It’s that time of year again…literary award season. Here is a list of some of the recent winners that might intrigue your book club, interest you personally, or make a great Christmas gift for someone special:
In A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James combines brilliant storytelling with his unrivaled skills of characterization and meticulous eye for detail to forge an enthralling novel of dazzling ambition and scope.
On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumors abound regarding the assassins’ fates, and there are suspicions that the attack was politically motivated.
A Brief History of Seven Killings delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. James deftly chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – gunmen, drug dealers, one-night stands, CIA agents, even ghosts – over the course of thirty years as they roam the streets of 1970s Kingston, dominate the crack houses of 1980s New York, and ultimately reemerge into the radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Along the way, they learn that evil does indeed cast long shadows, that justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and that no one can truly escape his fate.
Gripping and inventive, shocking and irresistible, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a mesmerizing modern classic of power, mystery, and insight. – Publisher’s Summary
It begins with a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo: “that animals would be even more unhappy than humans are if they were given human intelligence.” This leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, André Alexis’s contemporary take on the moral fable offers a compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. – Publisher’s Summary
Stalin’s Daughter is a work of narrative non-fiction on a grand scale, combining popular history and biography to tell the incredible story of a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of one of history’s most monstrous dictators. Svetlana Stalina, who died on November 22, 2011, at the age of eighty-five, was the only daughter and the last surviving child of Josef Stalin. Beyond Stalina’s controversial defection to the US in a cloak-and-dagger escape via India in 1967, her journey from life as the beloved daughter of a fierce autocrat to death in small-town Wisconsin is an astonishing saga. – Publisher’s Summary
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2015 is awarded to the Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” – Jury Statement
Bestselling author Guy Vanderhaeghe’s new book of fiction is both timely and timeless and showcases his supreme talent as a storyteller and poignant observer of the human condition. Among these nine addictive and resonant stories: A teenage boy breaks out of the strict confines of his family, his bid for independence leads him in over his head. He learns about life in short order and there is no turning back. An actor’s penchant for hiding behind a role, on and off stage, is tested to the limits and what he comes to discover finally places him face to face with the truth. With his mother hospitalized for a nervous condition and his father away on long work stints, a boy is sent to another family for his meals. His gradually building relationship with a teenage daughter who has been left handicapped from Polio opens unexpected doors to the world. In the powerful title story, a middle-aged man remeets his former adviser at university, a charismatic and domineering professor dubbed Daddy Lenin. As their tense reunion progresses, secrets from the past painfully revise remembered events and threaten to topple the scaffolding of a marriage. – Publisher’s Summary
In his exquisite Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, Mark L. Winston distills a life’s devotion to the study of bees into a powerful and lyrical meditation on humanity. This compelling book inspires us to reevaluate our own relationships both with each other and the natural world. Vital reading for our time. – Jury Statement