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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Jordan Times weighs in on Thinner Than Skin

Merry Christmas, everybody. Happy birthday, Mr. Jinnah.

The latest rave review of the lovely and talented Uzma Aslam Khan's latest opus, Thinner Than Skin, comes courtesy of The Jordan Times. In a review written by the not-totally-Jordanian-sounding Sally Bland, the reviewer begins by saying:

"There are a few novels that sadden one when they end — not because of the ending itself but because of not wanting to let go of the characters whose life one has shared for a while. My first experience of this sort was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The most recent was Uzma Aslam Khan’s Thinner Than Skin."

Well now! That's some pretty rarefied company to be placed in, Garcia Marquez and all. And I must agree with the reviewer that this indeed the kind of book that leaves a little story-shaped hole in your soul when it's over... But that's a good thing, right?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Another great review for Thinner Than Skin...

...This one courtesy of India Today, a pretty major news weekly over there on the subcontinent. The writer of the review, one Bunny Suraiya, gushes more or less nonstop about the book, which is nice. A sample:

"Every once in a while, along comes a novel that one reads more for the quality of its prose than for its story line. Uzma Aslam Khan's Thinner than Skin is one such. It is clear from the get-go that the author is in love with words. Every emotion, every sight, every sound, every taste is mined over and over again for new analogies, fresh interpretations, in what one may well describe as a virtuoso performance-a master class in the art of creative writing."

Well, that's mighty cheery. There's much more, too, so take a look.

And in other news, hey, another nice review for An Age of Madness has appeared on! Thanks, folks, they're much appreciated...

Friday, December 21, 2012

First Amazon review for AoM

It's always nice to see reader reviews showing up on and elsewhere, but they've been slow in coming aof An Age of Madness. Happily, the first one showed up a couple of days ago, and it's brief but very nice. So thanks, Elizabeth Dickie, though we have never met. (Really.)

And hey! Anyone out there who has read the book and has happy thoughts about it should feel free to posty something. For bettre or for worse, we are organisms who are easily influenced by ithers of our kind, and a handful of people saying "Yo! This book is all right!" is likely to lead to mroe people reading it, and saying in turn "Yo! This book is all right!" which will lead to more people saying etc.

Sorry I have to shill like this but hey, it's the times and all.

In other news, Australia banned semi-automatic assault weapons following a public shooting in 1996, and guess what? There's hasn't been a shooting since. Damn Australians! Knuckling under to tyranny like that, throwing away their freedoms, offering an example of another way forward, and so on.

From the Wahington Post's Wonkblog:

' Back in 1996, Australia imposed a much stricter version of the assault weapons ban [than the US ban that expired in 2004] after a mass shooting. The Australian version avoided many of the loopholes in the U.S. law: Not only did the country ban all types of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns, but it also spent $500 million buying up nearly 600,000 existing guns from private owners.

As Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff pointed out, Australia’s law appears to have curbed gun violence. Researchers in the British Medical Journal write that the ban was “followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides.” '

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Too soon? Too bad.

Please read this essay by George Monbiot in The Guardian.

I continue to be wrenched by the killings on Connecticut. But I'm also wondering where all the memorial services, candlelight vigils and NFL memorials are for the kids we're murdering in Pakistan.

They have names, too. Not that you would know it, given the US government's policy of silence concerning civilian deaths from drone strikes:

'If the victims of Mr Obama's drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as "bug splats", "since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed". Or they are reduced to vegetation: justifying the drone war, Obama's counterterrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained that "you've got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back".'

Bug splats. Grass that needs to be chopped. Imagine if someone described the Newtown kids that way. Just fucking imagine.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I read the news today, oh boy.

My home state of Connecticut took a hit today. Say a prayer for the kids.

Monday, December 10, 2012

More love for Thinner Than Skin

Not surprisingly, the Man Asia Prize longlisting of Thinner Than Skin has led to some new attention on the book, including this nice review from a blog site called Eleutheropobia, which is setting out to review all 15 of the longlisted titles. The review begins thusly:

"Layered with prose every bit as lush and verdant as the glacial landscapes it describes, Uzma Aslam Khan's Thinner Than Skin is a thick, intense and richly rewarding novel set in the precipitous heart of Pakistan's semi-autonomous Northern Areas."

Well, that's certainly the truth! The review goes on to say many nice things, including that Thinner Than Skin is "a gorgeous book." Can't argue with that either, IMHO.

And by the way, "Eleutheropobia" is apparently a word that means "fear of freedom." Who knew?

ForeWord review in full for AoM

Here's a link to that Age of Madness review in ForeWard Reviews. It's a bit spoiler-y, so I hesitate to post it here, but what the hell it's already on the Internet so there's no stopping it now. If you plan to read the book but haven't yet, then maybe you should wait, but if you're curious, here you go.

You can get more info about the novel on Amazon's page.

Once again, thanks to the fine folks at ForeWord Review for their kind words about the book. I gather the magazine is aimed generally at librarians and other industry types, and I appreciate the openmindedness with which the writer of the review has approached the book. Cheers.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thinner Than Skin makes the Man Asia Prize longlist!

Canadian / Indian edition
Okay, this is a big, big deal.

Thinner Than Skin, the recent novel by the lovely and talented Uzma Aslam Khan, has been selected for the longlist for the 2012 Man Asia Prize. This prize is the Asian version of the better-know Man Booker Prize, which creates literary celebrities more or less overnight (Yann Martel won the Booker a few years ago for Life of Pi, and went from obscurity to superstardom). In 2006 or so, the people who run the Booker Prize decided to acknowledge the groundswell of literature coming out of Asia, both written in English and in translation, and set up a prize specifically for the region.

US edition
The longlist consists of 15 books, and can be seen here. Titles include some pretty big names, such as Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak, and some hot books from 2012, like Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis and Tan Twan Eng's The Garden of Evening Mists.

In any case, it's terrific that an indie author like Uzma, published by a small press like Interlink, is able to catch the attention of such a high-powered committee. It just goes to show the strength of the book. Comments from the Prize committee concerning Uzma's novel can be read here.

By the way, some of the online stores are claiming that the book will take weeks to ship, as they have run out of stock. Actually, the publishers are  rushing more copies as we speak, so and should have them much sooner than they currently claim. So don't be wary about ordering.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How was my UConn reading,? Just ask Zarrin.

I had a fine old time reading from An Age of Madness at the University of Connecticut's Co-op Bookstore yesterday afternoon; there were about 15 people in attendance, mainly UConn students, who were alert and attentive throughout the whole thing and asked a pile of great questions at the end. It was a good time and it's always heartening to see that there is still such interest in stuff like, y'know, books and storytelling and so forth even in this age of Xboxes and Twitter and American Idol.

But hey, don't take my word for it. The cheerful and enthusiastic Zarrin Ahmed is a UConn journalism student who was covering the event, who took a bunch of pictures of me while I was talking and who wrote a very flattering article for the student paper. She got some of the details wrong (I was 40 when I published my first book, not 30) but overall the paints a very nice picture. You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hey, thanks, WNBA!

The Women's National Book Association, who sponsored that reading even at the Strand Bookstore in NYC back in September, have pinned me as an author they love and An Age of Madness as a book they love. Cheers, folks. Check out their pinboard here to see other people who are well worth reading as well...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Great review from ForeWord Reviews

Hey folks, happy December. Hope you're enjoying the snow...

You know what I love about winter in New England? Flocks of Canada geese parked along the side of the road, taking a rest in fields before winging on their way. Just hanging out, catching their breath, getting ready to move on. I saw this on Thursday morning, driving home from work, and I saw a smaller group again today. It always cheers me.


Those fine, fine folks over at ForeWord Reviews--a magazine and web site, for those of you unfamiliar with it--have seen for to give an enthusiastic thumbs-up to An Age of Madness, for which I am grateful. Reviews have been slow this time around, but the ForeWord folks display their typical canniness and discrimination in their Winter 2013 issue when they say, among other things:

"The book's greatest strengths lie in solid character development, the skillful creation of a distinctive voice, and a deliberate approach to plot revelation that rivals the best books of the mystery genre."

Well, thanks! That all sounds great. There is much more too, but I don't want to quote anything at length as they review has not yet appeared online, nor has the Winter 2013 issue yet been released as far as I know.

If you're curious, check out the ForeWord web site--you're bound to come across some interesting books. They seem cast their reviewer's net a bit further than most, which is something I value these days.