Quick update about one of the 30 Women Novelists You Should Know

The Enchanted, the fabulous novel by Rene Denfeld, just won an esteemed Notable Book award from the American Library Association. Here’s how they described the book: “Death row inmates await escape through execution in this weirdly gorgeous tale.”

“Weirdly gorgeous” is exactly right. Congratulations to Rene Denfeld and the other writers whose books were honored.

Want a free copy of The Enchanted? Sign up for my newsletter and a chance to win one.

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2015 – The year of free books

I’m excited that over the coming year I’ll be blogging about several newly published books. Most will be released for the first time in 2015; some are paperback editions of books that were published to great acclaim in 2014. And do I need to mention that all of the books will be by women authors?

Even better, I’ll be giving away copies of these exciting books to a few lucky people who subscribe to my free emailed newsletter, Being Bookish.

Do you really need something new in your inbox? Maybe.

If you are truly bookish, come on and sign up for the monthly newsletter, which offers book talk, links to readerly resources you may not have discovered yet, and general nerdiness about all things literary.

And of course, let’s not forget the inducement of free books. Subscribers will get the chance to snag free copies of newly published (or soon-to-be-published) books.

The Enchanted – in paperback February 2015

In February, for example, I’ll be giving away the new paperback edition of The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld.

Rene Denfeld was #8 on my list of 30 Women Novelists You Should Know. But I wasn’t the only one to rave about The Enchanted. It was one of the most acclaimed and talked about books of 2014.

Enchanted UK

Reviewers loved it. The novel was named among the top 10 in 2014 by diverse sources that ranged from Library Journal to Goodreads to Powell’s independent bookstore in Oregon to the Foyle’s chain of bookstores in the U.K.

At left is the cool new cover of the paperback version in the UK. The US version is below.

Rene_Denfeld_Red carpet

Rene D. on the red carpet.


The book was translated into several languages, nominated for numerous literary prizes, and won the prestigious French award, the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger.

If you haven’t yet read The Enchanted, you’re in for a mesmerizing literary experience. Take a look at this December 2014 interview with Rene Denfeld by the writer Elissa Wald if you want to whet your appetite for the novel.

Who doesn’t love free books?

To sign up for my monthly newsletter and be eligible for the book giveaways, click here.  Because who doesn’t love free books?

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30 Women Novelists You Should Know – #8 Rene Denfeld

There are many more than 30 wonderful women novelists you should know. But there are only 36 days left until my novel, Her Own Vietnam, is released. So I’m using this time to talk about women storytellers, both new (to me) and vintage.

Having a Rene Denfeld moment

There was a time, not all that long ago, when I had never heard of Lana del Ray. Then suddenly her name and her music were everywhere: on the radio, on TV, playing in friends’ cars, showing up on Facebook.

I’m having that kind of a moment with Rene Denfeld. First I started seeing rapturous reviews for her novel, The Enchanted. Later I came across this powerful article by Denfeld.

Beautiful, strange and stirring

One night I started to read her novel. The next morning a comment from her appeared in my Facebook feed. (Apparently we have friends in common.)

If you’ve read the beautiful, strange and stirring novel The Enchanted, you will understand how disconcerting it was to have the creator of that hallucinatory universe pop up on Facebook.

The Enchanted takes place largely in an old stone prison, inside a basement dungeon that serves as the prison’s death row. The narrator, Arden, is waiting his turn to die for a crime so horrific he will not describe it.

Even The Lady, the intrepid death row investigator who is the novel’s main character, walks a little faster when she passes his cell. Her job is to find evidence that will get a prisoner’s death sentence commuted to life in prison. But her current client, a murderer named York, is different from all the rest. He wants to die.

Not the standard ingredients

An unnamed investigator with her own troubled past, a fallen priest, a heartbroken warden, a clutch of death row inmates, and a narrator who is a condemned murderer and is certainly twisted if not mad – these are not the usual ingredients for a thing of beauty. And yet the novel is beautiful. Open the book anywhere at random, and you’ll find an idea, a description, a piece of dialogue that is fresh and lovely.

The Enchanted is not one of those novels where you turn the last page and lament the need to leave the world it created. You rejoice at your freedom to leave that “enchanted place.” But you have learned to see that world in an entirely new way.

Rene Denfeld

Rene Denfeld