Along with being named a finalist for the 2010 Los Angeles Times book prize in the first-fiction category, her first book, Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry won AWP's 2009 Grace Paley Prize, was awarded Ploughshares' John C. Zacharis prize, and was chosen as Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association in the traditionally published fiction category. Portraits was also longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story prize and was named one of the seven best books of the year by Time Out Chicago. Sneed's second book, the novel Little Known Facts, won the Society of Midland Authors Award for best adult fiction 2013, was named one of Booklist's top ten debut novels of 2013, and best new book by a local author by Chicago Magazine.
Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Sneed's reply:
I just finished Andre Dubus III’s soulful, beautifully written memoir Townie. Corny as this will probably sound, I can’t see myself ever forgetting this book. Dubus’s rendering of his and his three siblings’ upbringing in tough, economically declining mill towns outside of Boston is searing, sometimes tragic, but most of all, a remarkable testament to Dubus’s (and by extension, his siblings’) ability to transcend a childhood and adolescence marked at times by serious hardship. He examines with arresting insight a number of dualities, in particular, his predilection toward physical violence even as he began to realize that the world is in desperate need of more kindness and mindfulness. In this amazing book, Dubus III is viewing the first four decades of his life through the prism of mature adulthood, and with the seasoned artistry of a brilliant writer.Visit Christine Sneed's website.
And two other books that I read not long ago and really admired: Mark Wisniewski’s novel Watch Me Go – this man couldn’t write a dull sentence if he tried. I first read his work in The Best American Short Stories 2008, and loved “Straightaway,” the story that year’s editor, Salman Rushdie, chose to include in it. Wisniewski’s new novel, coincidentally, grew out of this BASS story. Watch Me Go is literary thriller that deftly takes on the themes of race, identity, love, and socioeconomic disparities in America. There’s also quite a bit of horseracing. Wisniewski has a number of other books all worth reading, among them the short story collection, All Weekend with the Lights On.
Anne Calcagno’s novel Love Like a Dog was such a pleasure to read too. Calcagno is a fine, generous writer and storyteller. This novel, set in contemporary Chicago, concerns a boy and his father, and a dog they rescue, along with the tension the father’s criminal activity causes in their lives. It’s coming-of-age story that bears similarities, now that I think of it, to the other two books I’ve included in this post. I’m also looking forward to reading Calcagno’s first book, a story collection, Pray for Yourself, soon.