One of the things any author looks forward to, besides their New York Times Bestseller debut, is a review from Publishers Weekly. A well-respected periodical that reports on everything happening in the industry, a good PW review is a solid sign that your book is going to be received positively by the critical community. It’s also good advertising of a sort, because bookstore buyers pay attention to what receives favorable attention in the magazine and sometimes order accordingly.
Seeing as how that’s the case, I’m very pleased to say that The Dead Women of Juárez has received a coveted good review from PW. You can click through and read it or you can just keep on going, as I’m going to reproduce it in its entirety in three, two, one….
Hawken’s debut novel ambitiously confronts a real-life scandal, the many, mostly unsolved murders of women in Ciudad Juárez since the early 1990s, previously tackled by Roberto Bolaño’s sprawling 2666. The two heroes, down-and-out American boxer Kelly Courter and Mexican police detective Rafael Sevilla, dig into the drug-related violence in the Mexican border city, crimes that in recent years have overshadowed the so-called feminicidios. On occasion, Rafael presses Kelly, who just wants to eke out a humble existence in Ciudad Juárez, about his friend Estéban, a smalltime drug dealer. Worse trouble lies ahead because of the role of Paloma, Kelly’s girlfriend and Estéban’s sister, in the victim-advocacy group Mujeres Sin Voces. After a low-key opening section that sketches Ciudad Juárez’s bleak industrial landscape, the book roars into gear as a bluntly forceful hard-boiled thriller that also manages to address, movingly and respectfully, its troubling subject matter.
It seems like wherever I go, my book gets compared to 2666, which doesn’t thrill me, mostly because Bolaño’s novel is way, way different from my own. Bolaño was a literary writer with a capital “L,” and as I have discussed here before, I am not. On the plus side, the reviewer did not say 2666 is a more worthwhile read than mine, like the one in Der Spiegel did, and I’m grateful for that.
We only have three more months until September and the release of The Dead Women in the United States and I’m feeling optimistic. I had some rough treatment, critically, in Germany but Amazon reviews (always a solid indicator of where the readership stands) are holding at an average of four stars out of five, so that’s good. I’m hoping American readers, who have had the opportunity to read the book in ebook form for over a year, will follow the path laid down by the British and the Germans before them and receive The Dead Women with open arms.
Of course work and life go on, and there’s more to look forward to in the months ahead, including the imminent release of Tequila Sunset. I’d say things are going quite smoothly for me, with manuscripts under consideration at great publishers and Serpent’s Tail doing a full-court press for my releases. I haven’t heard exactly what the publicists’ plans are for The Dead Women later this year, but I’m sure it’ll be fun and exciting.
Anyway, thanks very much to PW for the positive notice. It is much appreciated.