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The Limitless Reach of Fiction: "Guernica" in Brazil

I can't guess how many thousands of readers I've met over the years, and I'm always appreciative of their gracious response. But I'm not sure I've ever been brought to tears by their comments.


The setup: I was very gratified when a terrific high school teacher in Brazil invited me to take part in their book fair via Skype. Her class had read my first novel "Guernica," which I heard had been successful in Brazil. For the fair, they constructed an entire room of posters and dioramas to illustrate the story. Thursday, over the computer, I answered amazing questions from a room filled with bright and remarkably engaged students. I was so impressed by their insights.


At the end, Priscila, the teacher, introduced me to Sara, one of her students who was a refugee from war-torn Syria. In exceptional English, Sara told me what the book meant to her, especially as it reflected her experiences in Syria. Her words took my breath away. As she got more emotional, I wanted to somehow teleport to Brazil to give her hugs. Instead, all I kept saying was "Ohhhh."


I hope I could become a talented enough writer to create characters who have met their challenges with the grace and strength of Sara. I hope some day she becomes an author and tells her own story!

Big hugs, to you, Sara.


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"The Local" lists "Guernica" as one of the 14 best novels on the subject of the Spanish Civil War

Apologies for the authorial self-indulgence, but when European digital product, The Local, lists my novel "Guernica" among the 14 best on the Spanish Civil War (alongside Hemingway and Orwell), it's something worth posting.

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The Lost History of Stars among anticipated 2017 historical fiction

Nice mention of The Lost History of Stars in this book blog about 2017 historical fiction releases. (please cut and paste link)

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The Best Book Club in the Northwest

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The self-proclaimed (but entirely deserving) The Best Book Club in the Northwest drove through 405 traffic to host a book discussion in my neighborhood -- and then supped at Anthony's. (You don't get to be The Best Book Club in the Northwest without some effort!) It is with great pride I point out that all the men attended as well -- not just to talk Seahawks. They all read the book. Literacy lives! Read More 
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Publication date set for The Lost History of Stars

The folks at Algonquin Publishing tell me that The Lost History of Stars will be published in the U.S. on June 6, 2017. It's been a long wait since we agreed to join forces in the summer of 2013, but in the interim, we've tinkered a bit with tightening and moving a few things around from the book that appeared in the U.K. and Commonwealth as The Undesirables.

I like the new title and am eager to see the new jacket. Editor Chuck Adams and the Algonquin marketing crew are famed in the business and I'm excited and fortunate to be dealing with them.

Here's an early reference: http://workman.com/products/9781616204174/

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The Literary Ya-Yas of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Skype has been a terrific way to talk to book groups around the world. This visit (pictured) was with the delightful Literary Ya-Yas of St. Petersburg, Fla. Organizer Shelley Manes first emailed me ready to curse me out for getting her so attached to the characters in "Guernica" only to have to suffer their loss during the tragic bombing. I offered to Skype-visit with her book club during its meeting. They set up the computer and we had a great visit. Shelley forgave me, incidentally, and came away loving the book. In all, a very fun group! I have done a couple in England, with "The Undesirables," too.

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The Undesirables paperback

Here's the cover for Picador's upcoming paperback release of The Undesirables.
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The Undesirables

When I started researching the second Anglo-Boer War for a project that would turn into the novel THE UNDESIRABLES, I almost immediately came across a picture that convinced me it was a topic worth examining. It was a haunting image of an emaciated young girl, Lizzie van Zyl, near death in a British concentration camp.

I thought I had a fair knowledge of world history, but it came as a surprise that the British were the first to engage in the widespread use of concentration camps during the Boer War -- not the Nazis during the Holocaust some four decades later.

During the latter stages of this war, which set South Africa aflame, the British burned some 30,000 Boer farm homes and interned untold thousands of civilians --Boer and native -- mostly women and children. The reported death toll in these poorly administered camps was nearly 30,000, victims of disease and malnutrition. That total was far greater than the combined casualties of the actual combatants on both sides during the entirety of the war.

Lizzie van Zyl.
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Great visit to the New York Public Library

I was in New York City to cover the Super Bowl, but I got a little time to visit the NYC Public Library. The place is a monument to word and thought.

A couple statues out front feature the words of Whittier ("Beauty old yet ever new, eternal voice and inward word" ) and Plato But above all things truth beareth away the victory").

Inside, Milton's thoughts on the value of books ("A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.") enlighten those who enter the portal to at the Rose Main Reading Room.

The Reading Room (pictured) is a spectacular place to work. Not quite as good as the reading room at the British Museum (although, last time I was there, it was closed). It featured a Gutenberg bible ca. 1455

An unexpected highlight was an exhibit on the history of children's books. One was the book that Lewis Carroll gave to little Alice Littell, the girl who was his inspiration for Alice.

Another was a display of the original stuffed animals of Christopher Milne, which A.A. Milne used as inspiration for Winnie The Pooh. Read More 
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New "The Undesirables"

Always fun to get new books. Thanks, Picador, beautiful jacket for The Undesirables!
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