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Life is tough. What a shitty cliche to think about when it comes to someone who has actually lived a difficult life. Our protagonist has suffered at the hands of all life can possibly throw at you: from being abandoned by her father to being abused by her uncle, it is nearly too much. Eimear McBride’s debut novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is as shattering as it is insightful. It is intense and sensitive. She brings this intensity to DC this Friday. To ready yourself for this peek into the world of a truly moving book we asked Eimear for some of her favorite reads.

Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson

Written in an unforgiving, almost hallucinatory prose, the story follows a young American runaway through a series of bleak under and overworlds. By avoiding any temptation to literalize or relent into easy judgment Jackson captures both the rush and extreme vulnerability of dispossessed, disregarded youth. Beautiful and horrible, it’s one of the few books to have given me actual nightmares and has stayed with me long after I turned the last page.

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From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjon

Built around the life of seventeenth century ‘man of science’ Jonas Palmason who has been exiled within his own country on charges on sorcery, the story – while ostensibly tracing his rise and fall from grace along with the impact of both on his life and the life of his family – is a deeply moving meditation on the nature of humanity and the quest for enlightenment.

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Indonesia, Etc: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth PisaniHaving only very recently and very briefly visited Indonesia this book offered both extraordinary pleasure and incredible insight into a beautiful, tumultuous and fascinating country. Whether or not you have been there or ever plan to go, Pisani’s wonderfully engaging exploration of the political, historical, cultural and religious complexities of the world’s fourth most populous nation is a great read.

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Eimear McBride will be reading from A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing at Rí Rá Georgetown Friday October 27th at 7pm.