Tag Archives: Johanna Skibsrud

Top 10 Authors on My Auto-Buy List

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Top 10 Authors on My Auto-Buy List


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

As readers we all have our personal preferences.

You read one book by one author that you’ve never had the privilege of reading before and you fall in love with his or her ability to write beautifully and still tell a compelling story. And then you dabble into another title work by the same author just to see if they can pull it off again—and much to your delighted surprise, they not only meet your expectations, but go beyond them—and that’s it, you’re hooked. You go, read, and purchase almost every title by the same author because he or she has gained your trust.

After your personal library is built on a steady foundation of authors you readily enjoy reading, you commit yourself as a starstruck admirer, a loyal reader and fan of that particular author’s works because in your mind, you’ve already been touched by the talent of this literary guru that speaks to you both in a personal and universal way.

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you have authors that you know won’t disappoint your literary taste buds? Authors that you’re willing to spend 85% of your book budget for? Authors you’re willing to stand in line for to meet, and greet, and possibly get an autograph or photo?

I have a few authors that I return to often in full trust of their literary giftedness and depth as storytellers. Others that I love for their fantastic imagination or wonderful art of honesty that reflects a true image of who we are, both in dialogue and compulsion. Others I love because their wit and take on the world simply makes me laugh from my gut.

Here are my top 10 authors on my auto-buy (and auto-love) list:


1. Margaret Atwood / Elizabeth Hay

Margaret Atwood

  Elizabeth Hay



2. Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden



3. Jhumpa Lahiri

jhumpa lahiri



4. Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini



5. Damon Galgut

damon galgut



6. Mark Strand

mark strand



7. Don Delillo

don delillo



8. Johanna Skibsrud

johanna skibsrud



9. G. Willow Wilson

g willow wilson



10. Barbara Gowdy

barbara gowdy


For those of you who may not be familiar with these authors, I highly recommend them. Pick up any one of their books and I can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Their writing is clean, clear, and exquisitely told. These are wonderful storytellers and poets capable of creating characters that will move you, stories that will compel you, expose controversies that will call you to action and rethink your presumptions, and ultimately showcase truths that reflect the deepest and sometimes simplest parts of the human condition.


Thanks to The Broke and the Bookish blog for hosting this popular, weekly meme.


Who of these writers are you familiar with?

Who of these writers have you not yet read, but would like to?

Who’s on your Top 10 Authors Auto-Buy List?


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Book Review: This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories by Joanna Skibsrud

Book Review:

This Will Be Difficult to Explain by Johanna Skibsrud


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


Category: Fiction

Author: Johanna Skibsrud

Format: Hardcover, 170 pages

Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

ISBN: 978-067-0066-308

Pub Date: September 20, 2011



The title of Johanna Skibsrud’s collection of stories is how I felt in describing it for this review. She’s that good of a writer. You can’t just slap on a few pretty adjectives, assess the narrative, the characters, the plot, and be done with it. Which is probably why I’ve delayed writing anything down about the book even though I finished it days ago. You need to take a step back. A big step.

Because what you think her story may be about will make you do a 360-degree turn for being as confident and obnoxious a reader you may usually be with other books. This was obviously my error in reading her work. Though I was reminded and readily affirmed that yes, Ms. Skibsrud, did win The Giller Prize in 2010 for her first unknown novel, The Sentimentalists. The Giller Effect obviously did not hurt the author’s writing, nor did it leave her paralyzed by pressure in writing another good book.

Don’t be misled by the value of the short story. Most people under-value its worth simply because it’s short , rather than a 400-page novel. It would be wrong to do so. In many ways, a short story is more difficult to write, what with its word count restriction. The writer must be able to say something of significance in so little space. And Johanna Skibsrud does this.

Her stories are subtle and multi-layered and motivated by elusive characters who are flawed, thoughtful, and deeply affected by their circumstances. You may ask, “Well, aren’t all characters like that?”

Not really. Because these characters are unaware of it almost as much as the readers are. Stories will leave the reader questioning what really happened and what is the true meaning of what just occurred because once the story ends, what remains is merely a sense, a feeling.

This uncertainty allows for possibility, which also leaves characters open to some form of salvation or hope. Or not. Either way, the narrative becomes an intimate window in the character’s life. A moment, really, in a string of moments that are written in a clear and real way that the reader has no choice, but to empathize, appreciate, and care for the characters’ world.

Johanna Skribsrud is able to write her characters’ dialogue and thought process in such a way that makes them not only believable, but honest and true. But written with such inexplicable giftedness that the author’s writing prowess is not only creative, fresh, and new, but powerful enough that any writer (or reader) can only wish he or she had thought of it first. Or in my case, “How did she do that?”

This book of nine stories is written by a new author, but a mature one. She is subtle, but assured, and her craft is perfect.


Zara’s Rating


What’s your favourite short story?

Who’s your favourite short story writer?