Bedrock Faith Live Show Discussion

 

Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May – 432 pages – Akashic Books

Rating – 4,5 stars

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Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist 2017

longlist-animation

The 2017 Baileys prize for women’s fiction longlist:

Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò (Canongate)

The Power by Naomi Alderman (Viking)

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (Hogarth)

Little Deaths by Emma Flint (Picador)

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill (Serpent’s Tail)

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant (Virago)

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber)

Midwinter by Fiona Melrose (Corsair)

The Sport of Kings by CE Morgan (4th Estate)

The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (Chatto & Windus)

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill (riverrun)

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (Serpent’s Tail)

Barkskins by Annie Proulx (4th Estate)

First Love by Gwendoline Riley (Granta)

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (Granta)

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain (Chatto & Windus)

So I only guessed two right. Now that I look at the list I should have suspected The Woman Next Door would wind up on the list. So hard to know with this prize.  The books I’m most interested to read are The Sport of Kings, The Power, Do not Say We Have Nothing(on my TBR this year), The Woman Next Door (on my TBR this year), Stay With Me, and finally The Lesser Bohemians.  Sadly the only book I’ve already read on this list is Barkskins.  It will be a tight race for the shortlist.  I’ll be trying to focus on the few I’ve named. So what do you think of this list? Do you feel it’s better than last year’s? I was a little surprised that Swing Time didn’t make it.  Thoughts?

 

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Evelyn Dove Britain's Black Cabaret Queen

#NonfictionNovember2016 has come and gone. Sadly it coincided with the disastrous US Evelyn Dovepresidential election results.  I was down for a while but am slowly getting back to happy and Evelyn Dove was one of the books that brightened my November.  If #NonfictionNovember has taught me anything, it’s that I clearly need to read more of it.

I’m sure none of you have heard of Evelyn Dove. I was excited to receive this book for review  from Jacaranda Books, a London-based independent publishing company which publishes books that are culturally diverse from Africa and the Caribbean.  Stephen Bourne the author of Evelyn Dove Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen begins the novel as he’s searching for information on this forgotten star.

Evelyn Dove was a trail blazer for black women performers like Josephine Baker and Shirley Bassey.  She was born January 11, 1902, Evelyn Mary Dove.  Somehow her greatness has been lost to the past.  She was elegant, beautiful, and a wonderful singer, who mesmerized audiences all over the world – from Italy to France to New York and even India.  She starred in cabarets in all of these countries.

Evelyn Dove grew up between Ghana and London.  Her father, Frans Dove was a distinguished barrister from Sierra Leone. Apparently at the beginning of the twentieth century many Africans sought out higher education in Britain. It is there where Francis Thomas Dove met Evelyn’s mother, Augusta Winchester a white English woman.  So, Evelyn was naturally brought up in Britain.  She studied at the Royal Academy of Music and from there on her career in performing began.

The reader will be taken through a rich period of performing arts, while learning about Evelyn Dove’s life.  The book has plenty of pictures of Dove in costume throughout her career and pictures of her family.  For such a short book I can say I learned a lot about the performing arts at the beginning of the twentieth century.  For all of you looking for an interesting, easy to read non-fiction that will take you back in time, Evelyn Dove Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen is a must read. Check out the video I’ve linked below of Evelyn Dove performing the Negro spiritual, Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray.

“Stephen Bourne has been specializing in black British histories since 1991.  He has written over 15 books, including the acclaimed Black in the British Frame:  The Black Experience in British Film and Television Second Edition, Elisabeth Welch:  Soft Lights and Sweet Music and The Motherland Calls:  Britain’s Black Servicemen and Women 1939-1945.  Bourne received the 2015 Southwark Arts Forum Award for Literature for Black Poppies:  Britain’s Black Community and the Great War.  He is a regular contributor to BBC documentaries and has written for many publications, including The Voice, The Independent, BBC History Magazine and History Today.” (quoted from press release)

I’d like to thank Jacaranda Books for sending me this beautiful book for review.  I enjoyed every moment of my reading experience and finding this video on YouTube is the icing on the cake.

My Copy: Evelyn Dove Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen – paperback, 160 pages

My rating:  4 stars

 

 

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Barkskins

barkskinsBarkskins is Annie Proulx’s fifth novel, which was released in January 2016.  Epic, powerful, and engaging from page one, Barkskins follows two Frenchmen René and Duquet who are indentured to a seigneur Trépagny in New France. There they are to become barkskins, wood cutters.  From these two men the reader follows their lineage and the travels they make which takes us through Canada, the United States, and as far away as New Zealand.

The recurring man against nature theme is present throughout the novel.  We witness the simultaneous destruction of the Native Indians and of their land.  The Native Indians’ desire to live in symbiosis with nature while the white settlers only desire to clear the trees and to force the savage surroundings into their new homes at all cost.  The first half of the book clearly depicts the brutality used to clear off all that was undesired by the white settlers.  As for the Native Indians they were forced to accept the ways of the white settlers or to perish like their ancestors.

The lineages of René and Duquet are perfect examples of how people go about surviving in such difficult unchartered territory.  It’s survival of the fittest. Proulx uses fire as a way of wiping the slate clean because with each new generation comes more hopes and dreams to be had.

Barkskins reads as an epic novel on a grand scale.  There is much to take in from detailed descriptions of lumbering practices to unforgettable characters that will suck you into the story and make you forget that the novel is 713 pages.  Not to mention, Prouxl’s writing is stellar.  She never misses a beat to let you know the slightest thing about a character in one seemingly insignificant sentence.  It’s all in the details people.  If you’re a detailed reader you’ll catch all that she wants to say about a character without spending too much time. The pacing is perfect and has the ups and downs needed to keep a large epic novel like this moving.  If there are any books that are a must read this year it’s Barkskins. You won’t be disappointed. Proulx even manages to make the story come full circle and to give us a bit of a message at the end.  Perfection!  I was so afraid the ending was going to be flat but she finessed it beautifully, henceforth me giving Barkskins 5 stars.

My copy:  Barkskins,  Hardcover, 736 pages – Fourth Estate

My rating: 5 stars

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Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017 Longlist Predictions

The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is one of the literary prizes  thatI look forward to the most.  It is a prestigious UK  prize, founded in 1996, that honors great women writers from all over the world. Wednesday, March 8th the Baileys Women’s Prize Longlist will be announced.  Traditionally the longlist contains 20 choices however this year it may contain less than that.  Regardless of the amount decided on, the longlist should be extremely competitive.  There have been a plethora of excellent novels from well-known powerhouses as well as debut novelists in the period from April 1, 2016  to March 31, 2017 (of course all novels have to be published in the UK during this period to be eligible).  The list is long and illustrious.  I can’t say I’ve read enough of the books that I think would fit the prize’s longlist this year, but I believe I have a pretty good idea of what might wind up on it.

So here are my predictions starting with the books that I’ve read:

 

From the books I haven’t read yet but looking forward to:

 

And finally for the titles I don’t plan on reading that could make it on the list:

 

Those are my predictions but I could be totally wrong. There are really so many great books by women out there.  So what are your predictions for the Baileys Women’s Prize Longlist 2017?  Do you follow this prize or are you anti-literary prizes?

 

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