IN RUMPUS BOOKS: My review of ALPHABET and PARADISE AND ELSEWHERE by Kathy Page

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Studies have shown that reading literary fiction increases a reader’s ability to empathize. In her first books to be published in the U.S., Giller Prize-nominated British author Kathy Page puts that theory to a rigorous test. Would you like to spend 300 pages in the mind of a murderer? How about fourteen stories replete with the vengeful whispers from those vanquished by the injustices of globalization? In both the novel Alphabet and the story collection Paradise and Elsewhere, Page demonstrates that she is a master provocateur, unafraid to ask unpleasant questions about contemporary society, even if she risks being didactic.

Read the rest of the review here.

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BARRIO BUSHIDO, by Benjamin Bac Sierra

I’ll be straight up. Ben is a friend of mine and he’s a true homeboy (if a non-homeboy can say as much). I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect that BARRIO BUSHIDO is the story of his life. A coming-of-age, darkly comic piece of novelistic street poetry, the novel is the story of three neighborhood friends, Lobo, Toro and Santo (the Wolf, the Bull, and the Saint) who follow their homeboy code of loyalty, violence and machismo into what amounts to a kamikaze mission. You’ll laugh, you’ll be moved, and you’ll realize that some Americans don’t dream at all.