BookLife Prize in Fiction
- by Frank Drury
Drury's fast-paced novel chronicles veteran Roy Calhoun's return home from the War in Afghanistan. The book's pacing is excellent, while the author's use of dialogue is effective and works to move the story forward. Each of the characters is well developed and has a distinct voice. However, the author frequently tells instead of shows and the book suffers from an overabundance of characters, which dilutes the story story and hinders reader engagement
- by Janie Watts
Taylor’s Crossing, Georgia, was – in 1959 – the picture of a small segregated Southern town. The only two black workers are Abednego, 19, and Lola, 17. They fall hard for each other and are planning a future together until hate and racism get in the way. This story, written from the heart, paints a vivid picture of lives changed by hatred, prejudice, and ignorance. The characters -- with the exception of a one-dimensional villain -- are compelling and believable, and they propel the reader through the tale.
- by Daniel Melnick
Armen emigrates to California after the 1915 Armenian genocide. He meets and marries Artemis and they raise two sons and a daughter. Family is the focal point of this tale of an Armenian experience that spans 1925 to 1972 in the U.S., a rich soup of custom, family, and community. This is a character-driven work and the writing effectively captures the nuances of a singular community. The novel would, however, benefit from some tightening, particular during expository passages.
- by Sophie Cook
Set mostly in what is now Hungary, this century-spanning account of friendship between two women and their families has a straightforward, authoritative voice, thanks to the author’s use of her own background and many graceful, modest turns of phrase. But ,while the reader learns much about both history and day-to-day life through several generations, the story rushes through many key events and missed opportunities; the uneven mix of POVs is unpredictable and the epistolary sections are too many and too expository. Still, the novel is a pleasurable read.
- by Michael Hurley
In Hurley's novel set in Charleston, self-loathing Fitz discovers a stowaway named Gemma on his sailboat -- and finds that his life will never be the same. The author's prose is solid and the story well paced, although Fitz’s conversations on big ideas – love, religion, abortion – can veer heavily toward the didactic. Still, Hurley keeps readers guessing: the book's plot twists are highly unpredictable and nothing ends up as one might predict. And while some plot elements don’t always hang together, the story is interesting and unusual -- and readers will keep turning pages.
- by Joan Destino
Destino's novel set in 1990s Las Vegas follows gambling addict Georgia Kassov Cates as she encounters various casino patrons -- all with ties to WWII -- during a black out. The book is well written and well plotted -- if at times confusing during time jumps. The voices the author creates are unique, allowing readers to invest in the characters. The vivid descriptions bring the settling alive and prove to be strongest element of the novel. Despite a little more telling than showing, readers will find this an enjoyable read.
- by L. Davis Munro
After several violent attacks attributed to the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), London's Metropolitan Police turns to its typing pool and recruits Emmy Nation to go undercover with the organization. While the unique concept and heroine are appealing, action seems glossed over in favor of scenes heavy with anachronistic dialogue, which neither moves the plot along nor illuminates character motivations.