Tag Archives: Elle Magazine

ELLE Announces 2012 Readers’ Prize GRAND PRIX: FICTION

The following is from ELLE MAGAZINE, December issue, page 232.

More than 1,000 copies comprising 36 different books sent out to 180 readers–this year kept us as busy as ever bringing you monthly the only democratically elected literary prize in magazines.  Our industrious jurors voted for their favorite in a monthly trio of new fiction or nonfiction releases, then weighed that winner against the five finalists selected by other juries throughout the year.  The envelope, please…

FICTION

Liza Klaussmann, Tigers in Red Weather (Little, Brown)

 

Klaussmann toiled for The New York Times for years before turning to creative writing, but it was in her blood all along: She’s a great-great-great-granddaughter of Herman Melville.  Her debut novel–which readers selected over the latest by the likes of Lionel Shriver, Stewart O’Nan, and Anne Tyler–opens not in Nantucket but on Martha’s Vineyard, where, just after World War II, two women have holed up, with their children and their existential troubles, in the family summer home.

While Helena has married the debonair and deceptive Avery, her cousin Nick struggles to keep her dwindling marriage to Hughes together.  Only at Tiger House, where gin and whiskey are daily staples, can facade and denial flourish and endure.  When their children come across a gruesome discovery, it spells the beginning of the end for secrets and lies that have shrouded the family for too long.” –Ivy V. Pittman, Montclair, NJ

Klaussmann channels F. Scott Fitzgerald in her decades-spanning tale, which suspensefully and chillingly allows us to witness events as five different people see them, showing how much point of view matters in storytelling.” –Jaime Boler, Laurel, MS

Congratulations are definitely in order for Klaussmann!

 

I am thrilled my blurb made the print edition.

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Suspenseful Family Novels

I read these books for Elle Magazine’s March 2012 Readers’ Prize.

The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan (St. Martin’s)

Phan takes readers from Vietnam to Malaysia and then to France and Los Angeles in this sweeping, heart-wrenching tale. The Truong and Vo families leave their war-ravaged homeland for better lives but find themselves separated from each other both physically and emotionally. Yet Cherry’s journey to Vietnam to reconnect with her exiled brother evidences how the families are forever bound together. Phan gives readers a story rich in history, showing us that while families might be separated, familial ties remain strong.—Jaime Boler, Laurel, MS

Forgotten Country by Catherine Chung (Riverhead)

In Forgotten Country, first-time novelist Chung skillfully weaves together memory, history, and Korean folk tales to tell us the beautiful story of a family who left Korea for the United States 20 years ago. The father is dying of cancer, while the younger sister has cut off all ties to her family. Seeking cutting-edge cancer treatment, what is left of the family goes back to Korea. In the country they left behind all those years ago, the whole family finally reconnects and slowly learns to forgive each other for past misdeeds. Chung shows us that one person can be different people in different countries; one’s homeland, one’s birthplace, should never be a “forgotten country.”—Jaime Boler, Laurel, MS

Other Waters by Eleni N. Gage
(St. Martin’s)

Gage’s novel is like a fictional version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. In Other Waters, Maya undergoes a life-changing journey that takes her from Manhattan to India. I love how believable the tale is and how Maya successfully navigates two cultures in creating a new identity for herself.—Jaime Boler, Laurel, MS

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In Love and War

1. “The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Journalist in Yemen” by Jennifer Steil (favorite of the three)

2. “The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam” by G. Willow Wilson

3. “Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War” by Megan K. Stack

Jennifer Steil and “The Woman Who Fell from the Sky” captivated me. Part memoir, part travelogue, part love story, it offered a fascinating look at Yemeni culture. Especially interesting was her argument that Yemeni people saw Steil, an American woman, as a third gender. She was clearly not a man but she was not a Yemeni woman, bound by cultural constraints, either. She was able to walk among men and women. Most of those she came in contact with respected her and wanted to learn from her.

G. Willow Wilson helped me see the error of my ethnocentric ways. As an American woman, I had a tendency to view Islam and the veil as sexist, backward, and oppressive. However, in “The Butterfly Mosque, it was Wilson’s choice to be Muslim and to wear a chador. Her extraordinary true story allowed me to see how, for Wilson, her conversion was freeing and enlightening. I was able to see her experience through a new lens and am better for it.

Do Elle readers really need an “education in war”? That was the question in my mind after finishing Megan K. Stack’s “Every Man in This Village Is a Liar.” There was just nothing new, fresh, or groundbreaking. Although I appreciated how Stack risked her life for the story, it seems we already know this stuff. Stack’s account would have had more impact if it had been published a few years ago. Her disillusion with the war is nothing new either as many Americans feel the same way.

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