Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mojito's Top Picks for 2011: Laura's Favorites

As with all year-end recaps, The Mojito Literary Society will reflect upon some of the best of 2011.

Here are Laura Valeri's picks of the best novels this year (stay tuned for a post on story collections):

The Family Fang: by Kevin Wilson

A quirky tale of a family of performing artists, each of them having managed to blur the boundaries of what is appropriate and what is necessary in the name of art. The story will make you laugh, balk, ponder, meditate, and even maybe weep a little. If only for the fantastical performances that the Fang family manages to contrive, the book should get an award.

Faith: by Jennifer Haigh

The story of a woman who tries to trace back the choices and mistakes that led to her brother's suicide. On the surface, the novel appears to be about the abuses of the Catholic church and its coverups of sexual molestation cases, but as the story deepens, the reader is treated to a delicate, heartbreaking story about love, self-sacrifice, and most of all, faith. One of the most profound and uplifting books I've read all year!

Animal Sanctuary; by Sarah Falkner

Check out the extensive review I wrote for this one on Fiction Writers' Review. Sarah Falkner's debut is a journey into the aesthetic complexities of film and performance art. The novel is written as a braided narrative, combining article clippings, film synopses, audio transcripts and other less-conventional mediums. You'll feel like you've just gotten a crash education in art criticism when you're done reading.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Animal Sanctuary: The Hardships of Art in the Novel

Sarah Falkner's debut novel Animal Sanctuary is the winner of the 7th Starcherone annual prize for innovative fiction. The novel is a complex rendering of the small injustices, abuses and incongruities that keep the art world going. It's a sad chronicle of the sacrifices artists will make to honor their art, and it's a study of the beauty and savage nature of art, and its ability to both maul and give new life to those who dedicate their lives to it.

It was tough to review the book because so much about it is different, and so much of it is also familiar. But Animal Sanctuary is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of the future of innovative fiction. Written in the form of a braided narrative, Falkner uses film synopses, audio transcripts, letters, emails and other narrative mediums that are seldom found in traditional fiction to piece together the adventures of Kitty and Rory Dawson, a film starlet and her son who, together, focus their art on the neglect and abuse of savage nature.

Check out my full review on Fiction Writers' Review, or else check out the book. Enjoy!