Literature Online Books

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

No Comment - Post a comment

Are you a writer longing to be discovered? Submit your manuscript for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It’s the perfect opportunity to become the next great novelist: the winning author will receive a publishing contract from Penguin Group, including promotional support for their book on, and a media suite from Hewlett-Packard. All entrants are eligible to self-publish their novel with CreateSpace and sell it on Enter your manuscript for consideration by November 5, 2007.

Contest Process and Timeline is accepting unpublished English language works of fiction for entry in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award through November 5, 2007.

Once the submission period ends, Amazon editors and top Amazon customer reviewers will read submissions and select authors for the semi-final round, beginning January 15, 2008. Each semi-finalist will receive a full review of their manuscript by Publishers Weekly and a book page on featuring a short excerpt from their novel that customers can download, read, and review. Penguin will select manuscripts to read from the semi-final round based on customer feedback and Publishers Weekly reviews and announce the Top Ten finalists on March 3, 2008. customers will then select the winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Award, to be announced on April 7, 2008.

Register now and break through! Only the first 5,000 submissions will be accepted. The registration deadline is November 5, 2007.


The winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award will receive a full publishing contract from Penguin Group, including promotional support for their novel on, and a media suite from Hewlett-Packard. The nine remaining finalists will receive a free Total Design Freedom self-publishing package from BookSurge and a media suite from Hewlett-Packard. Semi-finalists will receive a review of their manuscript by Publishers Weekly. Upon conclusion of the contest all entrants will be eligible to make their books available for sale to customers via the CreateSpace self-publishing service at no charge. In addition, all entrants will receive discounted self-publishing services from BookSurge for custom cover design, formatting, and editing.

Visit Amazon to get the detail information

Read More......

Anna Politkovskaya's A Russian Diary

No Comment - Post a comment

A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia

Translated by Arch Tait
(Random House, 2007)

Reviewed by Michelle Risley

Anna Politkovskaya’s brutal murder reveals the incredible risks and the dangers she faced as a journalist reporting on the limitations of Russian democracy. A Russian Diary, her blow-by-blow catalogue of power abuses by and under Putin's government was being translated when, on October 6, 2006, she was shot pointblank in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building. Although the government has denied blame, suspicions against it remain high. Since Putin’s 2000 election, independent reportage has withered as Russian journalists have been threatened, beaten, and murdered. Politkovskaya stood out as one of the few who continued to relentlessly investigate the government's human rights abuses, especially in its war against separatists in the mostly Muslim Chechen Republic.

Politkovskaya includes dismaying examples of these abuses into her diary, and ably folds intricate, complex histories into cogent and readable entries. In a section devoted to the murder of Aslam Maskhadov, Chechnya’s former (and democratically elected) president who later led the resistance against the Russian Army, the details are gruesome. The FSB, successor to the Soviet KGB, announced that it paid $10 million for information on his whereabouts before he was killed. Afterwards, “(h)is stripped dead body was shown all day in close-up on television.” Whatever his faults—and Politkovskya shines a more glowing light on Putin’s opponents than they seem to deserve—Maskhadov restrained extremist factions who considered the Beslan murders of over 335 hostages, including 200 children, to be justified. His assassination at the hands of Russian special forces was praised by government officials.

Because her commentary is more screed than analysis, it would be a relief to credit the reportage to Politkovskaya. Her sweeping and reductive generalizations are meant not to transmit facts, but to convince readers that Russia and Russians are imperiled. "It's as simple as that" seems to sum up her explanation of how Putin’s Russia reached its current array of political, social, and economic crises, but Yeltsin skips off scot-free. "Re-Stalinization is a reality," she asserts. Facets of it have undoubtedly resurfaced, yet the differences in how tyranny was wielded in Soviet Russia and today are as relevant as the similarities. Politkovskya glosses over these. She equates the battle against Chechnya, a war fought in a republic bordering Georgia, against non-ethnic Russians, and which Putin has used as a pretext to slowly consolidate power, with the Great Terror, a top-down, nationwide inquisition that led to the destruction of whatever civil society existed in 1937. Meanwhile, Europe overlooks Putin’s authoritarian tendencies because it "unfortunately, is tired of hearing how evil Putin is," preferring instead "to be fooled by how good he is." More likely to be at the root of Europe’s tolerance is its dependence on Russian oil.

Interspersed between these diatribes and her capricious assessments of what ails the Russians, who are in turn blighted, lazy, self-absorbed, and cynical, she sympathetically presents disturbing evidence that their lives are becoming ever more precarious. While Russia scaled to third place on this year’s Forbes breakdown of billionaires-by-country, Politkovskaya reports that "(f)orty percent of the population live below even our dire official poverty line." (She goes to great lengths to stress that even oil oligarchs have had to toe Putin’s political line.) The substantial benefits that swathes of Russians—the disabled, soldiers, retirees, victims of the gulag—were accustomed to, and which were possibly the Soviet Union’s only positive legacy, have been virtually extinguished. Putin’s administration sharpened this economic divide by revoking tax privileges for charitable giving in 2002. As a result, the giving halted. Conscripted teenage soldiers are often sent to Chechnya and return to their mothers either maimed or unstable. The government won’t investigate the "suicides" among them, a classification many parents believe is a cover-up for manslaughter. In the Russian Army, hazing can be deadly.

A Russian Diary is wildly uneven and often exasperating. Yet it is also a terrifying, brave, and broad exposé of Putin's metastasizing grip on a people who don't seem to know how to react, or why they should endanger themselves by bothering. To Anna Politkovskaya, indifference was merely self-interest. For all of her cynicism, she genuinely believed that democracy was worth the risk, if not for her, or for her children, then for her grandchildren. Her murder will inspire few to follow suit.

::link source

Read More......

Paradise Travel by Jorge Franco

No Comment - Post a comment

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006

Reviewed by Harry Morales

Paradise Travel, the entrancing new novel by Jorge Franco, offers a heartbreaking and illuminating glimpse of the multi-faceted and confusing world of illegal immigrants in the U.S. For Franco, the Medellín-born prize-winning author of Maldito Amor, Mala Noche, and Rosario Tijeras, the underside of society is familiar ground. An integral member of the gritty realist literary movement known as "McOndo," he is one of a number of Colombian authors in their late 30's and early 40's whose work focuses on the country's problems with drugs, corruption and violence.

In Paradise Travel, Franco turns his lens from his own country outward to examine the life of an illegal Colombian immigrant in New York City. The narrative unfolds in two alternating time frames, shifting back and forth between lower-middle class Colombia and immigrant New York, a storytelling technique which is handled quite aptly by Franco.

As the story begins, Marlon Cruz, a teenager living with his parents in Medellín and trying to gain entry into the local university, is seduced by his obsessive girlfriend Reina into emigrating into the U.S. with her. When their request for the elusive visas is denied, Reina steals $10,000 from a relative and pays a conniving travel agent from the "Paradise Travel Agency" to arrange illegal passage through Mexico. Extorted and abused at each leg of their hellish journey up Central America and through Mexico, the pair finally arrive in New York without documentation or money. Then, their first night in Queens they accidentally become separated. Unable to find Reina, Marlon is left alone to cope with an unfamiliar, confusing and unforgiving land.

After suffering through a period of homelessness, Marlon eventually learns how to survive and fit into the growing Colombian community in Queens. Franco's exploration of the inequalities between the U.S. and South America, specifically Colombia, is quite vivid, as is his accurate and charming portrayal of expatriate Colombian life, especially in the scenes involving Roger Pena, a wanna-be dandy and professional shoplifter who only chooses to steal from Macy's and Bloomingdale's -- articles of clothing, mostly, that are later given to Marlon as gifts; Patricia, a strong-willed and compassionate restaurant owner who helps Marlon believe that he can survive in New York; and Caleña, a stripper/hooker Marlon first meets in Medellín through the Paradise Travel Agency and again later in New York who promises to help Marlon locate Reina and keeps her word.

The second time frame encompasses Marlon's narration during a bus trip from New York to Miami to see Reina whom he has located after a 15 month feverish search. During this bus trip, he remembers his now seemingly distant past life in Medellín, his initial infatuation and eventual love affair with Reina, and his subsequent struggles in Queens.

Marlon's journey through the underbelly of Queens and his transformation is revealing and his climatic reacquaintance with Reina is saddening. Franco's typical harsh realism is balanced by humor and a sharp but sensitive eye for the constantly shifting panorama of life in the U.S. and in Colombia. Cinematic and unforced, Franco's voice is wonderfully preserved in Katherine Silver's accomplished translation.

Paradise Travel is a fine urban novel which successfully informs the reader about what it is like to enter the U.S. illegally, not for the promise of elusive riches, but for the love of a woman. For Mr. Franco, it is an intriguing creative departure which explores the experience of love and loss as the core of what it is to be human.

::link source

Read More......

Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom

No Comment - Post a comment

Translated from the Dutch by Susan Massotty
(Grove Press, 2007)

Reviewed by Robert Buckeye

"The Darkness of the Lived Moment"

One does. She, someone, she is not sure, leaves her home in a wealthy neighborhood of Sao Paolo and drives, she does not know why, perhaps it had been the car or Bjork on the tape deck that had done the driving, to "the very worst favela of all, a hell rather than a paradise," where the engine dies and the favela dwellers come out of the night, "a hate and rage so deep that they could swallow you up forever" and leave her behind, "as if she were rubbish." "It had been like a black cloud," she tells police of her violation. Afterwards, she has to get away from the mystery of why she had gone into the favela and goes with her friend Almut to Australia, a secret talismanic site from their teenage years, to locate Aborigine Dreamtime, "the time before time and memory began," where she meets an Aborigine artist and stays with him for a week, "a man who has taken nothing of mine."

One doesn’t. He is middle-aged and out of sorts. Divorced, a literary critic increasingly disappointed and dyspeptic, out-of-touch with the new generation of writers, his girl friend, Anja, half his age, tells him. He no longer has a future, and the novel he writes he consigns to the trash can. "It was too late to learn Norwegian," he notes, "or emigrate to Australia." ("Too much past can kill you," Cees Nooteboom comments in All Soul’s Day.) His friends and Anja advise him to go to a spa in Austria—he will come out a new man they say— and force him out the door against his will. Once he arrives at the spa he questions his decision. At dinner the first evening—a potato with thick drops of linseed oil on it—he is reminded of "the cod liver oil he had been forced to swallow as a child."

One does. At the spa, the substitute masseuse is the woman he met as an angel in Perth, Australia, three years before. He had been at a literary conference—the usual kind—and out of boredom had gone on a tour whose aim it was to discover how many angels could be found in Perth. He tells her at the spa that he fell in love with her the moment he saw her in Australia, but after the tour at the angel party at a beach—"Tonight we’re being expelled from Paradise," she tells him—just as they are about to make love, police arrive and she flees because she has no work permit. He cannot find her and returns to a life he no longer wants. When he sees her at the Austrian spa, this time he does not want to lose her.

One doesn’t. She has found a lost paradise in the Aborigine’s world, but it is not hers. His painting will never be hers no matter how much she identifies with it; his silence returns her only to her own; his gestures may point but do not explain. Her black cloud can never be his nor his hers ("All past time is present time"). She must seek the Indian in herself, the shadow that her friend Almut sees in her, "as if you always have someone with you, and be "a wanderer, so I can make the world my desert" (as the limitless expanse of Australia is the Aborigine’s desert because it is his). She has put Brazil behind her for Australia, a gig as an angel instead of one in the fast lane of the affluent, trained as a masseuse, surfaced for the moment in Austria. At the spa, she reminds him of the last words she said on the beach in Australia before she fled from the police, "Angels and people aren’t meant to be together." "See you next time," she adds, reminding him (and us, perhaps her) that our efforts to regain paradise never cease.

The epigraph for Nooteboom’s novel, Lost Paradise (Grove Press, 2007), comes from Walter Benjamin’s meditation on Klee’s painting, Angelus Novus, whose angel faces the past and sees the catastrophe of events pile up into wreckage at his feet while a storm from Paradise rushes him towards a future he cannot see, since his back is turned, and thus he cannot warn anyone about what is coming. "This storm," Benjamin notes, "is what we call progress."

Since Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, the storm we call progress has been one train wreck after another. "What started out as a misunderstanding," the author (Nooteboom and not Nooteboom) says in an epilogue, "has gone on to repeat itself over and over into infinity." If Milton’s title refers to the Paradise that has been lost, Nooteboom’s calls attention to the one we seek.

"There are perhaps paths,"—it is Benjamin once again—"that lead us again and again to people who have one and the same function for us: passageways that always, in the most diverse periods of life, guide us to a friend, the betrayer, the beloved, the pupil, or the master." In Australia, she finds her teacher and he his angel, though they cannot stay with them. The only paradise we can have is the one we cannot regain, though we may find it at moments in the ineffable, the lost and forgotten, silence.

In a prologue, the author on a flight to Berlin-Templehof sees a woman look over a thin volume which nevertheless has numerous chapters and thinks the author "has taken considerable risks." When she holds the book up so that he can see the title, he realizes, "It’s this book," the one we have just read. In an epilogue, he sees the same woman on a train to Moscow still carrying, "the book I thought I had written, the book I still have not been able to shake off," and this time talks to her about it. A world where the prose is dense, demanding, the intellect rigorous, a challenge, the detail that of the polymath, the form answerable only to itself. The world of Nabokov, Gass, McElroy—"those cobwebs of yours"—Anja tells him no one reads any more. Today, she adds, "They're used to a fast pace."

Robert Buckeye has had two works of fiction published, Pressure Drop and The Munch Case and has written on film and art as well as literature.

::link source

Read More......

Search by category