RaveBooklistArt historian Nemerov chose not to write a full biography of abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler, a student of his father’s at Bennington College, but rather to follow her footsteps as she created her uniquely fluid, liberated, personal, and animated visual language and techniques and attained prominence in her twenties ... Pairing vivid anecdotal biography with energetic descriptive analysis, the author recalibrates our perception of Frankenthaler’s undulating and entrancing canvases, on which she channeled in-the-moment feelings and celebrated the \'beauty and power and glory\' of life. With reverence and irreverent wit, nimble narration, pertinent art history, and a vibrant cast of characters, Nemerov chronicles the first round in Frankenthaler’s extraordinary artistic adventure.
RaveBooklistHeinecke, previously an author of science books for kids, draws on her art and science degrees in this vividly elucidating and enthralling double portrait which reads like a biographical novel rather than a dual biography as she boldly imagines the thoughts and feelings of her two magnetic subjects and invents dialogue. Some readers may object to these creative-nonfiction techniques, but extensive bibliographic notes attest to the factual foundation supporting this irresistible, dramatic, many-faceted, and, yes, illuminating tale of two extraordinary geniuses and their friendship. Heinecke’s fresh take on Curie is welcome, and her portrayal of the too-little-known Fuller is revelatory.
RaveBooklistMatteson immerses readers ... Equally compelling is Matteson’s tracking of difficult family relationships, literary breakthroughs, and how Holmes’ war experiences influenced his thinking as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Here, too, are dramatic scenes of Abraham Lincoln’s political and moral quandaries—the book’s title is his phrase—in the aftermath of the horrific Battle of Fredericksburg, a touchstone for the exceptional and influential individuals Matteson incisively portrays in this masterful and distinctive inquiry.
RaveBooklistIn Hewitt’s third commanding biography of an overlooked French woman...she nearly purrs as she recounts with enriching detail and narrative drive Bonheur’s absolute dedication to her work and her independence, vividly establishing the tumultuous social and political contexts in which Bonheur overcame entrenched misogyny and negative views of lesbianism ... Hewitt’s rousing biography will propel a resurgence of appreciation for Bonheur and her achievements.
RaveBooklistWith the encouragement of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall, and other wildlife activists, screenwriter Staples wrote this first novel to reveal the gruesome truths about the trafficking of endangered animals for allegedly medicinal and certainly decadent purposes, a little-known yet catastrophic realm of organized crime. Staples’ gutsy in-the-field research shapes this webby ecothriller and its intriguing characters gone rogue in pursuit of justice ... With hard-edge cinematic action and psychological depth, Staples dramatizes with jolting specificity horrific crimes against wondrous, precious animals as cartels and their craven customers \'cash in on the end of the wild\' and threaten the \'death of life itself.\' Staples’ gripping and awakening tale should have a resounding impact.
RaveBooklistScience writer extraordinaire Kolbert reports on man-made natural disasters and less-than-reassuring attempts and plans to ameliorate them. Writing with trenchant wit and stinging matter-of-factness, Kolbert observes \'how much easier it is to ruin an ecosystem than to run one.\' ... A master elucidator, Kolbert is gratifyingly direct as she assesses our predicament between a rock and a hard place, creating a clarion and invaluable \'book about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems.\'
RaveBooklistDaring and imaginative Romano-Lax...puts another provocative spin on historical fiction ... [a] highly original time-warping tale ... As she illuminates Oakley’s extraordinary life, Romano-Lax conjures supernatural dimensions in pursuit of psychological revelations, grapples with the sexual predation of \'wolves\' and the muzzle of shame, and dramatizes the slipperiness of memory and history, creating a compassionate, heady, and witty whirl of fact and insight, mesmerizing characters and suspenseful predicaments.
RaveBooklistIntently observant, acidly funny, stoic, and smart, Eulabee is an incandescent creation, and Vida, whose polished and incisive prose is in the Didion mode, inflects this droll and sensitive coming-of-age tale, a cool match for Claire Messud’s The Burning Girl , with eviscerating social commentary. A nimble and arresting drama about the spell cast by beauty, the compulsion to lie, the valor of forthrightness, and the inevitability of the inexplicable.
RaveBooklistProfoundly imaginative and thrillingly virtuosic, Lee...has created an audaciously satiric, harrowing, witty, and tender variation on the archetypal hero’s journey and a fathoms-deep exploration of self, family, culture, and power ... Lee is supreme, and this high-velocity, shocking, and wise novel, avidly promoted, is emitting an irresistible magnetic force.
PositiveBooklist... [Howland\'s] first book resurfaces with all its epigrammatic, disconcerting, and incandescent firepower intact ...[a] clinically observed yet compassionate, drolly and bravely matter-of-fact memoir ... The descriptions are breathtaking ... And how crisply she charts the desperate dramas, penetrating strangeness, mordant humor, and transcendent alliances. Among the many chronicles of depression and psych wards, Howland’s is uniquely arresting in its omniscient attention, radiant artistry, zealously pursued insights, and abiding respect for those who share her struggle.
RaveBooklistDidion in an essence, elegantly dismantling assumptions and stating discomfiting truths. In Why I Write, another of the dozen arresting, mind-tuning, previously uncollected essays in this exhilarating and instructive gathering spanning several decades, she states that writing is \'an aggressive, even a hostile act.\' It is also a voyage of discovery for Didion, conducted via meticulous observation and assiduous questioning of what she thinks and how her investigations make her feel ... an illuminating and inspiring addition to the influential Didion canon.
RaveBooklistAdmirers of Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) and Saunders’ equally imaginative short story collections will discover the full scope of his passion for and knowledge of literature in his deeply inquisitive, candid, funny, and philosophical analysis of seven stories, each included here, by his Russian mentors ... An invaluable and uniquely pleasurable master course and a generous celebration of reading, writing, and all the ways literature enriches our lives.
RaveBooklist... [Franzen\'s] signature qualities converge in a new, commanding fluidity, from his inquiry into damaged families to his awed respect for nature, brainy drollery, and precise, resonant detail ... [a] masterfully plotted tale populated by exceptionally complex characters caught in an ever-expanding web of startling connections and consequences ... Franzen has created a spectacularly engrossing and provocative twenty-first-century improvisation on Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, Great Expectations.
RaveBooklistThis gripping episodic memoir of ranch life and Arctic travels, visionaries and lovers, environmental destruction and loss is a callback, after a dozen titles, to her first book, The Solace of Open Spaces ... Ehrlich chronicles with enthralling precision the to-the-brink physicality of hard work and daring expeditions and the meditative states nature summons. She vividly recounts sojourns on a Channel Island off the California coast ... Writing with fire and ice of beauty, risk, and devastation, Ehrlich shares wonder, wisdom, candor, and concern to soul-ringing effect.
RaveBooklista defining, glorious, and invaluable anthology of African American poetry that reaches back to 1770 and concludes with today’s artistic flourishing in sync with Black Lives Matter. Vitality, beauty, anger, sorrow, humor, and hope all find original, resonant, and consummate expression throughout this expert gathering of works by both celebrated poets and many who will be new to readers, especially women and LGBTQ poets from earlier eras, and all 250 poets are succinctly profiled. Young provides a historical and literary framework in eight chronological sections, each discussed in substantial and enlightening detail in his elegantly composed and dynamic introduction.
RaveBooklistHow boy, horse, dog, ducks, raven, and rat join forces and bring wonder and joy to lonely humans makes for a tenderly clever, charming, and spirit-nourishing tale of freedom and responsibility, acceptance and friendship, generosity and love ... Readers will flock to the first adult novel from Smiley in five years, especially since this smart and enchanting tale is a guaranteed antidote to stress.
PositiveBooklist... dynamically curated ... spectacularly varied and powerful works ... Expected writers are matched by those who will be new to reader ... With reflection, dissent, wit, poignancy, and finesse at every turn, this vibrant and illuminating pairing of social and literary histories is a vital resource. In two forthcoming volumes, Lopate will deepen coverage of the postwar era and the twenty-first century.
RaveBooklistSpiked with surprising juxtapositions and wily delight in language, at times mordant, frequently hilarious, and always unflinching, Atwood’s poems are rooted in nature, with spotlights on spiders, cicadas, and slug sex.
RaveBooklistFiction virtuoso Baxter’s artistry and merciless insights are in full, intoxicating flower in this sinuous, dark, and dramatic tale ... As abrupt mental shifts strike like lightning, pitching Baxter’s intricately portrayed characters dangerously off course, the country convulses under the authoritarian rule of an unhinged president. Baxter has brilliantly choreographed a wholly unnerving plunge into alarming aberrations private and public, festering political catastrophe, and woefully warped love.
Samira Leakey, with Meave Leakey
RaveBooklist... an exciting and richly informative scientist’s autobiography, covering personal matters briskly, no matter how dramatic, and passionately sharing her driving fascination with our hominin ancestors and their environments. Chronicling with vivid detail the diligence and fortitude fieldwork demands, the exhilaration of major finds, and the controversies these discoveries engendered, Meave elucidates how fossils inform her compelling theories about our ancestors’ ability to outrun prey (thanks to sweat glands), making \'persistence hunting\' possible; hominin social bonding and caregiving; and the crucial family role filled by older females. Ultimately, this major work of scientific dedication and original insight illuminates both our distant past and our current, serious, human-caused planetary challenges.
RaveBooklistGefter’s expert, comprehensive, and sensitive biography embodies the electricity and complexity of Avedon’s work as he centers Avedon within the crossfire of both the battle to legitimize photography as a fine art form and the struggle for gay rights. Gefter’s engrossing portrait of a master portraitist vividly proves his claim that Avedon is “one of the most consequential artists of the twentieth century.”
RaveBooklist\"A much-honored master renowned for his prescience and attunement to the zeitgeist’s deepest vibrations, DeLillo says that he began writing this taut novel \'long before the current pandemic.\' As virus-imperiled readers take in this razor-sharp, yet tenderly forlorn, witty, nearly ritualized, and quietly unnerving tale, they will gingerly discern just how catastrophic this magnitude of silence and isolation would be.\
RaveBooklistExceptionally astute, artistic, and eviscerating ... Messud’s personal essays are, by turns, mischievously funny, emotionally wrenching, and elegantly intellectual ... Messud steers us to the light of forthright inquiry, truth, and beauty.
RaveBooklistMichaelis clarifies and repositions Eleanor Roosevelt’s extensively scrutinized, unique, and exceptional life in ways that emphasize just how profoundly relevant her epic struggles and achievements are in this time of political reckoning and quest for genuine social justice. With judicious use of newly accessible sources, sure command of the complexities of the Roosevelt clan, and acute sensitivity to the contrast between Eleanor’s public persona and inner self, Michaelis provides a fresh and heart-wrenching perspective on her anguished childhood; her husband’s betrayals; her mother-in-law’s dominance; her six pregnancies in rapid succession and the death of an infant son; her reluctant but ultimately passionate embrace of the demands of political life; her transformation and elevation of the role of First Lady; her blind spots; and her frequently self-wounding love for women and men. Michaelis meticulously chronicles Eleanor’s failings and triumphs within the gripping context of her overt and covert advocacy on behalf of the overlooked and the oppressed during the Great Depression, both world wars, the Cold War, and the civil rights movement. Solid details and astute distillation ensure that readers absorb and appreciate the full impact of Eleanor’s suffering, prodigious work, and gender-leaping, world-altering accomplishments as an activist, adviser, world-traveling investigator and envoy of mercy, human-rights commissioner, syndicated columnist and writer, radio and TV host, and global conscience.
PositiveBooklistMarchant elucidates key moments of mathematical, technological, artistic, and scientific ingenuity, and profiles intriguing visionaries. Ultimately, Marchant considers the mysteries of consciousness and expresses concern over the implications of our separation from the stars. In a tour de force on par with Sapiens (2015), by Yuval Noah Harari, Marchant argues that we need to experience the awe evoked by the unveiled night sky so that we, once again, feel profoundly connected to the cosmos and, more crucially, to earthly life, which is precious, vulnerable, and in our care.
RaveBooklist\'Harold,\' the first short story written by Australian American Hazzard, was enthusiastically accepted by the New Yorker in 1959. It is a gem still, as are the other 27 faceted and beaming stories ... Cosmopolitan in location, exquisitely executed, and glinting with the sort of keen wit and perception found in the fiction of Margaret Drabble and Elizabeth Bowen, Hazzard’s stories are startlingly fresh and revealing in their poise, sting, and compassion.
RaveBooklistIn this deeply inquisitive, dazzlingly fluent scientific, cultural, and spiritual investigation, Davis illuminates the natural and human history of Río Magdalena ... Always with a discerning eye to the symbolic and metaphorical, Davis tells the river’s saga of fecundity and horror through the lives of remarkable individuals past and present.
RaveBooklistIn her highly distilled and rarefied first novel since her Hugo Award–winning debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellClarke posits another dynamic between a seeming mentor and mentee. But the realm in which their increasingly suspect relationship unspools is a bizarre and baffling one ... As questions multiply and suspense mounts in this spellbinding, occult puzzle of a fable, one begins to wonder if perhaps the reverence, kindness, and gratitude practiced by Clarke’s enchanting and resilient hero aren’t all the wisdom one truly needs.
RaveBooklist... [a] glorious work of metaphysical and moral inquiry, nuanced feelings, intricate imagination, and exquisite sensuousness ... Myriad manifestations of pain are evoked, but here, too, are beauty, humor, mystery, and joy as Robinson holds us rapt with the exactitude of her perceptions and the exhilaration of her hymnal cadence, and so gracefully elucidates the complex sorrows and wonders of life and spirit.
RaveBooklist... deeply researched, energetic, and comprehensively re-envisioned ... As conversant as Hazareesingh is in the dramatic and snarled political and military history at play in this treacherous and righteous war for liberty, it is Toussaint’s character and abilities, gleaned from overlooked archival sources, including Toussaint’s own writings, that shine here ... here, vividly and invaluably, is Toussaint Louverture in full.
David Heska Wanbli Weiden
PositiveBooklistWeiden’s cantering, engrossing, and culturally revelatory debut crime novel is propelled by vital and affecting Native American characters facing the endless repercussions of the genocidal past, ongoing racism and injustice, and cruel betrayals within their besieged community. Suspenseful, gritty, gruffly endearing, and resonant, Weiden’s thriller, with its illumination of Lakota spiritual traditions and hopes raised for Virgil’s evolution from thug to sleuth, launches a promising and meaningful series.
RaveBooklist... gorgeously composed, complexly affecting, and stunningly revelatory. Macdonald is both exacting and enthralled as she describes glowworms, hares, ants, swans, migrating birds seen at night from the top of the Empire State Building, the paradoxes of nature reserves, tree disease, storms, the lessons in denial and prediction embedded in migraines, how wild mushrooms signal a hidden larger whole, and the shock felt by every living entity during a total solar eclipse ... There is abundant wonder and beauty here, but they are shadowed by concern and grief because the north to which Macdonald’s compass points is climate change and its ravaging of life’s intricate web, from the monumental to the microbial ... Best-selling Macdonald’s fans will rush to embrace this, as should all readers passionate about nature.
RaveBooklistIn her gripping and provoking debut novel, Cook extends the shrewd and implacable dramatization of our catastrophic assault on the biosphere that she so boldly launched in her short story collection, Man v. Nature (2014) ... As fiercely precise and intimate as Cook’s physical descriptions are, the novel’s edgy bewitchment is generated by her characters’ elaborately elucidated psychological struggles ... Violence, death, tribalism, lust, love, betrayals, wonder, genius, and courage—all are enacted in this stunningly incisive and complexly suspenseful tale akin to dystopian novels by Margaret Atwood and Claire Vaye Watkins. When Cook finally widens the lens on her characters’ increasingly desperate predicament, the exposure of malignant greed, deceit, and injustice resonates with devastating impact.
RaveBooklist[Rooney is] an imaginative and audacious biographically inspired storyteller ... Here Rooney brings forward with bravura empathy and preternatural detail two WWI heroes, two battered survivors of a horrific military debacle ... Fluent in the most gruesome of facts, the most subtle of feelings, and the most compassionate of speculations, Rooney gives voice to bird and man, each a misfit ... Rooney uses Cher Ami’s bird’s-eye view and curious afterlife to exhilarating, comic, and terrifying effect, while Whit’s tragic fate is exquisitely rendered. An unforgettable maelstrom of emotion and bloodshed, this is a plangent antiwar novel, call for sexual equality, celebration of animal intelligence, and tribute to altruism and courage.
PositiveBooklist... precisely imagined ... [a] vivid and funny cautionary allegory, an appropriately provocative, twenty-first-century, urban variation on George Orwell’s Animal Farm ... Murphy’s astute perceptions social, political, and emotional; ingenious inventiveness, fluid empathy, and mischievous wit coalesce in an irresistible fable of ringing impact.
RaveBooklistMcConaghy’s transfixing, gorgeously precise novel is propelled by Franny’s desperate effort to follow what may be the last flock of Arctic terns on their perilous migration from Greenland, where she finesses her way onto a fishing boat, to Antarctica ... The scenes on board the Saghani, with its intriguing outcast crew, are psychologically intense and physically harrowing. McConaghy’s evocation of a world bereft of wildlife is piercing; Franny’s otherworldliness is captivating, and her extreme misadventures and anguished secrets are gripping. Some may find this darkly enrapturing work of ecofiction too heavily plotted, but all the violence, shock, and loss Franny navigates do aptly, and unnervingly, foreshadow a possible environmental apocalypse.
PositiveBooklistPortraying Clinton with all due complexity, D’Antonio chronicles every public ordeal she endured as First Lady of Arkansas and the United States, U.S. senator, secretary of state, and popular-vote-winning presidential candidate in pinpoint detail, then reveals with equal meticulousness the vicious machinations of the Right as their hostile tactics grew ever more diabolical and perversely profitable, their hypocrisy epic. He calls out a veritable army of character assassins, including Newt Gingrich, Roger Ailes, Kenneth Starr, Brett Kavanaugh, Rush Limbaugh, and Donald Trump, contrasting their venomous and ludicrous accusations and outright threats with Clinton’s poise, stamina, and dignity under fire. This galvanizing exposé will stand as a key resource in the study of sexism and politics.
RaveBooklistPinpoint physical details and precisely articulated emotions collide with the mystical, while scientific quests drive characters to extremes ... With transporting empathy and feverish intensity, Mason portrays the brilliant naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who trustingly shared his theory of evolution with Darwin. Sheer wonder shapes the title story ... With touches of Borges and Calvino, Mason’s fabulist stories are works of tenderness and awe for human curiosity, passion, mad valor, and profound resiliency.
RaveBooklistFor all of Lippman’s success as a best-selling novelist and crime writer, she examines her life in pithy personal essays with a strong shot of ruefulness and not a shred of self-congratulation. In her first nonfiction title, she is confiding, sharply funny, and disarmingly candid about both her struggles and her privilege ... She revels in confession and connection, surprise and provocation, and she performs all with panache, wisdom, wit, and courage. Lippman asserts: \'I’m a tough old bird,\' and readers will declare: and one helluva true-tale teller.
RaveBooklist... delving and lyrically precise ... With fresh perceptions and cascades of facts, Giggs considers our ancient and persistent whale wonderment, high-tech whale hunting, the 1970s Save the Whales movement, global warming, mass extinction, and pollution, including the oceanic plastic plague. She offers a startling assessment of how smart phones pose new perils for the wild, and ponders the loss to our inner lives if we destroy the mystery of the sea. There is much to marvel at here ... Deeply researched and deeply felt, Giggs’ intricate investigation, beautifully revelatory and haunting, urges us to save the whales once again, and the oceans, and ourselves.
PositiveBooklistDemick anchors her Tibetan chronicle to Ngaba, a town on the Tibetan Plateau in the former kingdom of Mei. Gonpo, a daughter of the last Mei king, who was deposed by the Chinese in 1958, is at the center of the group portrait Demick meticulously composes, weaving in defining details of everyday life as she recounts harrowing stories of brutality, loss, sacrifice, and love that embody the larger story of Tibet’s long fight for freedom ... Writing with pristine clarity made possible by complete fluency in her complex material, Demick provides the missing human dimension in coverage of twenty-first-century Tibet, including the legacy of resistance that has engendered tragic protests by self-immolation, and all the anguish and paradoxes of lives heavily surveilled by the Chinese government, yet largely invisible to the greater world.
PositiveBooklistBuckley sets aside historical farce to return to his mainstay, cutting-edge political satire, with this rambunctious roman à clef in the form of a memoir written in federal prison by President Trump’s seventh chief of staff ... As Buckley orchestrates Nutterman’s rapid rise and fall, he skewers key figures in the criminally dysfunctional Trump World with such characters as Seamus Colonnity at Fox News, spokesperson Katie Borgia-O’Reilly, and Senator Squigg Lee Biskitt. Buckley’s keenly informed, caustically ironic, and cheerfully raunchy comedy is both rollicking and hard-hitting in its outrage, a bold indictment perfectly targeted for this intensely polarized election year even though that battle is overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
RaveBooklistWriting with supple and entrancing grace, Tsukiyama...has each of her charismatic, caring characters share their memories and heartaches, reaching back several decades ... Tsukiyama also evokes the wild, opulent beauty of the island, the harsh lives of migrant workers, racist and domestic violence, mystical connections, the repercussions of a love triangle, and the tolls of age. As the volcano erupts, long-buried secrets and guilt surge to seismic effect. Tsukiyama’s dramatic yet discerningly congenial novel confronts the precariousness of existence and celebrates the healing power of generosity and love.
RaveBooklistAs a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former U.S. poet laureate, Trethewey...has conducted profound excavations into African American history and her own life. In her memoir, a work of exquisitely distilled anguish and elegiac drama ... Through finely honed, evermore harrowing memories, dreams, visions, and musings, Trethewey maps the inexorable path to her mother’s murder ... [a] yrical, courageous, and resounding remembrance.
RaveBooklistWriting with electrifying pleasure in discovery, Harvey zestfully captures \'the carnivalesque atmosphere\' of antebellum America ... vividly portrayed ... Deftly performing a fresh and telling analysis of the timeless power of the con man over Americans who worship those who invent their own rules and \'their own truths,\' Harvey brings to galloping life a forgotten, enlightening, and resounding chapter in America’s tumultuous history of searchers and charlatans.
RaveBooklist... a wily tale of carnal obsession ... Acclaimed and audacious essayist, novelist, and memoirist...Merkin is at her sly and provocative best as her brainy, candid, and witty protagonist intermittently interrupts the erotic spell of her addiction to address the reader and question everything from gender roles to therapy to the very nature of fiction. With psychological acuity, sexual heat, and now sadly nostalgic scenes of a pre-pandemic city...Merkin’s incisive novel of a woman piloting herself through the wildfire of sexual obsession is as boldly canny as it is cleverly diverting.
PositiveBooklist... quick-gliding ... Morris is frank, funny, and incisive as she revisits her \'free ranging\' Chicago childhood, single motherhood, and her start as writer, and expounds on tigers in the world and in the imagination ... Morris’ epigrammatic memoir is a finely wrought mosaic of unexpected and provocative pieces cunningly fit together.
RaveBooklistMariana Enriquez tells the story of Riachuelo, a poisoned river in Argentina. Mohammed Hanif contemplates the millions of overlooked Pakistanis displaced by floods. Eritrean refugee Sulaiman Addonia observes: \'Refugees and the earth face the same marginalization, the same neglect, the same abuse.\'Andri Snær Magnason charts the disappearance of glaciers in Iceland; Anuradha Roy considers the shrinking ice in the Himalayas, the source of water for millions. Futuristic tales by Pitchaya Sudbanthad and Sayaka Murata envision the elite cocooned from environmental ravages. Lauren Groff’s Florida story reckons with wastefulness and the vulnerability of the wild. Edwidge Danticat writes of toxic governmental corruption and a trash-fouled Haitian beach. Joy Williams protests ecocidal big-game hunting; Gaël Faye mourns lost forests and fireflies in Burundi. Yoked environmental and humanitarian crises in Egypt, Mexico, Hawaii, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and beyond are brought forward in masterful works elegiac, angry, and ironic in Freeman’s clarion global chorus.
PositiveBooklistDoherty sets all of her magnetic subjects within a fresh assessment of the sexism of postwar and Cold War America, and celebrates the Equivalents for breaking ground for “innovative, intimate” creations by women. Doherty’s vibrant curiosity and many-faceted expertise infuse this dynamic group biography with light and warmth.
RaveBooklist... a many-faceted first novel ... Serritella makes keen use of quantum theories about time and simultaneity in this busily plotted, emotionally astute, thoughtfully paranormal, witty, and suspenseful drama involving historical figures, academic ruthlessness, and the tragic riddles of mental illness. Serritella has also created a sensitive and searching tale about the courage and fortitude of a smart young woman in mourning and in peril.
PositiveBooklistMuch transpires here, from the frightening to the ludicrous to the profound. Zambreno is perceptive, funny, and spellbinding as she reflects on and dramatizes the infinite complexities of womanhood and creativity.
RaveBooklistGodwin, a word-perfect novelist of exceptional psychological refinement who has published a memoir about her struggles as a writer, infuses this tale of intrepid women with a profound inquiry into the ethics of storytelling and how literature can chart a way through tragedies ... The women remain connected in delectably plotted ways and maintain a suspenseful, decades-long correspondence. Secret traumas are slowly revealed, adjacent characters are magnetizing, and Godwin, as fluent in humor as in sorrow, sagely illuminates matters of faith, art, ambition, and generosity while celebrating change and steadfastness, friendship and love ... Godwin’s mastery and following grow with each book, and literary fiction lovers will seek out this intricately structured and emotionally rich tale.
RaveBooklist... more daring, seductive, and provocative [than its predecesor]. Commandingly narrated by one Hillary Rodham, and laced with true-to-life figures and facts, this exhilaratingly trenchant, funny, and affecting tale nonetheless pivots smartly away from reality ... With this split, Sittenfeld creates a vibrant and consequential alternative life for Hillary, rendered with shrewd and magnetizing specificity as the author dramatizes the sexism petty and threatening that Hillary confronts at every turn, while also offering unusual insights into the difficult-to-balance quests for racial and gender equality. As she envisions her Hillary’s demanding and ascendant career, crucial relationships, and political quests that reel Bill back into her sphere, Sittenfeld orchestrates a gloriously cathartic antidote to the actual struggles women presidential candidates face in a caustically divided America.
RaveBooklist... nine deeply internalized stories ... Ford himself is in splendid command of these pristine, emotionally intricate, stealthily unnerving, and mordantly funny tales of rupture, loss, and fathoms-deep loneliness. The setups seem predictable, then pitch into surprising and provocative directions. Lawyers abound; New Orleans, Chicago, and New York are the settings; houses embody longings and loss; and conflicts between Irish and American characters are fresh and intriguing. Ford masterminds unforeseen encounters and power shifts to complexly resonant effect ... Once again, virtuoso Ford deftly sails the seas and storms of consciousness.
Muhammad H. Zaman
PositiveBooklistZaman, an award-winning professor of biomedical engineering and international health and a New York Times columnist, dramatically recounts the history of microbial research ... Passionate about the science, the social implications, and the complex personalities of the scientists he so sharply portrays, Zaman reveals how the antibiotic saga of human ingenuity and greed is pegged to military conflicts, from WWI forward ... Like those about global warming, warnings about the risk of antibiotic resistance and superbugs have been issued for decades with little action taken. Now the evidence, so vividly presented here, is overwhelming, and Zaman urges us to speak up.
RaveBooklist...[an] increasingly horrifying climate-change fable ... As bewitching, unflinching, wry, and profoundly attuned to the state of the planet as ever, supremely gifted Millet tells a commanding and wrenching tale of cataclysmic change and what it will take to survive.
RaveBooklistPerl completes his zestfully expert two-book biography of exuberantly radical sculptor Calder in a volume every bit as scintillating and substantial as the first ... Perl’s unlimited access to primary materials and phenomenal artistic perception and narrative vitality cohere into a luxuriously detailed, photo-rich, and spirited illumination of Calder’s complex temperament.
PositiveBooklistBingham chronicles the adventures and heartbreaks of the tabloid-hounded \'richest girl in the world,\' from her childhood in the family’s opulent Fifth Avenue mansion to her lavish Hawaiian sanctuary, Shangri La, now a museum housing her pioneering Islamic art collection ... Fiercely private and skilled in conducting her extraordinary philanthropic work, Duke, Bingham asserts, hasn’t received the respect she deserves, an omission roundly corrected by this vivid and sensitive portrait-in-full.
RaveBooklistIn her fourth work of visual nonfiction...[Redniss] forges an enthralling convergence of oral history and narrative to tell with precision and empathy the dramatic story of the still unresolved battle over Oak Flat. She reaches back to the region’s history of conquest and economic booms and busts; illuminates Apache culture, highlighting the arduous, traditional coming-of-age ceremony for young women that Naelyn performs on Oak Flat; and elucidates the damage copper mining does to the land and human health. By letting facts and perceptions reverberate in sync with her similarly distilled, lustrously colorful drawings, Redniss creates a stunningly holistic and deeply moving tale of how we value and live on the earth for better and for worse.
RaveBooklist... intimate poems of being ... Ledger perfectly embodies Hirshfield’s carefully weighted tone as she reckons with our constant subtraction of Earth’s life forces and incessant addition of carbon to our atmosphere, acid to our seas ... Hirshfield is tender, witty, philosophical, and clarion, knowing us to be creatures of yes and no, credits and debits.
PositiveBooklistWily and adept, Begley continued to conduct his signature droll and exacting dissection of the privileges and torments of the wealthy ... With discerning, amusing, and cutting commentary on everything from food and wine to politics, sex, and the right to die with dignity, Begley seduces and provokes with fiercely urbane wit.
Greta Thunberg, Malena Ernman, Svante Thunberg
RaveBooklist...this blazingly candid family memoir reveals the grueling and bewildering struggles that propelled Greta onto the world stage ... Narrated primarily by her mother, opera singer Malena Ernman, with passages from Greta, her sister, and their father, and written in brief, hard-hitting \'scenes,\' this is an unnerving and profoundly enlightening chronicle of the symbiosis between human and planetary health as manifest within one remarkable family whose painful awakening to our \'acute sustainability crisis\' should embolden us all.
RaveBooklistHis in-the-moment descriptions are precise and vital, but he renders them uniquely evocative and haunting by paralleling current dilemmas with ancient myths, Greek tragedies, literature, and art. Farrier further guides us to new and wrenching environmental perceptions by tracking the long lives of a plastic bottle and nuclear waste, increasing jellyfish blooms, and the toxic markings of mines, drugs, roads, and the carbon-burning servers powering our consuming digital lives. Farrier sees Earth as a vast library, and encourages us to recognize and think deeply about the indelible stories of destruction and catastrophic loss we’re adding to the planet’s archive.
PositiveBooklistStahr establishes the foundation of Kahlo’s aesthetics––her extensive reading, work with her photographer father, and fascination with nature’s interconnectivity, the Aztec embrace of duality, and alchemy––then elucidates the profound impact her sojourns in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York had on the arc of her creativity. By mining Kahlo’s letters and the invaluable diary of her friend, artist Lucienne Bloch, Stahr establishes remarkably precise and incisive contexts for many of Kahlo’s most shocking and revolutionary works, while also chronicling her complex relationships, including her involvement with Georgia O’Keeffe. Stahr brings new clarity to Kahlo’s life and genius for creating audacious autobiographical tableaux which pose resounding questions about history, justice, gender, spirituality, and freedom.
RaveBooklistIf Tyler’s large-cast, many-faceted novels...are symphonies, this portrait of a man imprisoned by his routines is a concerto ... Tyler’s perfectly modulated, instantly enmeshing, heartrending, funny, and redemptive tale sweetly dramatizes the absurdities of flawed perception and the risks of rigidity ... Tyler’s warmly comedic, quickly read tale, a perfect stress antidote, will delight her fans and provides an excellent \'first\' for readers new to this master of subtle and sublime brilliance.
RaveBooklistThe longed-for final volume in Mantel’s magnificent trilogy is...a stupendously knowledgeable, empathic, witty, harrowing, and provocative novel of power and its distortions ... Cromwell rules these vivid pages, yet every character and setting resonates, and Mantel’s virtuoso, jousting dialogue is exhilarating. Gossip, insults, bribes, lies, threats, jealousy, revenge, all propel this delectably shrewd and transfixing Tudor tragedy, this timeless saga of the burden of rule, social treacheries, and the catastrophic cost of indulging a raving despot.
RaveBooklistIn this arrestingly intimate and cathartic work, drawn from notebooks she kept during a recent \'time of upheaval,\' she reveals her struggles with doubt, confusion, pain, and anxiety, forging an audaciously articulate, prodigiously candid, and thought-provoking blend of memoir, literary biography, confession, and dissection ... Roiphe delves into the lives of women writers...praising Simone de Beauvoir as a \'brilliant elucidator,\' which Roiphe is, too, to deeply clarifying and affirming effect.
PositiveBooklistIn her finely sourced and lively first book, Gorton tells the complex, entwined stories of these two ardent innovators and their temperamental differences, symbiotic friendship, and reverberating achievements ... Including incisive portraits of other McClure’s journalists, Gorton’s fresh and vivid biographical history ultimately affirms the essential role an independent press of conscience plays in our democracy.
Deb Olin Unferth
RaveBooklistA daring writer of wit, imagination, and conscience, Unferth has transformed her foray into hen hell into an adroitly narrated, fast-paced, yet complexly dimensional novel about emotional and environmental devastation ... Unferth sharply illuminates the contrariness of human nature, celebrates the evolutionary marvels of chickens, and exposes the horrors of the egg industry. Unferth’s vividly provoking and revelatory work of ecofiction spiked with mordant humor and powered by love joins the ranks of Annie Proulx’s That Old Ace in the Hole (2002), Sara Gruen’s Ape House (2010), Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (2012), and Abby Geni’s The Wildlands (2018).
RaveBooklist...an enormous, complex, compelling, and, by turns, distressing and rallying analysis of the dysfunctional symbiotic relationships between free-market capitalism, the fossil fuels industry, and global warming ... Within this mammoth mosaic of assiduously collected facts and bold analysis, Klein addresses every aspect of the causes and threats of climate change and the paradox of why we behave as though we value the mythical free-market more than real life itself ... This comprehensive, sure-to-be controversial inquiry, one of the most thorough, eloquent, and enlightening books yet on this urgent and overwhelming subject—alongside works by Bill McKibben, Elizabeth Kolbert, and Diane Ackerman—provides the evidence and the reasoning we need to help us shift to a \'worldview based on regeneration and renewal rather than domination and depletion.\'
William T. Vollmann
PositiveBooklistVollmann pours his signature fascination with outcasts, women’s sexuality, violence, and injustice into this gargantuan, omnivorously explicit, ravening orgy of trauma and resilience. Rooted in interviews with women survivors, this is a molten amalgam of cynicism and compassion, horror and beauty ... Audacious and tireless writer-of-conscience Vollmann returns to the scene of his earliest works in this bound-to-be-controversial novel.
RaveBooklistSharlet’s most in-depth accounts tell...crushing stories ... With shimmers of Robert Frank and James Agee, Sharlet’s images and words, hypnotic and haunting flares in the dark, coalesce into a trenchant work of witness and empathy.
RaveBooklistJen’s stealthy wit lures us into contemplation of our worst failings and our saving graces ... In this astutely realized and unnervingly possible depiction of a near-future world, Jen masterfully entwines shrewd mischief, knowing compassion, and profound social critique in a suspenseful tale encompassing baseball ardor, family love, newly insidious forms of racism and tyranny, and a wily and righteous resistance movement that declares \'RIGHT MAKES MIGHT.\'
RaveBooklistSolnit has created an unconventional and galvanizing memoir-in-essays that shares key, often terrifying, formative moments in her valiant writing life ... She...illuminates with piercing lyricism the body-and-soul dangers women face in our complexly, violently misogynist world ... This is an incandescent addition to the literature of dissent and creativity.
RaveBooklist... [a] spellbinding, reverent, and resplendent drama ... a work of distinct luminosity ... Through the personalities and predicaments of her many charismatic characters, and through rapturous descriptions of winter landscapes and steaming meals, sustaining humor and spiritual visitations, Erdrich traces the indelible traumas of racism and sexual violence and celebrates the vitality and depth of Chippewa life.
RaveBooklistSayles animates a vibrant and complex cast of diverse individuals caught in an extraction boom driven by greed and hope ... Sayles’ alternating narrators propel a busy, engrossing, and purposeful plot steered by both suspenseful action and intricate emotion. Aligned with T. C. Boyle in his penetrating perception of our place in nature and Tom Wolfe in his rambunctious satire, Sayles is adept at vital detail and dialogue, guided by a keen social perspective, centered by an edgy sense of humor, and inspired by empathy.
PositiveBooklistMiller’s description of New York City as perceived by her young, fresh-from-Ohio self is funny and shrewd ... Miller offers a keen and caustic take on the literary universe at a crossroads as the reigning giants, all male, were challenged by newcomers Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace, and as magazines began to be undermined by the first exploratory trickles of the impending digital flood ... her passages recounting blatant and insidious sexism are bracing, and her disclosures about her relationship with Wallace are cathartic. Miller’s love for language and faith in the power of art deepen this finely composed, forthright, witty, and involving memoir of one woman’s triumph in the competitive literary cosmos.
RaveBooklistCain’s bewitching first novel is so deeply internalized that the reader knows neither what city the solitude-loving narrator lives in nor the time frame, though candles and carriages are mentioned, nor her age and appearance ... Cain’s concentrated, subtle, and intriguing portrait of an evolving artist resolutely rejecting gender and class roles, with its subtle nods to Jean Rhys, Clarice Lispector, and Octavia Butler, explores the risks and rewards of a call to create and self-liberate.
Isabel Allende, Trans. by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson
RaveBooklistAllende deftly addresses war, displacement, violence, and loss in a novel of survival and love under siege, a tale that is seductively intimate and strategically charming with valor, perseverance, transcendent romance, and wondrous reunions providing narrative sweeteners to lure readers into contemplation of past atrocities and, covertly, of the disturbingly similar outrages of the present, in which refugees and immigrants are treated with appalling cruelty and fascist threats escalate around the warming world.
RaveBooklist... another crisply revelatory portrait of a marriage and family in flux ... Offill, who will delight fans of Lydia Davis and Joy Williams, performs breathtaking emotional and social distillation in this pithy and stealthily resonant tale of a woman trying to keep others, and herself, from \'tipping into the abyss.\'
RaveBooklistShields is a balance-beam critic, taking his critiques of life and art to the edge and executing breath-catching leaps and flips. He doesn’t always stick the landing, but he’s always entrancing ... provocateur Shields constructs just the sort of mash-up he audaciously and brilliantly celebrates as the new art paradigm for the participant-driven Internet zeitgeist, where art and life entwine in one big, loud reality show.
RaveBooklist... tragic and transporting ... McCann meshes the actual and the imagined in concise, numbered passages totaling 1,001 in homage to the Arabian Nights. Each is exquisite and haunting, many are harrowing, and together they form an entrancing and unnerving associative collage of fact, memory, observation, and invention. He discovers startling connections while pondering weaponry and poetry, migrating birds and explorers, torture and checkpoints, the music of John Cage and Phillip Petit walking for peace on a tightrope over Jerusalem. McCann performs his own epic balancing act between life and art, writing with stunning lyricism and fluent empathy as he traces the ripple effects of violence and grief, beauty, and the miraculous power of friendship and love, valor and truth.
PositiveBooklistWith hilariously identifiable characters, chillingly brazen criminality, and burgeoning totalitarianism conveyed in a mesmerizing, fairy-tale cadence, Eggers, in concert with nimble and expressive illustrator Russell, presents an ingenious, incisive, grimly entrancing fable reflecting our nation’s ever more alarming predicament.
Elizabeth Hardwick and Robert Lowell, Ed. by Saskia Hamilton
PositiveBooklistHardwick is elegantly exacting even as the situation worsens and she pounds out letters of fury and resolve. Lowell’s responses are apologetic and dogged ... With graceful authority, poet and editor Saskia Hamilton defines the emotional and literary issues raised by this controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning book, reissued to reveal Lowell’s revisions as The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972–1973 in conjunction with these ensnaring and affecting transatlantic letters between two poets who, in spite of epic hurt, never ceased loving each other.
Ed. by John F. Callahan and Marc C. Conner
PositiveBooklist... startling, and so vivid, muscular, frank, lengthy, and involving are [Ellison\'s] missives, it’s clear that writing was his sustenance ... Ellison’s letters to family, friends (especially Albert Murray and Saul Bellow), colleagues, agents, editors, and fans have the agility, wit, and spectrum of the moods, tones, and pace found in jazz, which he loved. Editor John F. Callahan provides a chronology, a richly dimensional general introduction, and enlightening overviews of Ellison’s preoccupations, endeavors, and travels during each decade. Ellison’s supremely well-crafted, captivating, often caustic letters chronicle his personal life, experiences teaching and lecturing, replies to endless queries about his masterpiece, and research into his family history for his uncompleted novel. Ellison also delivers probing inquiries into the complexities of race, identity, Americanness, and creativity.
RaveBooklistCoulson’s 25 years on staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art inspired this vivid, comedic, tender, and episodic debut about the unexpected forms life and consciousness take in that vast trove ... Coulson is emotionally keen, acerbically witty, fleetly imaginative, and lyrically resonant, her love for the Met, for humanness, and for beauty radiant on each surprising page.
Flannery O'Connor, Ed. by Benjamin Alexander
PositiveBooklistThese letters by O’Connor and her circle bring to light the impact her genius had on other writers ... O’Connor acknowledges her \'rootedness in Dante\' as the collection’s editor, Benjamin Alexander, puts it, and describes her adventures raising peacocks, her response to reading Henry James, her thoughts on prayer, and how crucial letters are as her illness isolates her. This edifying and entertaining gathering offers a new portal onto a playful, spiritual, courageous, and indelible American master.
RaveBooklist[An] incisive, bold, and passionate reclamation of language ... Each entry in his dictionary of 26 resonant words—among them agitate, body, decency, environment, giving, norms, spirit, teachers, usurp, and vote—is a perceptive and rousing assessment of various aspects of the raging \'information war\' ... The result, gracefully punctuated with an afterword by MacArthur fellow Valeria Luiselli, is an incandescent and galvanizing protest and call for awareness and action.
RaveBooklistIn this gripping \'bio-memoir,\' Bair candidly, dramatically, and sometimes bemusedly recounts the shocking adversity, both devious and outright vicious, that she encountered throughout the seven long years she worked diligently on her groundbreaking book ... Bubbling with piquant profiles, astounding anecdotes, and illuminating insights into the ethics of and obstacles to biography, Bair’s look-back makes all the more remarkable her subsequent and exceptional biographies of Anaïs Nin, Carl Jung, Saul Steinberg, and Al Capone. A zippy biographer’s tale [.]
RaveBooklistSecrest brings the extraordinary Olivetti clan vividly to life, reports on highly suspicious deaths, and dramatically illuminates their legendary company’s shocking downfall via long-hidden, deeply sordid conspiracies among fascists, Mafiosi, the CIA, IBM, GE, and Fiat to obliterate Olivetti’s crowning achievement and marvel of ingenuity, Programma 101, the first desktop computer. Deftly seeded with clues and lavish in intriguing detail, Secrest’s many-faceted exposé intensifies with dark surprise as it reveals Cold War acts of sinister politics, ruthless espionage, and covert crimes, and traces the long, grasping tentacles of the American military-industrial complex.
MixedBooklistThis installment begins with the insanely gruesome torture and killing of a wealthy couple ... Jack takes ridiculous chances whenever he isn’t savoring Feng’s elaborate gourmet meals and pricey whiskey and wine. A preposterous, if neatly rendered and readily consumed, tale of suspense in which elegance counterbalances horror.
PositiveBooklistThis sizable and scintillating collection is the first to showcase Davis’ nonfiction. Much of the pleasure in these agile and illuminating literary inquiries is found in her tales of how she came to write ... Davis’ readers relish the quick feints and thrusts of her concise stories, and here we discover just how much revision is involved in their composition.
RaveWBEZ ChicagoLiterary call-outs abound in The Borrower. Huckleberry Finn is a guiding light. The Oz books are avidly recommended for any kid who feels as though his or her entire being is the equivalent of coloring outside the lines. Makkai also works in some jittery allusions to Nabokov’s Lolita as Lucy tries to figure out what the heck she thinks she’s doing, crossing state lines with a 10-year-old boy whose family must be frantic about him. Is she borrowing the boy because she’s lonely and confused? ... Charming, funny, original, thought-provoking, and moving, Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower embraces outsiders and dissenters, and celebrates the power of our imagination and our empathy. This warmly entertaining, picaresque novel in praise of personal freedom and books leaves us marveling over literature’s magnificent paradox: that in fiction dwells profound truth.
PositiveBooklistIn this uniquely focused and vitally analytical history, Princenthal recognizes an underappreciated facet of revolutionary art, and dramatically captures the bravura, shocking, at times media-savvy, in other cases stunningly covert performances of Yoko Ono, Suzanne Lacy, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ana Mendieta, Adrian Piper, and Marina Abramović, as well as the ferocious pictorial work of Nancy Spero. The risks they took, the anger aroused by their exposure of society’s indifference toward or complicity in sexual crimes against women, and the intellectual underpinnings of their work are all expertly elucidated in Princenthal’s unprecedented and searing inquiry.
Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
PositiveBooklist... warm, graceful, and candid ... Andrews, along with her steadfast coauthor, tells captivating, sweetly self-deprecating, funny, and painful behind-the-scenes tales about her many movie adventures and frankly recounts the end of her first marriage and the high drama of her second as she and renowned director Blake Edwards collaborated cinematically and in creating a complicated extended family often beset with traumas. This deeply pleasurable and forthright chronicle illuminates the myriad reasons \'home work\' has such profound meaning for artist and humanitarian Andrews.
C. D. Wright
RaveBooklistMacArthur fellow Wright is known for her social consciousness and improvisational style, and she takes both qualities up a notch in this dramatically investigative and looping portrait of V ... Wright’s sharply fractured, polyphonic, and suspenseful book-length poem is both a searing dissection of hate crimes and their malignant legacy and a lyric, droll, and fiery elegy to a woman of radiant resistance.
RaveBooklistAnshaw’s compassionate novels are propelled by her preternatural gift for close observation, so it was a stroke of genius to create a hyper-attentive set-designer narrator. Not only does Cate take in every detail of every scene, she also has strong opinions about all that she surveys, making her inner monologue stingingly precise and often hilarious ... With sharply drawn characters, an ensnaring plot, and a look back at closeted gay lives, Anshaw, acutely attuned to the shifting weather of emotions and relationships, insightfully dramatizes the insistence of desire over convention and expediency and the endless reverberations of violence.
Helena Janeczek, trans. by Ann Goldstein
RaveBooklistHelen Janeczek joins an illustrious group of novelists who have found a deep wellspring for fiction in the Spanish Civil War ... Rather than tell Gerda’s riveting story in a straight-ahead work of biographical fiction, Janeczek has created the exceptionally intricate The Girl with the Leica, translated by Ann Goldstein and winner of the prestigious Strega Prize, in which she portrays Gerda through the eyes of three people who loved her, true-life individuals with extraordinary stories of their own ... Janeczek’s demanding, allusion-saturated, multiperspective novel portrays a circle of valiant dissidents and ventures into many spheres, but the focus always swings back to resplendently determined, courageous, and creative Gerda.
Terry Tempest Williams
RaveBooklistAn apostle of life and earth and a soul-revving teller of true stories, Williams brings lyricism, candor, mystery, and factual exactitude to the deeply affecting essays collected here ... [Williams] traces the nexus between beauty and spirit and explains lucidly and passionately why it’s essential for humanity to conserve nature on our warming planet ... Williams reports on enlightening forays in the Arctic, Galápagos Islands, Rwanda, and China, and shares, with profound resonance, her brother’s suicide and the harsh consequences of her and her husband’s protest purchase of oil and gas leases. Williams takes readers far beyond the expected, illuminates unforeseen connections, and rejects despair, embracing, instead, attentiveness and action ... Williams’ exquisite testimony of wonder and wisdom is vitalizing and crucial.
PositiveBooklistBall, a writer of exceptional and pensive imagination, adds another trenchant fable to his distinctively disquieting oeuvre ... Writing with blood-freezing sparseness, Ball illuminates this calamitously immoral place in loosely linked episodes.
RaveBooklistIn this gripping and revelatory memoir, Power chronicles, with vibrant precision and stunning candor, her best and worst moments navigating the obstacle courses within the White House and the UN, daunting global crises, and personal struggles. She is utterly compelling in her eye-witness accounts of violence and political standoffs and shrewdly witty in her tales about balancing diplomacy and motherhood. Ultimately, Power affirms the possibility for positive change and asserts that America’s power resides in its respect for human rights.
RaveBooklist...a shrewdly suspenseful tale of survival and resistance. And Atwood’s wit is phosphorescent ... Finding that subversive female energy flowing molten beneath the surface of chilling Gilead is positively therapeutic ... For all the wrenching violence and heart-pounding action in The Testaments...it is the droll and righteous commentary that sets this novel alight. Both Gilead novels face head-on the horrors of tyranny and find some glimmer of hope in the redemptive act of bearing witness, a courageous expression of dissent and declaration of freedom in all its hectic and essential splendor.
RaveBooklist... breaks new ground by virtue of his access to private archives, sagacious close-readings of Sontag’s radical writings, and conducting of hundreds of interviews. Moser discerns fresh significance in Sontag’s venturesome life and troubled psyche, from her precocious ardor for books and her youth in Hollywood to her sadomasochistic relationship with her alcoholic mother, her disassociation from her body, her lifelong reluctance to fully acknowledge her lesbianism, and her deep insecurity behind the glamorous façade of her renown. In clear-cut and supple prose, Moser avidly presents provocative facts and insights ... Moser also offers thrillingly clarifying analysis of the fiction of which Sontag was so proud, and her culture-altering criticism in which she broke down the barrier between popular and fine arts, interrogated the ethics of photography, scrutinized the implications of fame, metaphor, and pain, and declared that \'literature is freedom.\'
RaveBooklist... cunning and mordant ... Smith, an empathic and sardonic global writer, inhabits the psyches of radically different characters in varied settings as she orchestrates stealthily cutting dramas of generational and societal power struggles complicated by gender and race ... Adept at sudden psychological pivots ... Fury, heartbreak, and drollery collide in masterfully crafted prose that ranges in effect from the exquisitely tragic lyricism of Katherine Mansfield to the precisely calibrated acid bath of Jamaica Kincaid as Smith demonstrates her unique prowess for elegant disquiet.
PositiveBooklistAn edgy spirit of inquiry, a fascination with obsession, a penchant for sharing personal experiences, and incandescent writing skills make Jamison an exciting premier essayist ... Magnetizing and thought-provoking.
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Eds. Cathy W. Barks and Jackson R. Bryer
RaveBooklist...[an] invaluable collection of letters, most previously unpublished or long unavailable, a compilation that enables readers to witness firsthand the profound and sorely tested love of these two \'gifted and troubled human beings.\' Eloquently introduced by Eleanor Lanahan...this exceptionally moving correspondence reveals two ardent and creative souls struggling with the ruthless demands of the artistic imperative as well as two terrible diseases ... The majority of the letters are Zelda’s, and they’re dazzling in their vividness, metaphorical richness, and humor, and unfailing in their affection. Adoring, forgiving, and hardworking, Scott and Zelda were steadfastly committed to each other, and to art.
RaveBooklist...an exuberantly imagined and lacerating homage to the revered satire, Don Quixote ... This spellbinding, many-limbed saga of lives derailing in the \'Age of Anything-Can-Happen\' is a wily frolic and a seismic denunciation. Rushdie meshes shrewd, parodic humor with intensifying suspense and pervasive sympathy, seeding this picaresque doomsday adventure with literary and television allusions and philosophical musings. As his vivid, passionate, and imperiled characters are confronted with racism, sexism, displacement, family ruptures, opioid addiction, disease, cyber warfare, and planetary convulsions, they valiantly seek the transcendence of love ... Rushdie’s dazzling and provocative improvisation on an essential classic has powerful resonance in this time of weaponized lies and denials.
RaveBooklist..[a] tour de force of intrepid global inquiry ... With precision, drama, and intimacy, Urbina recounts his role in a dangerous at-sea standoff between Indonesian and Vietnamese authorities, a frightening escape from Somalia, and many other harrowing situations, and describes his tenuous network of sources, translators, fixers, and spies. His biggest fear is that his risky quest may do harm to people rather than good, but there is no doubt that the bravely gleaned and galvanizing facts about maritime savagery and brewing catastrophes, which he so vividly and cogently presents, coalesce into an exposé of immense magnitude and consequence.
RaveBooklistIn her third memoir, National Book Award winner Smith writes with fresh lucidity, arch wit, bittersweet wonder, and stoic sorrow, shifting in tone from lyrical to hallucinatory to hard-boiled as she describes her meditative and investigative meanderings along the Pacific coast and in the desert ... Smith also chronicles with exquisite poignancy her last visits with her soul mate Sam Shepherd as she helps him complete his last book. Smith’s reflections on a wrenching yet grace-filled year as \'the world in its dependable folly kept spinning\' is elegiac, vital, and magical.
Eve L. Ewing
RaveBooklist...exquisitely distilled lyrics ... These clarion and haunting poems—some psalm-like, others percussive, even concussive, all technically brilliant and sure to galvanize adults and teens alike—incisively and resoundingly evoke the promise and betrayal of the Great Migration and the everyday struggles of Chicago’s Black community against vicious and violent racism. The riot a century ago, Ewing writes, \'left an indelible mark on the city,\' which she gracefully, imaginatively, and searingly illuminates with hope for a more just future.
PositiveBooklist... resplendent and reverberating ... deeply rooted in tribal and family experiences, nature, land, and tradition. Harjo places swatches of history between her entrancing lyrics like specimens of poisonous plants in a naturalist’s log ... Harjo’s bracing political perspective is matched by timeless wisdom as she reflects on her life and lessons learned, and celebrates her time-bending grandfather, saxophone-playing grandmother (Harjo does the same), Earth’s bounty, and the transcendent power of song and love. In clarion, incantatory poems that recalibrate heart and mind, Harjo conveys both the endless ripples of loss and the brightening beauty and hope of the sunrise.
RaveBooklistWith unflinching detail, O’Brien describes barbaric murders and gang rapes and deep soul damage. The story of Maryam’s survival, escape, struggle to find any shred of love left in her assaulted heart for her baby daughter, and grueling, politicized return, upon which mother and child are stigmatized and betrayed, is galvanizing and hallucinatory in its anguish and fear. There are flashes of beauty, wit, and succor here, too, as O’Brien’s extraordinary hero begins to heal in a land beset by psychotic violence ... O’Brien’s bravely investigated novel of a young woman overcoming epic torture is profoundly empathic, unnervingly human, and darkly exquisite.
RaveBooklistArana’s...fluency in Latin American history blossoms in this unique and arresting inquiry into three \'crucibles\' which have shaped Latin American life for centuries ... In this masterwork of exploration, connection, and analysis, Arana offers a fresh, gripping, and redefining perspective on a vital and magnificent region betrayed by toxic greed and vicious tyranny.
RaveBooklistPatchett is at her subtle yet shining finest in this gloriously incisive, often droll, quietly suspenseful drama of family, ambition, and home ... With echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and in sync with Alice McDermott, Patchett gracefully choreographs surprising revelations and reunions as her characters struggle with questions of heredity, altruism, forgiveness, social expectations, and the need to be one’s true self.
Joyce Carol Oates
PositiveBooklistBoldly explicit, Oates’ tale of criminal psychosis draws on the druggy decadence, greed, sexism, and violence of Hollywood in the Charles Manson-Roman Polanski era ... Here is more evidence of Oates’ limitless, gruesome, and sympathetic imagination.
RaveBooklistDeen Datta, a Bengali American rare-books and antiquities dealer, finds himself drawn into an unforeseen, bafflingly mystical, and radically transformative adventure ... Ghosh seductively combines old-fashioned storytelling with keen research and a socially conscious sensibility to enthralling and piquantly enlightening affect.
RaveBooklist... a captivating mixture of family history and memoir ... With stirring details and delving perceptions, Straight chronicles the repercussions, generation after generation, of enslavement, Jim Crow, and immigration as well as rape, murder, grueling work, and single motherhood ... deeply affecting ... a ravishing and revelatory celebration of womanhood, resilience, family, community, and America’s defining diversity.
RaveBooklistWaldman is an ingenious and probing situational novelist ... In this deeply well-informed, utterly engrossing, mischievously disarming, and stealthily suspenseful tale of slow and painful realizations, Waldman hits the mark over and over again as Parveen not only plunges into the divide between her privileged life and the severe limitations Waheed’s two wives and the other village women contend with, but is also forced to recognize the tragic ironies of Crane’s influence, especially on the American military. Every aspect of this complex and caustic tale of hype and harm is saturated with insight and ruefulness as Parveen wises up and Waldman considers womanhood and choice, literacy and translation, hubris and lies, unintended consequences, and the devastating chaos of war.
RaveBooklist...a tale of two mothers...rendered in lyrical sentences and paragraphs that surface intermittently like stepping-stones within a deluge of consciousness ... [a] smart, hilarious, high-strung narrator ... Ellmann’s mesmerizing, witty, maximalist (think David Foster Wallace, William T. Vollmann), and maddening performance is a bravura and caring inquiry into Earth’s glory, human creativity and catastrophic recklessness, and the transcendence of love.
Svetlana Alexievich, Trans. by Keith Gessen
RaveBooklistAlexievich put her own health at risk to gather these invaluable frontline testimonies, which she has transmuted into a haunting and essential work of literature that one can only hope documents a never-to-be-repeated catastrophe.
RaveBooklist... [a] vivid and dramatic chronicle ... beyond-belief tales of daring journeys across Greenland’s immense and treacherous frozen desert by men of courage and conviction, hubris and vision, each keenly portrayed ... Gertner entrances with tales of dogsleds, cold, hunger, isolation, disasters, death, and the against-all-odds collection of invaluable scientific data ... Gertner observes that it will take a \'moral awakening\' to spur us to confront this looming threat. Hopefully, his deeply engrossing and enlightening ice epic will instigate action.
PositiveBooklistA paean to married love, creative endeavors, and compassion, and a delving look at love, loss, memory, and the afterlife in accord with Anne Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye, Norman’s atmospheric, wise, and witty novel has the radiance, hiss, and snap of a hearth fire on a wintry night.
RaveBooklist... an inventive, funny, and bittersweet inquiry into the significance of folk hero John Henry ... Masterfully composed and full of myth and magic, Whitehead’s great American novel considers such dualities as nature and civilization, legend and history, black and white, and altruism and greed, while deftly skewering the absurdities of the information age.
RaveBooklistWhitehead’s debut novel can claim a literary lineage that includes Orwell, Ellison, Vonnegut, and Pynchon, yet it is resoundingly original ... The story is mesmerizing, but it is Whitehead’s shrewd and sardonic humor and agile explications of the insidiousness of racism and the eternal conflict between the material and the spiritual that make this such a trenchant and accomplished novel.
RaveBooklistIn enthralling and unnerving passages that vary from an incisive history of Boko Haram to scenes that could be torn from a demented terrorist thriller to moments of heart-wrenching emotion, Sesay fully recounts each stage of the ordeal ... Peabody Award–winning Sesay’s narrative is not only dramatically informative, it is also brilliantly structured, commandingly eloquent, and profoundly empathic ... Sesay’s galvanizing Beneath the Tamarind Tree will recharge the global battle for women’s equality.
RaveBooklist... the most thorough and incisive portrait yet of this complicated, controversial, and enormously influential spiritual and political leader. Electric with recovered facts and jolting revelations, Marable’s dramatic and penetrating portrait is set within richly configured historical and cultural settings that illuminate long-neglected facets of the civil rights movement ... clarifying insights into the private conflicts of this brilliant, eloquent, magnetic, and zealous thinker, his outlaw years, troubled marriage, ceaseless travels, political prescience, and fatalism. The most chilling facets of the book are Marable’s chronicling of the FBI’s deep infiltration into the Nation of Islam and, after his ostracism, Malcolm’s organizations and of possible FBI collusion in Malcolm’s assassination and the failure to bring his killers to justice. Marable’s paramount biography leaves readers wondering where Malcolm’s spiritual and humanitarian metamorphosis might have taken him and everyone within reach of his commanding voice.
RaveBooklistOrner, the author of four previous books of fiction, is a master of the aphoristic short story. The 44 concise and stinging tales simmering here, along with a stunningly piquant novella, Walt Kaplan is Broke, express a full spectrum of caustic observations, nuanced emotions, and life-warping predicaments ... poignant and hilarious ... Orner writes with a heady blend of gravitas and wit similar to that of such kindred short-story virtuosos as Deborah Eisenberg, Andre Dubus, and Gina Berriault, while expressing his own edgy empathy and embrace of everyday absurdity.
RaveBooklistObreht...brings her extraordinarily intricate worldview, psychological and social acuity, descriptive artistry, and shrewd, witty, and zestful storytelling to another provocative inquiry into the mysteries of place, nature, and human complexities. In this audacious tale in sync with those of Rick Bass, Hannah Tinti, and Karen Russell ... As her protagonists’ lives converge, Obreht inventively and scathingly dramatizes the delirium of the West—its myths, hardships, greed, racism, sexism, and violence—in a tornadic novel of stoicism, anguish, and wonder.
RaveBooklistCiment...a virtuoso of the situational novel, has created a hypnotizing, forked tale of trust and guilt, masks and doubling, lies and desire, life and death. As she stealthily readjusts the depth of field and provokes the reader into questioning testimony personal and judicial in this intricately unsettling tale of morality and longing, Ciment dramatizes the anguish of betrayal, age, and illness and the many forms that acts of love can take.
RaveBooklistHemon’s newest, most delving nonfiction work ... He also incorporates the complicated histories of Bosnia and Yugoslavia, studded with cultural touchstones, in his ardently precise and analytical portraits of his parents, while in This Does Not Belong to You, he deepens the art of the vignette with sensuous and emotional veracity as he shares scorching moments from his Sarajevo childhood ... Here, too, are bracing candor, gruff tenderness, righteous anger, and political astuteness, all conveyed with Hemon’s signature intensity, mordant wit, and creative bite.
RaveBooklist...Matteson so adeptly builds a riveting double portrait of two exceptional Americans and abolitionists ... Making penetrating use of primary sources, Matteson gracefully interprets an astounding family drama of compassion and creativity, folly and courage, deprivation and mental instability ... Matteson’s lucid, commanding biography casts new light on an unusual father-daughter bond and a new land at war with itself.
PositiveBooklistSchiff, a gifted biographer...not only draws this fascinating and accomplished woman out from behind her cherished mask and celebrated husband, she illuminates the profoundly collaborative process by which Vladimir wrote his scintillatingly original and provocative works ... Schiff tracks their often precarious lives in increasingly dangerous Berlin, then in the wide-open U.S., focusing most energetically on Vera’s extraordinary involvement in Vladimir’s academic and literary careers.
RaveBooklist...an urgent and pithy book-length essay in which she argues for the viability of the nation. Readers seeking clear and relevant definitions of political concepts will appreciate this brisk yet thorough, frank, and bracing look at the ancient origins of the nation state versus the late-eighteenth-century coinage of the term \'nationalism\' and its alignment with exclusion and prejudice ... Lepore writes, placing today’s conflicts in context and calling for us to continue the struggle to deepen and protect American democracy.
RaveBooklist...discerning the real-life inspirations for the artists is part of this evocative tale’s allure. But its depth is found in how astutely Maum tracks her diarist-narrator’s intellectual and emotional coming-of-age through her evolving eloquence and sharpening perceptions. Wounded by her mother’s inattention, infatuated with a sculptor, burdened by her femaleness, and increasingly serious about making art, Lara is extraordinarily poignant. By internalizing and then transcending her sources, Maum has created a brilliantly arch and haunting novel of privilege and deprivation.
PositiveBooklistWinterson’s agile imagination prompts her to bridge distant times and improvise on oft-told tales with impish and serious intent ... he keeps readers off-kilter in a complex, two-track homage to Mary Shelley and the ever-relevant questions raised by her masterpiece, Frankenstein ... gracefully brooding, rain-drenched scenes set along Lake Geneva ... Winterson shimmers and sparks in this at once sensitive and caustic, philosophical and funny inquiry into the body-mind conundrum, what we consider monstrous and what we think makes us human, the rainbow spectrum of gender and sexuality, and how our technologically enhanced fears and desires might impact the planet’s future.
RaveBooklist... profoundly simpatico portrait of this path-breaking feminist and courageous journalist and writer ... inhabits Fuller’s dramatic, oft-told story with unique intimacy by virtue of her fluency in and judicious quoting of Fuller’s extraordinarily vivid letters ... Marshall brings stirring historical and psychological insights ... How spectacularly detailed and compassionate Marshall’s chronicle is of Fuller’s scandalous love for an Italian soldier, the birth of their son, her heroic coverage of the 1849 siege of Rome, and her and her family’s tragic deaths when their ship wrecks in sight of the American coast. A magnificent biography of a revolutionary thinker, witness, and writer.
RaveBooklistMuch like Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women ... this story collection reinstates a long-overlooked artist of live-wire incisiveness, shredding wit, and improbable beauty ... First published in the late 1970s and 1980s, Howland’s intrepidly autobiographical stories feel brand-new ... A compassionate, trenchant, and hilarious ethnographer of eccentricities and dysfunction, Howland now takes her place in Chicago’s literary pantheon...
RaveBooklist\"...a tautly focused and gripping portrait of two African American teens during the last vicious years of Jim Crow ... Whitehead’s magnetic characters exemplify stoicism and courage, and each supremely crafted scene smolders and flares with injustice and resistance, building to a staggering revelation. Inspired by an actual school, Whitehead’s potently concentrated drama pinpoints the brutality and insidiousness of Jim Crow racism with compassion and protest.\
PositiveBooklistIn prose poems and poetic essays as sharp and stinging as a surprise slap to the face, Rankine matter-of-factly chronicles ordinary encounters poisoned by racism ... In poems of solitary reflection, despair, and conviction, the speaker considers the eloquence of sighs and rejects the directive, \'Let it go.\' Accompanied by evocative images, Rankine’s arrestingly forthright, emotionally authentic, and artistically lithe inquiry induces us to question and protest every racial assault against our individual and collective humanity.
PositiveBooklistTreglown covers it all as he parses Hersey’s ability to write blazingly forthright and incisive accounts of the physical and psychological damage caused by violence and other abuses of power. Treglown’s meticulous, richly interpretative reevaluation revitalizes our appreciation for the intensity, volume, variety, daring, and “moral imagination” of Hersey’s work, and for how essential and transformative writing can be when it’s strong, brave, conscientious.
PositiveBooklistChapman revels in literary parody as his imperiled narrator describes his editorial coups and shares eyebrow-raising tales of his past ... Chapman’s bravura performance is piquant, rollicking, and richly provoking.
RaveBooklistEnsler’s transfixing, appalling, revelatory, and cathartic performance deepens her mission of transmuting her pain into clarion stories that engender understanding, openness, healing, and liberation.
RaveBooklist...[an] atmospheric drama of shock and despair ... In fresh and unpredictable scenes...Phillips’ spellbinding prose is saturated with sensuous nuance and emotional intensity as she subtly traces the shadows of Russia’s past and illuminates today’s daunting complexities of gender and identity, expectations and longing.
Gabriel García Márquez
RaveBooklistThis ensnaring volume gathers 50 incisive and surprising articles and essays published from 1950 to 1984, a small yet mighty sampling of his extensive nonfiction corpus. Here is García Márquez’s mastery of storytelling and sardonic humor, as well as evidence of his embrace of the absurd and the inexplicable and his fluency in offering the telling detail ... García Márquez is discerning, mesmerizing, and provocative.
RaveBooklist\"Reading City of Girls is pure bliss, thanks to its spirited characters, crackling dialogue, rollicking yet affecting story lines, genuinely erotic scenes, and sexual intelligence, suspense, and incisive truths. Gilbert’s beguiling blend of comedy and gravitas brings to mind other smart, funny, nimble, and vital novels about early- or mid-twentieth-century women swimming against the tide.\
RaveBooklistBlake’s breathtaking saga...begins in full with a lush, sweeping overture, though it carries its own kind of chilling undertow. Think Gershwin, Copeland, Ellington ... Blake saturates each scene with sensuous and emotional vibrancy while astutely illuminating sensitive moral quandaries ... Blake deftly interrogates the many shades of prejudice and \'the ordinary, everyday wickedness of turning away.\'
PositiveBooklistIn her first novel in a decade, Kirshenbaum reclaims her scepter as a shrewdly lacerating comedic writer, joining Sylvia Plath, Ken Kesey, Will Self, Ned Vizzini, Siri Hustvedt, and others in writing darkly funny and incisive fiction about life in a psychiatric hospital ward ... a veritable primer on depression.
RaveBooklistWith zeal for research and a gift for linguistic precision, Cep delves into Alabama’s history, tells the striking stories of all involved in this macabre saga, and chronicles Lee’s extensive investigation, including attending Burns’ trial and speaking with Radney and others touched by the killings. Yet Lee could never bring her book to fruition. Cep has vividly and insightfully retrieved a grimly fascinating true-crime story and done Lee justice in a fresh and compelling portrait of this essential American writer.
RaveBooklist... a magnetic novel about a marriage of giddy bliss and stratospheric anxiety, bedrock alliance and wrenching tectonic shifts ... covers this shifting terrain and its stormy weather in an exquisitely fine-tuned, journal-like account ... so precisely articulate that her perfect, simple sentences vibrate like violin strings. And she is mordantly funny, a wry taxonomist of emotions and relationships. Her dispatches from the fog of new motherhood are hilarious and subversive. Her cynical pursuit of self-improvement is painfully accurate. Her Richter-scale analysis of the aftershocks of infidelity is gripping. Nothing depicted in this portrait of a family in quiet disarray is unfamiliar in life or in literature, and that is the artistic magic of Offill’s stunning performance. She has sliced life thin enough for a microscope slide and magnified it until it fills the mind’s eye and the heart.
RaveBooklist...ingenious, reality-warping, darkly funny, and exquisitely composed story collection rooted in myth and horror ... Russell writes with mischievous clarity, wit, and conviction, grounding the most bizarre situations in the ordinary ... Heir to Shirley Jackson and a compatriot of T. C. Boyle, virtuoso Russell, gifted with acute insights, compassion, and a daring, free-diving imagination, explores the bewitching and bewildering dynamic between \'the voracious appetite of nature and its yawning indifference\' and humankind’s relentless profligacy and obliviousness.
RaveBooklistFull-tilt and fulminating satirist Shteyngart is mordant, gleeful, and embracive as he funnels today’s follies and atrocities into a devilishly hilarious, soul-shriveling, and all-too plausible vision of a ruthless and crass digital dystopia in which techno-addled humans are still humbled by love and death.
PositiveBooklistMcEwan, a master stylist, has the complex psychology of this extreme yet credible situation down pat, managing, too, to subtly transform the struggle between Joe and Jed into a life-or-death battle between reason and faith, rationality and madness. A clever, impeccable, and positively Hitchcockian psychological thriller.
RaveBooklist\"Bobrow-Strain... tells the dramatic true tale of a woman he calls Aida Hernandez with extraordinary clarity and power, while also providing deep background on the forces behind the tragically unjust immigration laws and procedures she battled ... Bobrow-Strain’s searing chronicle of Aida’s struggles to secure legal residency include the illuminating stories of her father, a 1960s revolutionary; social worker Rosie Mendoza; and Ema, a lesbian Ecuadoran immigrant. In this caring and unforgettable borderland saga, Bobrow-Strain reveals the profound personal toll of the immigration crisis.\
RaveBooklistRevoyr’s latest masterfully and intimately suspenseful tale of certain disaster...is fueled by volatile social conflicts in Los Angeles ... Shrewdly delineated scenes, loaded conversations, and a delirious surge of desire caustically expose the city’s toxic ruling-class legacy of prejudice and entitlement, while stoking questions of privilege, trust, and betrayal. Wealth and power, Revoyr confirms in this taut, commanding, and delectable novel, are not shields against folly, crime, or sorrow.
RaveBooklistIn his latest warmly engaging yet exacting chronicle of the damage caused by our reliance on fossil fuels, he exposes in appalling detail the lies and cover-ups orchestrated by carbon-industry executives and the political dominance of reckless billionaires who betray \'basic human solidarity.\' In contrast, he documents the promise of solar energy. At his most provocative, McKibben shares unnerving concerns about helter-skelter, potentially ruinous deployments of artificial intelligence and the advent of bioengineered humans. Ultimately, his primary focus in this deeply caring, eloquently reasoned inquiry into environmental and techno-utopian threats is on how we are imperiling the \'human game\'—that is, \'the entirety of our ceaseless activity\' as individuals and societies. Profoundly compelling and enlightening, McKibben balances alarm with hope as he celebrates the climate-change resistance movement and \'the human love that works to feed the hungry . . . that comes together in defense of sea turtles and sea ice, and of all else around us that is good.
RaveBooklistAsher, the third biographer to tackle Algren’s puzzling story, was the first to see the full documentation of the agency’s long surveillance of the outspoken writer and champion of the poor and disenfranchised, and that access enables him to bring a new perspective to the unconventional, righteously literary, and rough-and-tumble life of the author ... a vigorously detailed yet swiftly flowing narrative ... As he presents Algren as a seminal American writer focused on injustice in this captivating, redefining, and sharply relevant biography, Asher also reveals how the insidious abuse of power by the federal government destroys lives.
PositiveBooklist\"O’Nan elevates the routines and chores of quiet domesticity to a nearly heroic level in his lingering attention to details, from plumbing troubles to coupons, walking the dog, and all the preparations and disruptions of holiday gatherings. Like Richard Russo and Anne Tyler, O’Nan discerningly celebrates the glory of the ordinary in this pitch-perfect tale of the hidden everyday valor of a humble and good man.\
Robert A. Caro
RaveBooklistThis engrossing and unexpectedly moving essay collection fully illuminates why and how [Caro] has spent so many years working on his massive, contextually intricate, and courageous biographies of two towering figures ... In humorous, rueful, often flat-out astonishing anecdotes, he recounts his early newspaper days and the sense of mission that drove him, with the unshakable support of his historian wife and investigative partner, Ina ... As he elucidates his commitment to creating biographical history of conscience and resonance, Caro affirms the larger significance of factual precision, empathy, and expressive verve.
RaveBooklistDemick’s bracing chronicle of the horrific consequences of decades of brutality provide the context for the wrenching life stories of North Korean defectors who confided in Demick ... Strongly written and gracefully structured, Demick’s potent blend of personal narratives and piercing journalism vividly and evocatively portrays courageous individuals and a tyrannized state within a saga of unfathomable suffering punctuated by faint glimmers of hope.
RaveBooklist\"... brilliantly structured ... This is a novel of infinite depth, of caring authenticity both intimate and societal, of mothers and daughters, art and pain, and transcendent love.\
PositiveBooklistHemon chronicles with defining intensity, rueful self-critique, and piquant humor indelible revelations personal, cultural, and political ... incisive, masterfully crafted, and complexly affecting family stories ... Hemon writes with deft force, piercing observation, and commanding candor about the individual’s place within life’s web and the horrors and beauty of the human condition.
RaveBooklistTo lay the groundwork for understanding this massive die-off, Kolbert crisply tells the stories of such earlier losses as the American mastodon and the great auk and provides an orienting overview of evolutionary and ecological science. She then chronicles her adventures in the field with biologists, botanists, and geologists investigating the threats against amphibians, bats, coral, and rhinos. Intrepid and astute, Kolbert combines vivid, informed, and awestruck descriptions of natural wonders, from rain forests to the Great Barrier Reef, and wryly amusing tales about such dicey situations as nearly grabbing onto a tree branch harboring a fist-sized tarantula, swimming among poisonous jellyfish, and venturing into a bat cave; each dispatch is laced with running explanations of urgent scientific inquiries and disquieting findings. Rendered with rare, resolute, and resounding clarity, Kolbert’s compelling and enlightening report forthrightly addresses the most significant topic of our lives.
RaveBooklistIn this galvanizing memoir, [Forché] recounts her political awakening under fire with a poet’s lyrical acuity and a storyteller’s drama ... Forché recounts her frightening and transformative encounters with scorching specificity and portrays her brilliant and courageous mentor and other resistance fighters with wonder and gratitude. This clarion work of remembrance, this indelible testimony to a horrific battle in the unending struggle for human rights, justice, and peace, stands with the dispatches of Isabel Allende, Eduardo Galeano, Pablo Neruda, and Elena Poniatowska.
RaveBooklistThere’s a fair amount of spookiness in physics, and the language is seductively poetic. Freudenberger (The Newlyweds, 2012) is exceptionally conversant in this heady realm, and her obvious pleasure in physics...ensures that Helen is a mesmerizing narrator ... Freudenberger is spellbinding in her imaginative use of particle physics as a mirror of human entanglement and uncertainty ... As original as this deeply involving, substantial, suspenseful, and psychologically lush novel is, Freudenberger is in good company in her venture into the curious alignments among physics, memory, sorrow, and the fate of consciousness after death ... With daring, zest, insight, wit, and compassion, Lost and Wanted and its kindred novels gracefully and thrillingly bridge the divide between science and art.
RaveBooklistThe dynamics among these four determined and visionary individuals—and, for a spell, two married couples—are deeply intriguing in terms of gender expectations, the role of muse, the battle to establish photography as a fine art, and the quest to push painting into provocative new modes of expression. Extracting gems from vast caches of letters, Burke follows the foursome’s artistically and erotically intertwined lives in detail, revealing their distinctive temperaments and the inspiration and anguish of their supportive and competitive interactions. Burke succeeds in portraying iconic Stieglitz and O’Keeffe with fresh insight and in elucidating Strand’s elusiveness, while the least-known of the quartet, the \'daredevil\' called Beck, steals the show ... Burke’s expert and enthralling true saga illuminates key intimate and historical aspects of the lives of four extraordinarily creative, intrepid, and influential artists to profound effect.
RaveBooklistPatti Smith devotees know that she writes electrifying songs and spirited and spiritual poems, yet her first narrative book, a portrait of the artist as a young searcher times two, is a revelation. In a spellbinding memoir as notable for its restraint as for its lucidity, its wit as well as its grace, Smith tells the story of how she and Robert Mapplethorpe found each other ... With appearances by Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsberg, Sam Shepard, Johnny Winter, and many other intriguing and influential figures, Smith covers a remarkable swath of cultural and personal history in this beautifully crafted, vivid, and indelible look back. Readers can only hope that Smith will continue to tell her stories and share her visions
RaveBooklist\"Kotlowitz writes with masterful economy and concreteness, and from his meticulous narrative springs a rich spectrum of emotions like light reflecting off high-rise window ... Kotlowitz’s hard-hitting and powerfully clarifying dispatches bring into the light people who love their families and friends and who work hard to take care of others, yet who are undermined, betrayed, and brutalized by violence, racism, poverty, and an unconscionable lack of understanding, caring, resources, and social and political will.\
RaveBooklistGimlet-eyed Beattie has created a stunningly unnerving and provocative tale spiked with keen cultural allusions and drollery. This jarring dissection of privilege and anxiety, gender expectations, lust, ludicrous predicaments, defensive selfishness, moral confusion, and numbing loneliness projects a matrix of angst somewhat countered by the solace and sustenance found in a quiet life far from the grasping, hurried, hostile world.
RaveBooklistIn the present, Hustvedt’s sixtysomething narrator muses over her past, reaching back to wounding childhood moments, and ponders, with stirring lucidity, time, memory, self, and the role stories play in this quicksilver triad ... Various forms of detection, anchored to Hustvedt’s deep knowledge of neuroscience and art, propel this lusciously layered and suspenseful \'portrait of the artist as a young woman\' and rapier attack on sexism electric with wit, curiosity, and storytelling magic.
RaveBooklist\"The ever-incisive, wordly-wise, compassionate, and imaginative Eggers maintains the tension of a cocked crossbow in this magnetizing, stealthily wry, and increasingly chilling tale of First World corporate mercenaries way out of their element.\
RaveBooklistHempel reaffirms her diamond reputation as a writer of gorgeously distilled, archly witty, and daringly empathetic tales. Hempel’s forte is the inner monologue, which, in these 15 incisive stories, ranges in form from brief but reverberating prose poems to sustained tales saturated with evocative detail and evolving emotions ... Hempel is a master miniaturist, capturing in exquisitely nuanced sentences the sensuous, cerebral, and spiritual cascade of existence, homing in on pain and humor and the wisdom each can engender.
RaveBooklistIn her canny and spellbinding third novel, Gloss...combines a passion for history with a taste for fantasy and a witty assessment of sexual mores ... Not only has Gloss created an irresistible heroine, she considers our conflictful relationship with nature, misogyny, and what it really means to be alive without once compromising the heady pleasure of her suspenseful tale; and her prose is positively ambrosial.
RaveBooklistHoffman, a superb essayist and biographer, illuminates, in this precise and lively portrait, every contradictory element of Hecht’s rogue personality, protean artistry, and impact as a whirlwind activist calling for support of Nazi-besieged European Jews and the establishment of Israel. Each phase in Hecht’s adventures is electrifying ... Hoffman’s concentrated biography is smartly entertaining and revelatory.
RaveBooklistA tough, intrepid, scouring observer and vigilant thinker, [Jamison] generates startling and sparking extrapolations and analysis. On the prowl for truth and intimate with pain, Jamison carries forward the fierce and empathic essayistic tradition as practiced by writers she names as mentors, most resonantly James Agee and Joan Didion.
RaveBooklist...[a] sharp blade of a novel ... Toews’ eviscerating fictionalization of this incendiary reality focuses not on the violence but, rather, on the keen, subversive intelligence of the Mennonite women, their philosophical casts of mind, clashing personalities, and deep concerns about family and faith ... Toews’ knowing wit and grasp of dire subjects aligns her with Margaret Atwood, while her novel’s slicing concision and nearly Socratic dialogue has the impact of a courtroom drama or a Greek tragedy ... Toews’ clarifying novel will help further dismantle the toxic habits of sexism.
PositiveBooklistBusch writes about nature and culture with delving curiosity and fresh thinking ... Busch investigates the divide between our visible and inner selves in this zestfully perceptive \'field guide to invisibility.\' She describes wondrous strategies for concealment in the natural world, considers the role of invisibility in myths and the arts, shares personal experiences, and notes various ways in which we are rendered invisible for better or worse. Ultimately, Busch elegantly advocates for \'elective invisibility\' as a way of acquiring \'a more humanitarian view of the larger world.\' Eye-opening and inspiring.
RaveBooklistExhilarating and omnivorous ... [a] passionate and erudite pursuit of truth and beauty ... Popova presents uniquely discerning and strikingly candid interpretations of her subjects’ writings, private and published, and profiles their family, lovers, and peers ... Writing with an ardor for language and musing on chance, affinity, and our fear of change, Popova constructs an intricate biographical cosmos that is intellectually scintillating, artistically wondrous, and deeply affecting.
PositiveBooklist[An] incandescently imaginative and artful author ... offers fresh and illuminating analysis of the various styles and intentions of forewords ... Chabon devotees will relish his ensnaring essays for the insights they provide into his inspirations ... Of particular tenderness and grace is the prelude to his own novel Summerland.
Devi S Laskar
RaveBooklist\"Not only does Laskar bring her honed skills as a poet and journalist to her pulse-racing first novel about otherness and prejudice, she also draws on her own experience of a shocking raid on her home. Laskar’s bravura drama of one woman pushed to the brink by racism is at once sharply relevant and tragically timeless.\
PositiveBooklistVery polished and provocative ... inevitably troublesome philosophical, moral, and spiritual complications surface and multiply. As his high-strung, stubborn protagonist undergoes surprising metamorphoses, his high-anxiety quandaries embody the practice of deep analysis and interpretation intrinsic to Judaism. Englander is mischievously hilarious, nightmarish, suspenseful, inquisitive, and deliriously tender in this concentrated tale of tradition and improvisation, faith and love.
PositiveBooklistComedic and sorrowful ... quick-footed, perfectly choreographed, piercingly funny, and poignant ... s each articulate, conflicted, and ardent character endures life-altering experiences, Sthers incisively and provocatively questions crucial matters of religion, morality, inheritance, compassion, and love.
RaveBooklist[Lopez\'s] most encompassing, autobiographical, passionately detailed, and reflective book ... Prodigiously attentive out in the world and rigorous on the page, morally inquisitive and bracingly candid, Lopez pegs this expansive narrative to places that have special resonance for him ... Sharply attuned to the wonders and decimation of the living world, the endless assaults against indigenous people, and the daunting challenges of a changing climate, Lopez tells revelatory tales, poses tough questions, and shares wisdom, all while looking to the horizon.
PositiveBooklistDavis is a master of mind-whirling, arabesque fiction. This puzzle of pieces of time past, present, and future is an alternately funny and wistful tale of excursions across forbidding, pandemic-afflicted landscapes ... Davis has created a spooky, slippery, provocative, and elegiac fable in which amusingly fractious and poignantly imperiled pilgrims press on in a blasted world, destination unknown.
Linn Ullmann Trans. by Thilo Reinhold
PositiveBooklistFlickers like film threaded through a projector, shifting between dark and light, past and present, autobiography and fiction ... gracefully exquisite, sharply funny, and richly poignant reminiscences ... Ullmann’s homage to family, art, beauty, and love is resplendently vital, and enchantingly evocative.
RaveBooklist...generous ... stellar ... Sischy’s essays are vigorous and delectable ... For Sischy admirers, this is a treasure; for everyone interested in art journalism at its crisp, inquisitive, and resonant best, this is gospel.
PositiveBooklistAnolik now presents the full jaw-dropping drama of Babitz’s on-the-edge life and complicated personality, paired with an account of Anolik’s pursuit of her wily subject. With the recent reissue of Babitz’s books, this radical American writer of stunning verve, candor, and insight is truly a phoenix rising.
RaveBooklistShields has created a dawn-of-the-nuclear-age Cassandra in this galvanizing variation on the ancient Greek tale of a seer doomed always to be right, yet never to be believed. Shields summons the spirit of the besieged land in a heron, coyote, and rattlesnake who reveal, in surreal and terrifying visions, the horrors of the radiation contaminating the region and the hell to come in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mildred proves to be a woman of unnerving strength as she also contends with Hanford’s brutal racism, as witness, and endures sexual violence. Shields verges on overkill but offers satirically comedic scenes and satisfyingly venomous takedowns of the patriarchy, welcome flashes of light in this otherwise harrowing dive into the darkest depths of hubris and apocalyptic destruction. A uniquely audacious approach to the nuclear nightmare.
RaveBooklistMatching awe for the majestic intricacy and beauty of nature with exacting and alarming dispatches, Jamail calls on us to respect facts, honor life, and recognize that we are facing increasingly tragic disruptions and loss. Enlightening, heartbreaking, and necessary.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
RaveBooklistEnthralling ... Jhabvala was a spellbinding short story writer of fluid empathy, exceptional cross-cultural insight, and abiding respect for unconventional love ... a richly captivating, revelatory, and important collection.
PositiveBooklistMcCracken is a beloved bard of the eccentric, the misbegotten, and the unfathomable ... McCracken writes with exuberant precision, ingenious lyricism, satirical humor, and warmhearted mischief and delight. Though some otherworldly elements feel forced, McCracken is unerring in her spirited emotional and social discernment. This compassionate and rambunctious saga about love, grief, prejudice, and the courage to be one’s self chimes with novels by John Irving, Audrey Niffenegger, and Alice Hoffman.
RaveBooklistFleet-footed...brain-whirring ... Punctuated by clever dialogue and crisp social critiques, Barbash’s incisive, funny, and poignant portrait of talented people and a city in flux illuminates the risks of celebrity and the struggle to become one’s true self.
RaveBooklist[An] irresistible compendium of letter and diary excerpts from an array of voices .... West Coast match to New York Diaries (2012) is lushly rewarding.
Ed. by Annick Smith and Susan O'Connor
RaveBooklist... a simmering collection of 32 provocative and stunning works, along with photographs by Sebastião Salgado ... Ultimately, this profound and radiant volume reveals that hearths take many forms, including a book.
PositiveBooklistDeeply involving ... offers an illuminating perspective on the proceedings, adding to the mystery and power of Abramović’s life and performance, and engendering profound questions about the divide between artist and art, artist and audience, self and creativity, love and spirit. Rose’s emotionally rich and thought-provoking homage and inquiry should prompt readers to seek out Abramović’s dramatic memoir, Walk through Walls (2016).
RaveBooklistRivkin brings his sensibility and prowess as a poet and essayist to this unusually reflective, stealthily dramatic inquiry into the enigmatic life and work of artist Cy Twombly ... An extraordinarily involving, gorgeously written chronicle of art, controversy, fame, and the perils of biography.
RaveBooklistTrethewey’s genius for dovetailing the personal and the communal, the impressionistic and the factual...kicks off this magnificent new and selected collection ... Trethewey mines documents, scrutinizes paintings and photographs, and transforms concrete objects into engines of emotion and memories as she excavates her southern home ground and illuminates the lives of African Americans, especially women. Here are breathtaking persona poems ... For all the tragic, overlooked history Trethewey reclaims with clarion lyricism, it is her own family complexities and terrible loss that reverberate most. Monument is an essential volume of piercing wit, elegiac beauty, profound insights intimate and cultural, and the sustaining power of remembrance.
Karen E. Bender
RaveBooklistClosed spaces—elevators, offices, an airplane, classrooms—amplify the inner dramas of Bender’s watchful, anxious, feverishly expressive narrators in her second short story collection, following Refund. In the title story, in which two competitive friends abruptly part ways after a school shooting, the new order refers to the seating arrangement in a student orchestra, but the phrase takes on many shades of meaning as Bender’s characters navigate an array of unnerving situations ... With literary virtuosity, psychological authenticity, and breath-catching insight, Bender dramatizes gripping personal dilemmas compounded by a new order of social tyranny.
PositiveBooklist\"Tayari Jones muses on Toni Morrison, Veronica Chambers on Jamaica Kincaid, Marita Golden on Zora Neale Hurston. Other contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Stephanie Powell Watts, and N. K. Jemisin. Well-Read Black Girl Recommends reading lists covering various themes and genres add to the reach and radiance of this empowering literary resource.\
PositiveBooklistFranzen begins his fourth collection of personal essays with praise for how the form invites \'honest self-examination and sustained engagement with ideas,\' qualities he masterfully demonstrates in 16 thought-provoking narratives in which he flies against the prevailing winds of common assumptions and expectations. A birder, Franzen travels the world to add to his life list, a mission that enmeshes him in environmental conundrums as he celebrates the wondrous variety and beauty of avian species and seeks to understand the myriad threats against them.
PositiveBooklistWith low-key yet piercing humor, caustic observations balanced with compassion, and entrancing storytelling mojo, Thompson masterfully uncovers the contrary emotions surging beneath the flat, orderly landscapes and tidy homes of the Midwest ... As storms, gardens, and trees punctuate and embody the richly reverberating family drama Thompson so astutely orchestrates, she unflinchingly examines desire and resignation, death and inheritance, while tracing women’s generational struggles for genuine independence ... invites reflection and discussion.
RaveBooklist...[a] hypnotic and wrenching novel in verse ... Robertson transforms the long take into an epic taking of life, liberty, reason, and hope in this saga of a good man broken by war and a city savaged by greed, an arresting and gorgeously lyrical and disquieting tale of brutal authenticity, hard-won compassion, and stygian splendor.
RaveBooklist OnlineAn exquisite, suspenseful, and character-driven tale ... In an astute and enrapturing variation on Edith Wharton’s foundational Gilded Age novel, The House of Mirth (1905), Brown imaginatively, compassionately, and spellbindingly dramatizes timeless questions of survival and social conscience.
RaveBooklist\"[The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. 2] is a shattering chronicle of a woman’s struggle to be both a pathbreaking artist and a domestic paragon ... Together, these two volumes accentuate the wonder of all that Plath accomplished by age 30, and her poetry, fiction, journals, and letters will remain forever alive, daring, urgent, and electrifying.\
RaveBooklistA sharply imaginative, sweetly funny, tenderly uplifting fable. Divisive times call for unifying tales. Written in masterly King’s signature translucent style and set in one of his trademark locales, this uncharacteristically glimmering fairy tale calls unabashedly for us to rise above our differences ... Succinct, magical, timely.
Joyce Carol Oates
PositiveBooklistWhile in this clever, brain-twisting, Poe-like fable she looks to the past and the future to dramatize the vulnerability of the psyche, the fragility of freedom, and the catastrophic consequences of repressing intelligence, independence, and creativity, what Oates illuminates is the present ... Oates is always provocative, but this tensile dystopian tale will magnetize readers in a whole new mode.
RaveBooklistReaders familiar with novelist Harrison’s previous transfixing memoirs, from The Kiss (1997) to True Crimes (2016), may think that by now the well of stories about her Los Angeles childhood has run dry. Not so. It turns out that the lives of her maternal grandparents, who raised her as her young, profligate mother ran amok, are fairy-tale fascinating, profoundly revealing of cultural divisions, and brilliantly and wittily told as Harrison channels her young, inquisitive self.
PositiveBooklist\"When Phillips, a jazzy John McPhee, ventures out into the world in pursuit of understanding of a place, mystery, vocation, or obsession, he is attention incarnate. The resulting prismatic descriptions power his vibrant, multidimensional essays, which are built on rich veins of research and further enlivened with crisply recounted conversations and convivially self-deprecating glimpses into his state of mind.\
RaveBooklistDynamic, multidimensional, and heart-revving ... This laugh-and-cry tale of rollicking and wrenching drama set to the beat of thumping basketballs and the crack of baseball bats, fast breaks and cheerleaders’ chants, is electric with tension and conviction, and incandescent with unity and hope.
RaveBooklistGabriel not only provides vibrantly detailed accounts of these five exceptional avant-garde artists’ friendships and rivalries, affairs and marriages, doubt and despair, conviction and resilience; she also establishes a richly dimensional context for their struggles and innovations, delving into the impact on the arts and on women’s lives of the Great Depression, WWII, the atomic bomb, and the Cold War. Gabriel has created an incandescent, engrossing, and paradigm-altering art epic.
RaveBooklistIn her first book, a memoir as soulful, wryly witty, and lyrical as it is candid and courageous, Field recounts the prolonged abuse she survived by creating \'a safe place where I could toss all the feelings I didn’t understand.\' Field’s stoicism was rooted in her love for her mother, and it was her mother’s death that inspired this eye-opening and deeply affecting chronicle ... Arresting in its dark disclosures, vitality, humor, and grace, Field’s deeply felt...written memoir illuminates the experiences and emotions on which she draws as an exceptionally charismatic, empathic, and powerful artist.
PositiveBooklist\"When Max Brod, Kafka’s friend and tireless advocate, decided not to honor the writer’s request that he burn his papers upon his death in 1924, instead overseeing the publication of Kafka’s revolutionary work, he inadvertently catalyzed decades of legal skirmishes. Balint tracks them all with pinpoint detail and narrative drive, first bringing Kafka and Brod into focus as literary, German-speaking Jews in anti-Semitic Prague.
RaveBooklist\"...[a] kaleidoscopic and riveting mix of true crime, history, biography, and immersion journalism ... While her forensic account of the conflagration is eerily mesmerizing, Orlean is equally enthralling in her awestruck detailing of the spectrum of activities that fill a typical Central Library day, and in her profiles of current staff and former head librarians ... Probing, prismatic, witty, dramatic, and deeply appreciative, Orlean’s chronicle celebrates libraries as sanctuaries, community centers, and open universities run by people of commitment, compassion, creativity, and resilience.\
RaveBooklist\"...her most creatively conceived, deeply delving, and wizardly blend of biography and history to date ... Baker’s extensive research is seamlessly subsumed within the flow of her novelistic narrative as she brings to life landscapes magnificent and terrifying; volatile love affairs; seismic political turmoil; and gripping scenes of war. With a uniquely encompassing vision, command of complex information, and profound insight, Baker dramatically chronicles the seminal scientific and artistic explorations of four courageous, ingenious brothers whose achievements enrich our understanding of the still-molten, sharply relevant past.\
Anne Boyd Rioux
RaveBooklist Online...Award-winning Rioux marks the 150th anniversary of this...influential novel by telling its story whole. Noting the power of its authenticity, Rioux illuminates the parallels between the Alcotts and the fictional March family and marks just how intent war nurse and suffragette Louisa was on challenging gender roles ... Rioux’s...informed, multifaceted, ardently argued, and mind-expanding celebration of Little Women affirms its pleasures and significance as a tale ripe for reconsideration and recommendation to YA and adult readers across the gender spectrum.
RaveBooklist\"...[an] exceptionally involving and rewarding novel ... Kingsolver alternates between Willa’s droll reflections on her ever-worsening predicament, and Thatcher’s on his, subtly linking their equally compelling, alternating narratives with a repeated phrase or echoed thought, a lovely poetic device that gently punctuates the parallels between these two times of uncertainty ... There is much here to delight in and think about while reveling in Kingsolver’s vital characters, quicksilver dialogue, intimate moments, dramatic showdowns, and lushly realized milieus ... Kingsolver insightfully and valiantly celebrates life’s adaptability and resilience, which includes humankind’s capacity for learning, courage, change, and progress.\
RaveBooklist...a writer of extraordinary psychological acuity and crisp wit ... [a] riveting tale of friends who protested the Vietnam War ... Mattison’s engrossing exploration of diverse matters of conscience is dynamic, precise, many-layered, funny, ambushing, and provocative as she marvels over how contradictory we are.
RaveBooklist\"In this staggering tale of loss intimate and ecological, Geni joins T. C. Boyle, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, and Hannah Tinti in portraying humankind as both the planet’s most dangerous predator and one of myriad species vulnerable to ecodisasters of our own unintended devising. Riveting, provocative, and unforgettable.\
RaveBooklistBest-selling science journalist Quammen...precisely and vividly explains how these [various scientific] findings have \'tangled\' the tree ... telling a dramatic, many-limbed tale of courageous theorists and assiduous experimentalists, all portrayed with zest in short, punchy chapters ... With humor, clarity, and exciting accounts of breakthroughs and feuds, Quammen traces the painstaking revelation of life’s truly spectacular complexity.
RaveBooklist\"Weinman points out the many parallels between the novel and Sally’s life (so cruelly shortened after her rescue—she was just 15 when she died), while chronicling Nabokov’s own cross-country journeys, writing habits, and denial of the Horner connection. Weinman’s sensitive insights into Horner’s struggle play in stunning counterpoint to her illuminations of Nabokov’s dark obsession and literary daring, and Lolita’s explosive impact.\
RaveBooklist\"Mosley is at his commanding, comfort-zone-blasting best in this heady tale of a fugitive genius. His hero’s lectures are marvels of intellectual pyrotechnics and provocative inquiries; intense sex scenes raise questions about gender roles and intimacy; and John Woman’s increasingly drastic predicament and complex moral quandary precipitate arresting insights into race, freedom, power, and the stories we tell to try to make sense of the ceaseless torrent of human conflict and desire.\
RaveBooklist\"Shteyngart’s storytelling is otherwise electric in its suspense and mordant hilarity; his characters are intriguingly and affectingly complex, and, while the action never stops, he still digs deeply into our perceptions of self and family, lies and truth, ambition and success, greed and generosity, love and betrayal, and, most touchingly, what we deem normal and how we respond to differences. Lake Success is a big, busy, amusing, needling, and outraging novel, one to revel in and argue with ... For all his caustic critique and propulsive plotting, Shteyngart is a writer of empathic imagination, ultimately steering this bristling, provocative, sharply comedic, yet richly compassionate novel toward enlightenment and redemption.\
William T. Vollmann
RaveBooklist...Refused interviews by fuel-industry executives and U.S. Department of Energy staff, Vollmann portrays individuals who have endured intimidation to speak out against the \'callous villainies\' of fuel corporations. Unflinching, exacting, and forthright, Vollmann brings abiding respect, empathy, and tenderness to this endeavor, both documenting the fuel industry’s betrayal of hardworking people and recognizing \'the stubbornly irrational component in human affairs.\' Invaluable, enlightening, and heartrending testimony to how enmeshed we all are in the carbon-industrial complex and accelerated climate change.
RaveBooklist...a diabolically smart and funny assault against the literary establishment and the tacit assumption that only men can write the Great American Novel. As Joan recounts the misery she and her fellow writers’ wives endure, popular and shrewd novelist Wolitzer choreographs her ire into kung-fu precision moves to zap our every notion about gender and status, creativity and fame, individuality and marriage, deftly exposing the injustice, sorrow, and sheer absurdity of it all.
RaveBooklistThe solidly yet intricately constructed short stories and novellas of Dubus (1936–99) vibrate with a provocative intensity of place, predicament, thought, and feeling. Each is an intimate, unnerving drama of the everyday conflicts between dream and reality, spirit and desire ... In each surprising tale, Dubus, equally empathic in portraying women and men, tackles with supreme candor, precision, artistry, and valor the full emotional and moral weight of love, marriage, adultery, friendship, parenthood, ambition, selfishness, and loneliness, subtly critiquing social mores versus questions of self and faith. Dubus explores everything from a young woman’s struggle with conformity to the tough revelations of a young man’s military training, while three linked novellas about two young Massachusetts couples are magnificently explosive in their bold psychological, erotic, and moral complexity.
RaveBooklistThe solidly yet intricately constructed short stories and novellas of Dubus (1936–99) vibrate with a provocative intensity of place, predicament, thought, and feeling. Each is an intimate, unnerving drama of the everyday conflicts between dream and reality, spirit and desire ... In each surprising tale, Dubus, equally empathic in portraying women and men, tackles with supreme candor, precision, artistry, and valor the full emotional and moral weight of love, marriage, adultery, friendship, parenthood, ambition, selfishness, and loneliness, subtly critiquing social mores versus questions of self and faith. Dubus explores everything from a young woman’s struggle with conformity to the tough revelations of a young man’s military training, while three linked novellas about two young Massachusetts couples are magnificently explosive in their bold psychological, erotic, and moral complexity.
Laura Van Den Berg
PositiveBooklist Online\"...[a] brooding, often-surreal, funereally bemusing second novel ... In sync with Vendela Vida’s The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty (2015), van den Berg’s entrancing, gorgeously enigmatic tale dramatizes the narcosis of grief.\
PositiveBooklistDybek has created a carefully constructed, deeply inquisitive, and broodingly romantic tale of mourning resonant with judicious echoes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald and spiked with piquant insights into the loss, longing, and delusion rampant in the haunting aftermath of war.
RaveBooklist\"While others have established a historical context for today’s political polarization, none has so meticulously excavated the conceptual strata ... Kakutani has issued an elegantly well-argued and profoundly illuminating call to protest.\
RaveBooklist...an especially lithe and enlivening tale ... Tyler’s bedazzling yet fathoms-deep feel-good novel is wrought with nimble humor, intricate understanding of emotions and family, place and community—and bounteous pleasure in quirkiness, discovery, and renewal.
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Trans. by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson
RaveBooklistA brilliant and imaginative satirist and a contemporary of Chekhov and Maupassant, he is unknown to most American readers. That will change with the release of this monumental volume. A towering achievement in translation, it presents all of Machado de Assis’ stories in English for the first time, and it is a treasury of wily, captivating, ironic, revealing, and exuberant tales of Brazilian life and human folly. These stories are vital; their social particulars striking, even shocking... Machado de Assis’ stories belong in every world-fiction collection.
William T. Vollmann
RaveBooklistVigilant in his precision, open-mindedness, and candor, Vollmann takes on global warming, elucidating the science used to measure the impact of carbon-based fuels and nuclear energy on the atmosphere and Earth, and analyzing the \'ideologies,\' or assertions, that keep the energy industries churning, no matter the consequences. Vollmann provides an extensive, richly sourced \'primer\' of mind-seizing quantifications about greenhouse gases emitted by agriculture, transportation, power plants, and manufacturing, vividly conveyed information matched by arresting enumerations of negligence and malfeasance ... His poignant conversations with nuclear refugees, unnerving visits to contaminated towns, telling photographs, and stubborn attempts to measure radiation all attest to the terror, sorrow, and eerie normalization of this ongoing disaster. Vollmann’s careful descriptions, touching humility, molten irony, and rueful wit, combined with his addressing readers in \'the hot dark future,\' make this compendium of statistics, oral history, and reportage elucidating, compelling, and profoundly disquieting.
RaveBooklist...a book of adeptly interlocked tales ... As Millet makes exceptionally potent use of the linked-stories form, her writing is razor-edged, her comedy at once caustic and compassionate, and her insights agile.
David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
PositiveBooklist…a personification of unconventionality, multimedia visionary David Lynch has combined memoir with biography to forge a strikingly multidimensional portrait of the artist. Coauthor McKenna, a journalist who has known Lynch for decades, presents the facts along with forthright recollections gleaned from extensive interviews with Lynch’s family, ex-wives, friends, and colleagues … incandescently detailed and complexly enlightening chronicle of a fervent, uncompromising life devoted to \'pure creativity\'
RaveBooklistShe visits \'painted\' gardens by Monet, Bonnard, and Van Gogh, as well as diverse fictional gardens, including those conjured by Beatrix Potter, Virginia Woolf, and Edith Wharton. Lively also looks to gardens as indicators of social standing, tracks garden fashions, confesses her addiction to fuchsias, and zestfully critiques the writings of influential English garden designers, including Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson. Erudite, witty, and irreverent, Lively darts ebulliently from topic to topic like a bee among blossoms.
Fatima Farheen Mirza
RaveBooklistMirza’s debut novel, extraordinary in its depth and diligence ... adeptly revisits painful dilemmas from each narrator’s perspective, revealing jolting secrets. Each complex, surprising character struggles with faith, responsibility, racism, fear, longing, and jealousy, while Mirza conveys with graceful specificity the rhythms of Muslim life, from prayer to wearing hijab, gender etiquette, food, holidays, and values, all of which illuminate universal quandaries about family, self, culture, beliefs, and generational change.
RaveBooklistPhillips’ hypnotic interpretation of the first half of Gwen’s life is riddled with strategic lacunae, so that the sudden mention of her writing cracks the bitter gloom like a lightning bolt. Phillips’ bravura, empathic, and unnerving performance makes the real-world achievement of his muse all the more surprising and significant.
RaveBooklistIn this free-roaming history of libraries, Kells, well read, well traveled, ebullient, and erudite, relishes tales of innovation, obsession, and criminality ... scintillating, often irreverant ... Kells’ revelatory romp through the centuries cues us to the fact that, as has so often been the case, libraries need our passionate attention and support, our advocacy, gratitude, and (given Kells’ tales of book-kissing, including Coleridge pressing his lips to his copy of Spinoza) love.
Julia Van Haaften
RaveBooklistVan Haaften...chronicles Abbott’s demanding life and extraordinary accomplishments with scrupulous detail ... Van Haaften’s expert foundational biography brings Abbott into sharp focus as a photographer able to \'express deep feeling through technical mastery.\'
RaveBooklistWith convincing intensity and a charming mix of wit, gruesomeness, magic, and romance in the spellbinding mode of Alice Hoffman, Fine offers a provocative fairy tale about womanhood under siege and one young woman’s fierce resistance.
RaveBooklistPollan’s complexly elucidating and enthralling inquiry combines fascinating and significant history with daring and resonant reportage and memoir, and looks forward to a new open-mindedness toward psychedelics and the benefits of diverse forms of consciousness.
RaveBooklistBy investigating the ways presidents have faced crises, Meacham, whose shining, cogent prose carries in its swift current mind-opening quotes from myriad sources, freshly defines the \'soul of America\' ... This engrossing, edifying, many-voiced chronicle, subtly propelled by concern over the troubled Trump administration, calls on readers to defend democracy, decency, and the common good.
RaveBooklist\"Ondaatje’s gorgeous, spellbinding prose is precise and lustrous, witty, and tender. As the painful truth of this fractured family emerges and Rose’s riveting story takes center stage, Ondaatje balances major and minor chords, sun and shadow, with masterful grace beautifully concentrated in \'warlight,\' his term for the sparest possible illumination during the city’s defensive blackouts ... Ondaatje’s drolly charming, stealthily sorrowful tale casts subtle light on secret skirmishes and wounds sustained as war is slowly forged into peace.\
RaveBooklist\"McLain has perfected her dramatic and lyrical approach to biographical fiction, lacing Marty’s ardent inner life into electrifying descriptions of place and action ... McLain brings forth the deepest, most ringing elements of both \'love and ruin,\' the two poles of Marty and Ernest’s tempestuous relationship, a ferocious contest between two brilliant, willful, and intrepid writers. McLain’s fast-moving, richly insightful, heart-wrenching, and sumptuously written tale pays exhilarating homage to its truly exceptional and significant inspiration.\
RaveBooklist\"For all the vital, sensuous, enrapturing descriptions that engender a powerful sense of presence, this is also a contemplation of absence and solitude as Hampl tenderly contends with the sudden death of her husband. An exquisite anatomy of mind and an incandescent reflection on nature, being, and rapture.\
PositiveBooklistWith both resonant detail and purposeful distillation, Barnet tells their dramatic stories within the context of the counterculture of 50 years ago, charts the ongoing vitality and influence of their compassionate visions, and asks if we will yet accomplish what these four 'accidental revolutionaries' call on us to do to preserve the web of life.
RaveBooklist\"Thrillingly quick-footed, Young’s poems are also formally intricate and fully loaded with history, protest, and emotion as he writes of racial injustice.\
RaveBooklist\"Romy, Kushner has created a seductive narrator of tigerish intensity whose only vulnerability is her young son ... Rooted in deeply inquisitive thinking and executed with artistry and edgy wit, Kushner’s dramatic and disquieting novel investigates with verve and compassion societal strictures and how very difficult it is to understand each other and to be truly free.\
Tracy K Smith
RaveBooklist\"Poetry requires acts of exquisite selection and distillation that Smith, poet laureate of the United States, performs with virtuosity and passion throughout her profoundly affecting fourth collection ... The sacred and the malevolent are astutely juxtaposed in this beautifully formed, deeply delving, and caring volume.\
PositiveBooklistHalpern (A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home, 2013), a master of precise, warmhearted creative nonfiction and a discerning and sensitive novelist, infuses this tale of derailments and second chances with free-ranging empathy, lithe humor, and penetrating insights into the human psyche ... The adversity-defined perspectives and piquant senses of humor possessed by Halpern’s irresistible characters shape this inclusively appealing novel’s searingly candid yet ultimately benevolent worldview. Finely choreographed and lucidly told, Halpern’s uplifting tale peers into suffering both random and inflicted with malice, then works its way with wisdom and charm to an unfazed celebration of supportive communities—epicenters of kindness and teasing, skepticism and respect, nosiness and generosity, backed by a low-key affirmation of just how essential public libraries—oases, bedrocks, incubators, launching pads—are to our lives, our democracy, and our future.
RaveBooklist\"With the word ferocity appearing with satisfying frequency, Dean presents shrewd, discerning, fresh, and crisply composed interpretations of the temperaments, experiences, and sophisticated trailblazing works of these gutsy and transformative thinkers.\
RaveBooklistBraverman daringly, ravishingly, and resoundingly dramatizes the profound consequences of delusions, lies, ignorance, anger, cruelty, poverty, disappointment, conformity, inebriation, and violence with high imagination, sensual precision, cutting humor, and bracing insight.
PositiveBooklistDespite some forced notes, Lombardo has created an exuberantly cartoonish, incisive, and suspenseful tale of an erupting city and an earnest 'street scholar' intent on making us 'see the writing on the walls.'
RaveBooklistA virtuoso at parallel narratives, concurrent micro and macro perspectives, and the meshing of feelings, facts, and ideas, Powers draws on his signature fascination with the consequences, intended and otherwise, of science and technology as he considers the paradox of our ongoing assaults against nature in spite of all the evidence indicating impending disasters ... Powers’ sylvan tour de force is alive with gorgeous descriptions; continually surprising, often heartbreaking characters; complex suspense; unflinching scrutiny of pain; celebration of creativity and connection; and informed and expressive awe over the planet’s life force and its countless and miraculous manifestations. Powers elevates ecofiction ... The Overstory and its brethren seed awareness and hope.
Tatyana Tolstaya, Trans. by Anya Migdal
RaveBooklistPraised by Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky (1940–96) as \'the most original, tactile, luminous voice in Russian prose,\' Tolstaya, two decades on, is all that and more in this edgy, brash, slyly surreal, and mordantly funny short story collection, which begins with the sudden awakening of a woman’s literary imagination, an inherited gift ... Tolstaya’s daring, masterful stories, crisply translated, glint and whirl with extraordinary dimension and force.
RaveBooklist\"Incantatory, maddening, brilliant, zestful, compassionate, and timely, Tillman’s portrait of a floundering academic trying to make sense of a digitized world of churning, contradictory messages reveals the perpetual interplay between past and present, the personal and the cultural, image and life.\
RaveBooklist\"Within this relentless work of self-scrutiny, Jamison also conducts a meticulously researched, richly nuanced, and sensitive inquiry into the lives of now-legendary alcoholic writers ... Jamison’s questing immersion in intoxication and sobriety is exceptional in its vivid, courageous, hypnotic telling; brilliant in its subtlety of perception, interpretation, and compassion; and capacious in its scholarship, scale, concern, and mission.\
David Cay Johnston
RaveBooklistJohnston’s well-sourced and knowledgeable account chronicles exactly how cabinet secretaries and their staffs are dismantling protection of everything from worker safety to fair banking policies, veteran’s benefits, and affordable education, while purging diplomats and scientists, especially those studying climate change ... This precise and fiery indictment of an unstable, unethical president concludes with a call for us to defend our democracy, a system of 'compromise, cooperation, and caring.'
RaveBooklistHis latest mysterious, mesmerizing, and insightful fairy tale is an imaginative and tender tribute to his late brother, who had Down syndrome ... Each strange, touch-and-go encounter on their poignant and demanding journey reveals the contrariness of human nature, especially as people respond to the unusual boy. Ball’s mind-bending, gorgeously well told, and profoundly moving fable celebrates a father’s love for his son, whose quintessence is to inspire people to be their better selves.
RaveBooklistMatthews spins a mighty operational web replete with exacting tradecraft and horrific violence. His descriptive precision is breathtaking; the sparring between his vividly realized characters is devilishly clever. With nail-biting suspense, scorching eroticism, dark wit, lashing contempt for politicians dismissive of intelligence work, and fury over Russia’s disinformation campaigns, this is a riveting and knowing dramatization of today’s clandestine geopolitical conflicts.
RaveBooklist\"Via Hick’s crisp delivery and fluency in telling detail, Bloom uncloaks the insidious treacheries girls and women face, poor and privileged alike ... novel of extraordinary magnetism and insight; this keen celebration of love, loyalty, and sacrifice.\
RaveBooklistRage and hilarity form a dynamic symbiosis in Aliu’s debut novel ... Aliu is spectacularly funny and deeply insightful. With all-the-way-live characters, vigorous observations, combative dialogue, bravado metaphors, and ninja parsing of social class, immigrant struggles, bad behavior, and stubborn hope, Aliu has created a boldly witty and astute inquiry into the nature-versus-nurture debate, the inheritance of pain, and the dream of transcendence.
PositiveBooklist\"Goldberg follows his delirious Stalin-era satire, The Yid (2016), with an qually caustic send-up of today\'s brand of authoritarianism ...With allusions to Gogol...impishly comedic Goldberg?peer to Tom Wolfe, Leslie Epstein, and Stanley Elkin?cannily burlesques the toxicity of human folly uynder Trump and Putin.\
RaveBooklistO’Farrell’s intrepidness and determination are awe-inspiring, her experiences overwhelming, and her writing impeccable. This is a memoiristic tour de force.
RaveBooklist\"...[a] vital, heady, landmark compendium. Amis writes with buoyant and cutting authority. His vocabulary, cross-pollinated by his trans-Atlantic reading and life, is pinpoint and peppery; his syntax supple and ensnaring. The pleasure Amis takes in observation, cogitation, and composition is palpable, and he is acidly funny. His literary analysis...is commanding and enlightening, while he brings his novelist’s sensibility to politics, especially in his unnervingly prescient assessment of Trump’s wobbly mental health during the 2016 campaign. In considering Vegas, tennis, Jane Austen films, and personal milestones, Amis writes with agility, spirit, artistry, and a shrewd sense of the deepest implications.\
RaveBooklistReaders will never take coffee for granted or overlook the struggles of Yemen after ingesting Egger’s phenomenally well-written, juggernaut of a tale of an intrepid and irresistible entrepreneur on a complex and meaningful mission. This highly caffeinated adventure story is ready-made for the big screen.
RaveBooklistA stunning first novel about faith and yearning in the crucible of a strained marriage and a brief affair ...The lyric cadence of Quatro’s writing gets into one’s veins as she stealthily transforms the most common of plotlines into a scorching analysis of the ‘agony of temptation,’ prayer, the relationship between Eros and the divine, and a ‘renewed sense of holiness.’ Maggie longs for a ‘return to a viable literature of faith.’ Quatro infuses that tradition with fresh, molten energy.”
RaveBooklist...[a] bewitching and provocative novel ... Aligned in her artistic command, imagination, and deep curiosity about the human condition with Nicole Krauss, Dara Horn, and Stacey D’Erasmo, Benjamin asks what we want out of life. Duration? Success? Meaning? Who do we live for? Do our genes determine our path? How does trauma alter us? Benjamin has created mesmerizing characters and richly suspenseful predicaments in this profound and glimmering novel of death’s ever-shocking inevitability and life’s wondrously persistent whirl of chance and destiny.
RaveBooklistA master of emotional precision and breakneck plots, Boyle also has a gift for light-touch speculative fiction, conjuring an eerie, genetically modified suburb in the hilariously caustic 'Are We Not Men?' In the title story, a divorced father fails his teenage daughter by becoming addicted to a device that turns obsessing over one’s past into a diabolical malady ... all are portrayed with empathic imagination, acid social critique, and commanding artistry. Boyle’s substantial collection is funny, disarming, and crushing, haunting and beautiful.
RaveBooklistA meshing of memoir and invention, it snares with virtuoso precision both nature’s constant vibrancy and the stop-action of illness. Told in short takes pulsing with life and rueful wit ... Gradually the spy and the man on the porch merge, and the resilient yet reconciled narrator celebrates family love beneath a full moon in the farewell beauty of twilight. A gorgeously courageous and sagacious coda to Shepard’s innovative and soulful body of work.
RaveBookPage...[a] gripping and unnerving book ... Entwining affecting personal revelations with jolting governmental disclosures, declaring that Stanley Kubrick’s infamous nuclear-weapons satire, Dr. Strangelove (1964), 'was, essentially, a documentary,' and citing our tense standoff with North Korea, Ellsberg concludes his dramatic elucidation of how the nuclear arsenal endangers all of life on Earth with steps for dismantling this Doomsday Machine. A must-read of the highest order, Ellsberg’s profoundly awakening chronicle is essential to our future.
RaveBooklistIn classic rom-com style, Pearl’s titular protagonists collide at an Ann Arbor, Michigan, bowling alley, where stoned and brokenhearted college student Lizzie manages to irredeemably sabotage dental-school freshman George’s dream date and near-perfect game. The novel spins back to reveal this fated couple’s diametrically different childhoods … Through knotty predicaments both sorrowful and hilarious, Pearl dramatizes a complicated and deeply illuminating union of opposites and conducts profound inquiries into the self, family, empathy, and love. The result is a charming, edgy, and many-faceted novel of penetrating humor and resonant insight.
RaveBooklistIn this feverish cautionary tale, Erdrich enters the realm of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Emily Schultz’s The Blondes (2015), Edan Lepucki’s California (2014), Laura van den Berg’s Find Me (2015), and Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold, Fame, Citrus (2015), infusing her masterful, full-tilt dystopian novel with stinging insights into the endless repercussions of the Native American genocide, hijacked spirituality, and the ongoing war against women’s rights. A tornadic, suspenseful, profoundly provoking novel of life’s vulnerability and insistence.
RaveBooklistIn this crisp, scintillating, amusing, and affecting memoir, Anne incisively and lovingly portrays her brilliantand vital father and brings into fresh focus the dynamic world of twentieth-century books and America’s discovery of wine.
RaveBooklistAllende, as effervescent in her compassion, social concerns, and profound joy in storytelling as ever, brings both humor and intensity to this madcap, soulful, and transporting tale of three survivors who share their traumatic pasts while embarking on a lunatic mission of mercy ... Allende has a rare and precious gift for simultaneously challenging and entrancing readers by dramatizing with startling intimacy such dire situations as the desperation behind illegal immigration and domestic violence, then reveling, a page later, in spiritual visions or mischievous sexiness or heroic levity.
RaveBooklistThe first in a foundational two-book inquiry into the unusually sunny life and exuberantly radical work of sculptor Alexander Calder … Graced with 400 photographs, Perl’s dynamic and illuminating biography, as buoyant and evocative as Calder’s sculptures, concludes with the ebullient and cosmic artist poised for ever more creative adventures and renown.
RaveBooklist...[an] assiduously researched and riveting biography ... Bannos tacks between fully chronicling Maier’s fiercely independent and creatively intrepid life and thoroughly investigating the sale of her photographs and the questions raised about who has the right to profit from them ... aking measure of the barriers women face, Bannos portrays Maier as nothing less than a consummate, prolific, world-traveling, uncompromising, and fearless artist.
RaveBooklistTogether their tales form a jarring and haunting choral work of remembrance and pragmatism, pride and regret ... Garcia, a transcendentally imaginative, piquantly satiric, and profoundly compassionate novelist, dramatizes the helter-skelter of lives ruptured by tyranny, war, and political upheavals with sharp awareness of unlikely multicultural alliances ... With echoes of W. G. Sebald and Günter Grass, Garcia has created an intricate, sensitive, and provocative montage revolving around the question: 'Do people remember only what they can endure, or distort memories until they can endure them?'
Cristina De Stefano, Trans. by Marina Harss
RaveBooklistIn this meticulous, perceptive, and dramatic portrait, De Stefano reveals the full intensity and sensitivity of a trailblazing warrior writer.
RaveBooklistIn her ambushing and revealing memoir, beloved novelist Tan chronicles with striking candor, sharp wit, and storytelling magic stranger-than-fiction traumas ... In this year of intense literary memoirs, including Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and Richard Ford’s Between Them, Tan’s is electric with her forensic curiosity and extraordinary ability to extract from suffering startling insights into the mind-body connection, inheritance, memory, and creativity. A profound work of endless fascination, discovery, and compassion.
RaveBooklistAtlas relays all with wry hilarity, bighearted candor, and effervescent passion for the art of literary biography, from the toils and thrills of research to the lonely struggles of distillation, interpretation, and composition ... Atlas’ expert, provocative, and enlightening 'biographer’s tale' is a work of both depth and radiance.
PositiveBooklistSmith, a contemplative writer of gratitude and reverence who names her muses in poems, memoirs, and songs, deepens her inquiry into the nature of inspiration in this slender, trenchant volume ... Gracefully improvisational, as always, Smith offers an unusually poetic, mystical, and transfixing perspective on the mystery of literary creation.
RaveBooklistLike Dennis Lehane, Egan has combined insightful historical fiction with emotionally rich crime fiction to create a riveting and provocative investigation into the human condition. For all her keen attunement to social metamorphosis, what is most engrossing is Egan’s charting of the psychological eddies and storms that shape her irresistibly stubborn, risk-seeking characters ... Ultimately, Egan’s propulsive, surprising, ravishing, and revelatory saga, a covertly profound page-turner that will transport and transform every reader, casts us all as divers in the deep, searching for answers, hope, and ascension.
Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns
RaveBooklistWith the combined impact of robustly detailed writing and more than 500 staggering photographs, Ward and Burns thoroughly chronicle horrific combat and relentless bombing missions, the mass deployment of napalm and Agent Orange, the suffering and death of civilians, the resiliency of North Vietnamese forces, and the powerful antiwar movement. The eye-opening stories of key public figures, from Ho Chi Minh and Ngo Dinh Diem to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, are matched by those of 'ordinary' people, including American and South and North Vietnamese soldiers and their families; an American doctor POW; a woman field nurse; a young, long-separated North Vietnamese couple; antiwar activists, including war veterans; and Vietnamese refugees. With reflections by prominent journalists and writers, including Philip Caputo and Viet Thanh Nguyen, this is a vivid, affecting, definitive, and essential illustrated history.
RaveBooklistIn this enveloping, emotionally intricate, suspenseful drama, McDermott lures readers into her latest meticulously rendered Irish American enclave, returning to early twentieth-century Brooklyn ... Like Alice Munro, McDermott is profoundly observant and mischievously witty, a sensitive and consummate illuminator of the realization of the self, the ravages of illness and loss, and the radiance of generosity. As she considers the struggles of women, faith and inheritance, sacrifice and passion, she pays vivid tribute to the skilled and sustaining sisters, a fading social force. McDermott’s extraordinary precision, compassion, and artistry are entrancing and sublime.
RaveBooklist...what begins as a clever and larky tale, all shimmers and sparks, then evolves into a suspenseful drama of profound dimensions. MacArthur Fellow Scott, a novelist of wit and daring, creates fresh and compelling characters and nimbly spans decades as she delves into the struggles of women in a blatantly sexist world ... Scott’s dynamic and provocative novel offers arresting insights into moral dilemmas at the intersection of the personal and the societal.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesCool-headed, with nerves of steel, Jan undertakes missions as suspenseful as the plot of any top-notch thriller. Antonina, exhibiting equal grace under pressure, and even more vulnerable after the birth of their daughter, survives more than her share of terrifying encounters with Nazis … It is no stretch to say that this is the book Ackerman was meant to write...Every rapturous hour she has spent communing with plants and animals, every insight gleaned into human nature, every moment under the spell of language is a steppingstone that led her to Poland, the home of her maternal grandparents, and to the incomparable heroes Jan and Antonina Zabinski. The result of her tenacious research, keen interpretation and her own ‘transmigration of sensibility’ is a shining book beyond category.
RaveBooklistEight crisply instructive and drolly self-deprecating essays [are] gathered here in this exceptionally entertaining and illuminating book . . . [Draft No. 4] is expert, charming, and invigorating.
PositiveBooklistAs both seekers end up alone in the desert, Epstein in ecstasy, Nicole in wonder-struck peril, Krauss reflects with singing emotion and sagacity on Jewish history; war; the ancient, plundered forests of the Middle East; and the paradoxes of being. A resounding look at the enigmas of the self and the persistence of the past.
RaveBooklistBy virtue of his exceptional observational and analytical powers, acute emotional and moral exactitude, and charmingly rueful sense of humor, he turns in a riveting and incandescent chronicle of personal evolution vividly set within the ever-morphing, cocaine-stoked crucible of ferocious ambition that was 1980s Manhattan. He tells tales of the forging of a marriage; of nightmarish apartment battles with verminous hordes; of fortuitous jobs at museums, men’s fashion magazines, and a book publisher; and of bonds developed with critic Robert Hughes, artist Jeff Koons, and, most profoundly, photographer Richard Avedon. Arabesque, captivating, self-deprecating, and affecting, Gopnik’s cultural and intimate reflections, in league with those of Alfred Kazin and Joan Didion, are rich in surprising moments and delving perceptions into chance, creativity, character, style, conviction, hard work, and love.
Donna M. Lucey
RaveBooklist...Lucey vividly reveals the hidden truths of their tumultuous lives, while also succinctly telling the artist’s own intriguing story ... Lucey’s portrait of 'mercurial' and 'brazen' Isabella Stewart Gardner, the best known of the quartet, is as fresh and revelatory as Sargent’s scandalous painting as she recounts Gardner’s zeal for art collecting and her unique home museum. Lucey’s superlative group portrait, rendered in crystal-clear prose, is spring-fed by her immersion in vast archives of letters and diaries, her pilgrimages to the extraordinary places that shaped her subjects’ lives, and her keen insights into what drove these women to break out of their gilded cages.
RaveBooklistRushdie’s galvanizing epic of the fall of civilizations attacked from within is spiked with references to ancient Greece and Rome, the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and a litany of recent American mass and police shootings and other horrific crimes. It is also electric with literary echoes from Homer, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, and Fitzgerald, and vivid with cinematic tributes to Buñuel, Bergman, and Hitchcock. This contextual amplitude is matched by narrative complexity as René experiments with different approaches to a story that is forever intensifying ... There is a scorching immediacy and provocation to Rushdie’s commanding tragedy of the self-destruction of a family of ill-gotten wealth and sinister power, of ambition and revenge, and the rise of a mad, vulgar, avaricious demigod hawking 'radical untruth' and seeding chaos. The Golden House is a headlines-stoked novel-on-fire sure to incite discussion. But it is also a ravishingly well-told, deeply knowledgeable, magnificently insightful, and righteously outraged epic that poses timeless questions about the human condition. Can a person be both good and evil? Is family destiny? Does the past always catch up to us? In a time of polarizing extremes, can we find common ground? Will despots and their supporters be forever with us? Will humankind ever learn? Can story and art enlighten us? As Rushdie’s blazing tale surges toward its crescendo, life, as it always has, rises stubbornly from the ashes, as does love.
RaveBooklistAfter the fierce complexity of The Woman Upstairs, Messud presents a more concentrated, no less emotionally intense novel about an adhesively close friendship ... Messud’s entrancing, gorgeously incisive coming-of-age drama astutely tracks the sharpening perceptions of an exceptionally eloquent young woman navigating heartbreak and regret and realizing that one can never fathom 'the wild, unknowable interior lives' of others, not even someone you love ... [her] exquisitely realized young characters and their tough initiations into adolescence are captivating and profound.
RaveBooklist...six crisply written, ardently researched, and entertainingly revelatory portraits of very different women with complicated relationships with eating and cooking ... A bounteous and elegant feast for hungry minds.
RaveBooklist...[a] staggering debut collection ... Each tale of incarceration expands this theater of grim comedy, repercussive tragedy, and warped adaptation ... In stories that range from high-definition realism to wistful surrealism, Dawkins illuminates the nuances of prison life from the fragility of inmate friendships to the constant assault of memories and regrets, sensual deprivation, the intricate web of lies and power plays, and the many shades of stoicism. Sorrowful, hard-hitting, and compassionate, these finely formed, quietly devastating stories are told with unusual and magnetizing authority.
RaveBooklistThese gorgeously complicated, psychologically astute tales are catalyzed by holiday gatherings, weddings, birthday celebrations, and reunions, joyous occasions wildly derailed by divorce, sibling rivalry, generational clashes, financial disasters, violence, and medical emergencies. The directions in which these encounters veer are beyond unexpected, thanks to Beattie’s puckish imagination ... Beattie’s profoundly intriguing and unsettling stories abound in delectably witty and furious inner monologues, barbed dialogue, ludicrous predicaments, many-faceted heartaches, and abrupt upwellings of affection, even love.
RaveBooklistInfusing literary fiction with criminality and terror in a mode similar to that of Ann Patchett and Hannah Tinti, Meloy compounds the suspense in this gripping and incisive tale by orchestrating a profoundly wrenching shift in perspective, and morality, as well-meaning tourists face the dark realities of a complex place they viewed merely as a playground. Meloy’s commanding, heart-revving, and thought-provoking novel has enormous power and appeal.
RaveBooklist...a profoundly candid union of prose and poetry catalyzed by the recent death of his Spokane Indian mother, Lillian, one of the last to speak their tribal language, a legendary quilter, and a fighter to the end. Alexie’s deeply delving remembrance expresses a snarl of conflicting emotions, ranging from anger to awe, and reveals many tragic dangers and traumas of reservation life, from the uranium dust generated by nearby mines, which caused Lillian’s lung cancer, to the malignant legacy of genocide: identity crises, poverty, alcoholism, and violence, especially rape, in which the 'epically wounded . . . turned their rage' on each other. Alexie chronicles his own suffering as a boy born hydrocephalic and an adult diagnosed as bipolar, and tracks his flight from the rez and his life as a writer, pouring himself into every molten word. Courageous, anguished, grateful, and hilarious, this is an enlightening and resounding eulogy and self-portrait.
RaveBooklist...a work of zealous social critique laced with sexy romantic comedy and a just-in-the-nick-of-time family reconciliation ... With a weirdly nurturing driverless car, a family emergency, a sexy art director, and wrenching and hilarious confrontations and meltdowns, Maum’s incisive, charming, and funny novel ebulliently champions the healing powers of touch, the living world, and love in all its crazy risks, surprises, and sustaining radiance.
RaveBooklistWith intriguingly eccentric supporting characters and a dramatic setting, Godwin’s riveting and wise story of the slow coalescence of trust and love between a stoic artist and a grieving boy, and of nature’s glory and indifference, subtly and insightfully explores different forms of haunting and vulnerability, strength and survival ... [a] tender and spellbinding supernatural novel.
Ed. by Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon
RaveBooklistTheir dramatic testimonies are radiant with telling details, vital portraits, and explosive facts. Geraldine Brooks tells the crushing story of two young Palestinian cousins. Dave Eggers meets courageous artists in Gaza, a dehumanizing 'open-air prison.' Assaf Gavron tells harrowing tales of Palestinian soccer players; Porochista Khakpour meets rappers. The soul-crushing bureaucracy of the occupation is exposed in Raja Shehadeh’s narrative about a Palestinian taxi driver and in Chabon’s tale of a businessman. This sensitive, galvanizing, and landmark gathering brings the occupation into sharp focus as a tragedy of fear and tyranny, a monumental failure of compassion and justice, a horrific obstacle to world peace.
RaveBooklist\"...a mesmerizing volume of deftly edited passages ... Sedaris is caustically witty about his bad habits and artistic floundering. Even when he cleans up his act, falls in love, and achieves raving success, Sedaris remains self-deprecating and focused on the bizarre and the disquieting. A candid, socially incisive, and sharply amusing chronicle of the evolution of an arresting comedic artist.\
RaveBooklist\"Not even Obreht’s place on the New Yorker’s current \'20 under 40\' list of exceptional writers will prepare readers for the transporting richness and surprise of this gripping novel of legends and loss in a broken land ... Every word, every scene, every thought is blazingly alive in this many-faceted, spellbinding, and rending novel of death, succor, and remembrance.\
RaveBooklistHistorical novels about artists abound, but few attain the psychological intricacy, fluency of imagination, lacerating wit, or intoxicating beauty of Gray’s tale of Isadora Duncan ... As Isadora plunges into near madness, then slowly reclaims her artistic powers, Gray, performing her own extraordinary artistic leap, explores the nexus between body and mind, loss and creativity, love and ambition, and birth and death. The spellbinding result is a mythic, fiercely insightful, mordantly funny, and profoundly revelatory portrait of an intrepid and indelible artist.
RaveBooklist...an exquisitely sensitive double portrait of his parents ... Illustrated with family photographs, Ford’s remembrance of his parents is a masterful distillation of sensuous description, psychological intricacy, social insights, and a keen sense of place. Ford’s reflections are bright with wit, edgy with candor, and lustrous with extraordinary poignancy and love.
RaveBooklistIn these clarifying and uplifting presentations, rich in historical anecdotes and portraits, he speaks of freedom and responsibility and 'courage and patience.' At an Independence Day naturalization ceremony at Monticello, he told 'new Americans' that 'the nation is richer for you.' McCullough reminds us, 'If we are beset by problems, we have always been beset by problems.' And we have always drawn on our American spirit and convictions to find our way forward.
RaveBooklistNorman puts a sweetly comic spin on his signature themes to create a delectably clever tribute to cozy crime fiction ... With a masterfully constructed plot, brilliantly realized characters, and deliciously witty repartee, Norman offers a soulful variation on Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, while also addressing the tragic legacies of war, paying homage to books and libraries, and celebrating love. An emotionally vibrant, keenly funny, genuinely suspenseful, and altogether spellbinding novel that will thrill Norman’s fans and readers who relish creative improvisations on the grand noir tradition.
Lesley Nneka Arimah
RaveBooklist...a slender yet mighty short story collection that delivers one head-snapping smack after another ... Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, she writes with subtlety and poignancy about the struggles of love and hope between daughters and mothers and fathers, including relationships complicated by the legacy of the Biafran War, class divides, and transatlantic separations ... Arimah’s stories of loss, grief, shame, fury, and love are stingingly fresh and complexly affecting.
RaveBooklistAs Charyn, deeply versed in Kosinski’s worlds, reaches back to young Jerzy’s mastering of the art of lying to survive the war, he ultimately portrays a traumatized, desperately masquerading artist 'caught between languages,' identities, and cultures, and between renown and scandal. Daringly imaginative and profoundly insightful.
Omar El Akkad
RaveBooklist...[a] vigorously well-informed, daringly provocative speculative first novel ... El Akkad has created a brilliantly well-crafted, profoundly shattering saga of one family’s suffering in a world of brutal power struggles, terrorism, ignorance, and vengeance. American War is a gripping, unsparing, and essential novel for dangerously contentious times.
RaveBooklistWith life-or-death struggles in dramatic settings, including a calving glacier, and starring a fiercely loving, reluctant criminal and a girl of grit and wonder, Tinti has forged a breathtaking novel of violence and tenderness.