, since she’s been subscribing for decades to the New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker, and writes book reviews herself. Why not check out one of the three short story collections self reviewed for them, not too long ago:  Marilyn Krysl’s Dinner With Osama, Jeanne M. Leiby’s Downriver:  Short Stories, and Joy Lisberger’s Remember Love.

Buy Valerie Trueblood’s new short story collection, Marry or Burn.  Self reviewed her novel, Seven Loves, a few years ago.  The stories in this collection are superb.

Buy Jon Pineda’s collection The Translator’s Diary or his new memoir, just out from University of Nebraska Press.

Buy a copy of Zack Linmark’s collection Primetime Apparitions (and stay tuned for his new novel, Leche, coming 2011) and be transported to the city of self’s heart, Manila.

Buy Luis Francia’s newest book, From Indios Bravos to Filipinos:  A History of the Philippines, because you know you want to know all about it —  how Filipinos got where they are, self means.

Buy Karen Llagas’ Archipelago Dust:  your heart will ache, her words are so true.

Buy Barbara Jane Reyes’ powerful new collection, Diwata.

Buy Karen Tei Yamashita’s I-Hotel, recently short-listed for America’s National Book Award, and lose yourself in the language of one of the fiercest experimentalists of our time.

How about Charles Tan’s Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009?  It was reviewed in io9.  io9, people.  Part of indefatigable blog creator Nick Denton’s far-flung blog empire.

Buy/register someone for an on-line creative writing class.  Self knows it can change lives.  Try UCLA Extension Writers Program.

Speculative Fiction: Before “The Hand”, there was “Lizard”

Frederick Barthelme, self loves you for picking “The Hand” to win the Juked Fiction Prize in 2007.

Before “The Hand” (which Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar included in Philippine Speculative Fiction, vol. III, and which Anvil published as part of self’s new collection, The Lost Language), there was “Lizard,”  which was part of Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, published by Calyx in 1991.

Here’s an excerpt:

She saw her mother leaning against a corner of the house, waving a palm-leaf fan slowly back and forth across her face.  Her mother had not seen her.  She was looking down at the ground and seemed to be thinking.  Just at the moment when Wito would have called out to her, she caught sight of something reflected against the white wall of the house.  An unexpected shadow had appeared in profile to her mother’s body.  There was a head, or what Wito assumed was a head, though it looked nothing like her mother’s, and had long, pointed teeth.  When her mother turned her head a little, the shadow moved, too.  Only when Wito had come a little closer did she finally make out what it was —  there, growing out of her mother’s back, was a huge, scaly lizard.

Self wrote this story when she was in the Stanford Creative Writing Program.  Would you believe, the story was driven by homesickness?

A long time ago, self used to know someone named Wito.  Now, no one she knows is called by that name.  Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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