Belletrista Blog


Being a part of Belletrista has introduced me to so many new books and authors whose work I am eager to read more of.

I’ve been slowly working my way through Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s short story collection There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby, which Tim Jones reviewed for Issue 8. My favorite pieces so far have been “Hygeine,” a dystopian and utterly macabre tale about a family desperate to escape from an unidentified pandemic, and the aptly named “Revenge,” which is probably the story from which the collection takes it name.  I confess that I bought this book before Tim reviewed it, thinking it was traditional Russian fairy tales with a nasty twist (ala the original, non-Disneyfied Grimm stories perhaps).  So far I’ve been wrong but I haven’t been disappointed in the least.

Other discoveries this year (which I admit I haven’t yet had time to actually read!):  Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, which Rachel Hayes reviewed for Issue 3; The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, which Barbara Steeg reviewed also in Issue 3; and Rien Ne Va Plus, which Akeela Gaibie-Dawood reviewed in Issue 4.

How about our readers?  Looking back on Belle in 2010, what have been your favorite discoveries through this site?  What books did we feature that you are most looking forward to reading?

On the anniversary of Belletrista, I looked back over the eight books that I wrote reviews on . . . Brixton Beach (Roma Tearne), Family Album (Claribel Alegria), Ines of My Soul (Isabel Allende), Horse, Flower, Bird (Kate Bernheimer), Song Over Quiet Lake (Sarah Felix Burns), The Disappeared (Kim Echlin), Salvation City (Sigrid Nunez), and For Grace Received (Valeria Parrella).

All such very different books–how do I pick a favourite? Horse, Flower, Bird stands out as the one that wowed me the most. I had so much fun reading it, and even more fun writing about it. But it’s an odd little book, and not really one that you can get lost in  on a rainy autumn evening when you’re cuddled up on your sofa, or when you need entertainment during a long flight. For that reading need, my favourite would be Brixton Beach.  Roma Tearne’s writing is so beautiful, and she completely sweeps me away to the beaches of Sri Lanka (my favourite literary destination). I also loved Valeria Parrella’s gritty, real Italy in For Grace Received. But really, each of these books was great in its own way and I enjoyed something about each one.

Interestingly, three of the books were short story collections–Family Album; Horse, Flower, Bird; and For Grace Received. I also just finished a fourth short story collection for a future issue of Belletrista–Garden in the Wind, by Gabrielle Roy. I find this interesting because I go years between reading short story collections. I’m finding that I actually like them more than I thought I did. But that’s what I love about reading–always learning something new, either about the world or about myself.