Start with the Story, Not the Statistics. And, Be Truthful!

Interesting podcast interview with leadership coach Sabina Nawaz about storytelling able to make things “memorable.”
Nawaz aptly remarks that “A story can engage a thousand neurons” and can get us “at the emotional level”: That’s what creates “retention.”
So, let’s hope that creative writing people and storytellers out there (mostly struggling to make a living) have a new role to play in the future of corporate world executives.
The problem is: do “leaders” have a “true” story to tell? And are people smart enough to understand when something is “made up” in order to be liked, coat the pill or sell what one has to sell?
Now more than ever it’s fundamental to include in the picture, as Sabina does in the final part of her interview, the moral stance of “telling the truth,” even when this is just the one-sided, partial truth an individual can be accountable for.

The sad reality of paid book reviews and other author/reader incoveniences

“WOULD YOU LEAVE A REVIEW more often if you knew HOW HARD IT IS for authors to get reviews and how big of an impact that has on their survival?” author Mateja Klaric asked in her interesting survey on book reviews.

And did you know that AUTHORS/PUBLISHERS HAVE TO PAY to get a book review in KIRKUS, the most prestigious (and “most trusted,” according to their website) literary magazine?

As Kristen Houghton writes in the Huffington Post, “Now paying for reviews is a commonplace practice. ForeWord ($295), Kirkus (standard service $425, express service $575), and Publishers Weekly (various guidelines) offer programs where you ‘pay to play.’” IndieReader is far more reasonable at $225, Blue Ink: $325, San Francisco Book Review: $150, as Peter Derk reports in his article “Confession: I Paid For Book Reviews.”

Luckily, we have GOODREADS, which so far (and I emphasise this!) allows readers to publish their HONEST REVIEWS for FREE. On AMAZON you have to be a paying customer who has spent at least 50$ in the last year in order to leave your review (and, by the way, if an author wants to be reviewed on Amazon still has to pay one of Amazon’s “trusted” reviewers).

In any case, even on Goodreads now authors are at risk for severe “trolling” (most platforms do nothing to combat this).

This is the HARD REALITY of the book market today, “when almost every print newspaper in the country has done away with its book review section,” as Houghton reminds us. Or, perhaps, this is again another manifestation of our flawed humanity, whether it has to do with online/offline book marketing strategies or anything else.

Personally, I have made a point not to resort to paid reviews – mostly due to a lack of funds; (let’s face it: my independent publisher’s promotional budget as well as mine are severely tight). But also due to what is left of my sense of self-esteem and dignity: as an early 21st-century author, I guess I have already stretched enough those two values when, to use Peter Derk’s words, I experimented what it means to be “going from creator to carnival barker.”

So, as a writer (sometimes) and reader (mostly) I would encourage people not to be shy in leaving their HONEST (and NOT PAID FOR) REVIEWS on blogs, social media and Goodreads pages.


·      Mateja Klaric, “Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers?”

·      Kristen Houghton, “Book Reviews: Should You Pay for Them?”The Huffington Post

·      Peter Derk, “Confession: I Paid For Book Reviews,” Lit Reactor.

White suprematism in the US: A Comprehensive History

I have just added to my ever longer reading list the book by Gene Bétit “Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid — African American’s 400 Years in North America, 1619-2019.”

Collective Amnesia: American Apartheid is a comprehensive study of the treatment African Americans have encountered since their arrival in Virginia in 1619, a saga of racism and white supremacy. It is actual history, not the popular mythology about the Civil War and its aftermath taught in our schools. Numerous tables, photographs, maps, and charts make the study easy to read. The topic is extremely pertinent due to the four hundredth anniversary of African Americans’ presence in North America in 2019 and encouragement of racism from the White House.

Chapters cover white supremacy and racism, slavery, the service of US Colored Troops in the Civil War, devastation of the South, evolution of emancipation, and Reconstruction and the Freedman’s Bureau. Other chapters address “redemption” and the “lost cause,” Jim Crow, blacks’ significant military contributions in the two world wars, the Great Migration, the civil rights movement, and the backlash that continues today.

The book also addresses contemporary issues, including white supremacy, Confederate statuary, and evaluates the status of blacks compared to other groups in society. Note is taken of Professor James Whitman’s observation that Hitler admired Jim Crow and antimiscegenation laws, as well as Richard Rothstein’s study of federal and local housing law, documenting whites’ responsibility for creating inner-city ghettos.

Postcolonial Writing Revisited

“The Hubris of Public and Personal History in The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino” – A Review by Hollay Ghadery

“Zoe’s stagnancy is a fascinating reflection of the seeming impossibility of finding closure amidst the disparate beliefs and attitudes in post-colonial West Africa. It’s hard to forgive. It’s hard to forget. It can feel impossible to move forward,” writes Hollay Ghadery in her thoughtful and thought-provoking review of “The Afrikaner”, which she finds “as surprising as any contemporary post-colonial novel I could imagine.” You can read the whole review here:

The Afrikaner: Audiobook Project

With Los Angeles-based, South African-born actor Dennis Kleinman ( we have started working on an audiobook version of my novel “The Afrikaner”.

Obviously, we will need more funds to accomplish our task. I was thus thinking of initiating a crowdfunding campaign with Kickstarter or Go Fund Me.
Any suggestions re the best way to go about it?
You can listen to an excerpt from Chapter 1 read by Dennis here:

Reading Conrad in the Desert

“In the desert, in prison or out at sea, Conrad can be a good companion. I found in his pages a way to exorcise, at least in part, the darkest moments of my life” (The Afrikaner”). “There are several subplots that unfold over the 240 pages of Arianna Dagnino’s “The Afrikaner,” not the least of which is racism, and the scar it has left on white/black relationships after apartheid was abolished. Ms. Dagnino’s writing is authoritative and a pleasure to read. The pacing of the novel may be considered “slow” by some, but for me, this is modern literature at its best. As an aside, at one point in the story, Zoe [the main character, a female paleontologist] is gifted by Kurt [the troubled writer] a book to read in the desert: Conrad’s ‘The Secret Sharer,’ which blew me away because I was thinking at the time what a Conradian story ‘The Afrikaner’ is.” Read the whole interview of “The Afrikaner” by author James Fisher here:

Life, Possibilities, and the Kalahari’s Many Secrets in The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino

“The Afrikaner (Guernica Editions, 2019) is a powerful novel set in extraordinary locations in Africa, where we encounter some mysterious people […]”

Arianna Dagnino was born in Genova, Italy. After Moscow, London, and Boston, she worked in South Africa as a foreign correspondent. In Australia, she earned a PhD in sociology and comparative literature. She currently teaches at the University of British Columbia. Like many of her characters, she shares the nomadic experience.

You can read the rest of Joseph Pivato’s review of “The Afrikaner” in Accenti Magazine here:

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Interview in the “Vancouver Sun”: author “hopes to turn novel into a movie”!

Thanks to Dana Gee for the beautiful interview in the “Vancouver Sun” on my novel “The Afrikaner” and for getting the gist of it: “Arianna Dagnino hopes to turn novel into a movie”! :-)))

If you are interested in reading the full interview, you can find it at this link:

Tags: Canadian literature, Canadian writers, novel, novelist, Vancouver, South Africa, fiction writing, film, filmic transposition