Budding novelists ready to bloom

Rocky Mountain News, CO
Dec 7 2007

Budding novelists ready to bloom

By Patti Thorn, Rocky Mountain News

New novelists looking for attention might as well be asking for rain
in the midst of a drought. There are always far more titles than
spots available in the newspapers and magazines that might publicize

That, alas, leaves many great works withering on the vine.

So today, just call us the rainmaker, as we shower attention on some
of the best titles of 2007 you may have missed.

To bring you our annual great debuts issue, seven critics volunteered
to read first novels all year long by authors whose works weren’t
reviewed in the regular books pages. They screened more books than
ever before – nearly 100 titles (97 to be exact), stories of all
plots and prose styles.

Here, you’ll find 10 of their favorites. For 15 more, we urge you to
go to RockyMountainNews.com, where we hope some amazing new reading
relationships will bloom.

[parts omitted]

Skylark Farm

By Antonia Arslan (Knopf, 288 pages, $23.95)

* Author’s background: Arslan, who lives in Italy, has a degree in
archaeology, teaches at the University of Padua and has drawn on the
story of her own family for her novel.

* Plot in a nutshell: The human faces of genocide leap poignantly
from the pages of this gripping story as Arslan writes of Turkey’s
systematic attempt to exterminate all Armenians in 1915. The story
follows the gentle pharmacist Sempad, as well as his wife and
children, from the days of their placid life in an Armenian community
through the rumors and suspicions about political alliances to their
final days when all males were savagely butchered and females abused
and sent to desert exile.

* Sample of prose: "The night is over, and no trace of the men. None
of these families will see them again. Many years later, with the
Armenian passion and the world war both at an end, the fate of the
men will be discovered: forced in the night to leave the Walt
Warehouse, where they were killed one after the other in Falls
Valley, where their unburied corpses were left staring at the sky,
their eye sockets empty, naked and stripped of everything, even the
majesty of death."

* Author reminds me of: Micheline Marcom, whose Three Apples Fell
>From Heaven is another story of the Armenian tragedy told in similar
spare but evocative prose.

* Best reason to read: This soul-wrenching novel about man’s
inhumanity to man is all the more powerful because of Geoffrey
Brock’s sensitive translation of Arslan’s tightly controlled, vivid

For complete list of the books


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