PositiveBooklistJones’ signature, sparse style lends itself well to this apocalyptic slice of life. There are no elaborate plots or extravagant technologies. Rather, nature weaves in and out of these stories in the form of hovering bees, seaweed, and a dampness treasured and elusive. There are more than a few passages here could be taking place today. Stillicide will linger in its poignancy.
PositiveBooklistDesperation and revenge lead these principals on a collision course the reader can see coming, but will eagerly turn to every chapter to find out what’s next. Joy portrays his characters with unflinching realism. Creative turns of phrase and clever colloquialisms move the story forward and keep the otherwise disheartening subject matter full of thrilling surprises. As Southern noir-tinged fiction gains a well-deserved audience, Joy is one voice that never disappoints.
PositiveBooklistThe cluttered yet routine-oriented world first novelist Adams describes surrounding the Heap recalls elaborate dystopian scenes found in Terry Gilliam films, while life in Los Verticalés before its collapse is purportedly drawn from the sporadic records of the nostalgia-addled \'Displaced Travelers,\' who were not present for the fall. The structure’s past and the Heap’s story of brotherly connection present irresistibly clever commentary steeped in wit and secrets.
Bob Kaufman, Ed. by Neeli Cherkovski, Raymond Foye, and Tate Swindell
PositiveBooklistCity Lights and the editors do a grand service to literature by publishing Kaufman’s poetry in one collection ... Kaufman’s numerous poems take the reader through the history of his varied influences, which combine a strong surrealist flare with the audacity of Rimbaud, and always present is his foundational appreciation of jazz. Were the poems in this collection to be rendered in paint, they would grace the walls of modern art wings and museums across the country. This is a necessary gift for poets and poetry readers.
PositiveBooklist... startingly brash ... In poems that are electrified by the language of Black eroticism and the racist oppressor, Tariq effectively conveys the deep inner conflict felt by many African Americans ... This collection presents a brave voice in poetry, unapologetically honest and alarmingly astute.
Reginald Dwayne Betts
PositiveBooklistIn visually arresting poems, Betts exposes systematic prejudices, legal disparities, and the emotional strain of raising two sons in a country accustomed to assuming the worst about Black males ... Also found in the powerful realism of Betts’ poems are vivid portrayals of steadfast love for the speaker’s family, while the theme of reentry beats throughout. The importance of Betts’ collection cannot be overstated as current events shed light on ongoing injustices.
PositiveBooklistSimic presents another striking poetry collection meticulously centered on his signature themes of nature, observations of ordinary events, and the leveling emotions related to death ... Simic makes sacred the language of deep realizations by declining to use exaggerated embellishment.
PositiveBooklistRae dwells especially on Cobain’s relationship with the writer, highlighting their creative kinship and how deeply affected Burroughs was when the young musician took his own life. Readers who are already versed in Burroughs’ biosphere may not find a lot that is new in Rae’s history-heavy text, though his focus on Burroughs’ inspiring connections to literary rock stars of exceptional talent and renown makes for a welcome addition to the Burroughs shelf.
Young-Ha Kim Trans. by Krys Lee
PositiveBooklistKim delicately weaves philosophical debates on the nature of happiness and morality into his characters’ inner narrations. Both jarring and atmospheric, this is a cerebrally satisfying collection.
MixedBooklistThe male characters Meijer conjures face each unfolding horror with enigmatic stoicism, as though toxic masculinity is a new, unheard-of experience. The sudden disgust is perplexing, but Meijer’s collection is definitely affecting and timely.
RaveBooklistCharlesworth’s saga takes a sweeping sideways look at American ambition and even the great American novel. However, the tone is never cynical in this family tragedy. Rather, there is a beautiful sadness as well as mournful anger as Charlesworth evokes the loss following consequential choices.
RaveBooklistIn this extensively detailed history of South Sudan achieving independence from Sudan in 2011, and its tragic collapse back into violence since 2013, Vertin makes an ardent effort to shine light onto the young nation’s internal politics, external influences, and larger-than-life personas involved in this complex and precarious situation ... the strength of his argument is rooted in his years spent with both regional leaders and citizenry as a former senior advisor to the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. Vertin offers unprecedented access ... The gut-wrenching effort of the South Sudanese to escape or endure is especially revealing. Vertin provides a vitally important, expert account of the little-understood founding of a struggling nation.
Sarah Léon, Trans. by John Cullen
PositiveBooklistFirst-novelist Léon creates a sense of comfort even as the tension between the two men builds, much like the snow that continues to fall outside the isolated cabin. Their unresolved past ripples through the book in italicized moments, but never jarringly so. Léon’s tale is an homage to Schubert and German Romanticism as a brooding tone underlines the pair’s resentment and dependence on each other, which seethes just below the surface during their conversations in the forest and silent moments by the fire. Léon perfectly measures out past and present to reach a satisfying and intimate crescendo.
PositiveBooklistThough the writing gets mired from time to time in esoteric philosophical language, this contribution to the literature of idea development is significant in that it provides practical guidelines along with timely observations. Combined with the already fervent emphasis on STEM (or STEAM, as the case may be) in today’s curriculum, this title will prove to be sustaining and relevant.
MixedBooklistSome may find the author’s limited scope of bands disconcerting in that other bands may not have hit it as big but were no less influential. Some readers may wish for a more intimate perspective, but Winwood does cover the music and its context and fans with great reverence as he captures this exuberant time in the history of punk music.
PositiveBooklist...memorializing, globe-trekking tales ... Halfon reveals the mystery in precise, beautiful language that never confuses even when paragraphs span decades. What the reader is given is an unforgettable exploration of one family’s fluid, collective memory.
PositiveBooklist\"...By embracing punk, young East Germans rejected the obsessively and oppressively planned life the government mandated. In fact, to be punk there was to be an enemy of the state subject to interrogation, loss of income, searches, and imprisonment. Translator, editor, and former Berlin DJ Mohr...details the origins of East German punks down to the first female teen punk, nicknamed Major for all the safety pins she wore on her jacket. As other nicknamed punks encountered each other, they formed a movement aided, curiously enough, by church organizations, which were left alone by the state ... Mohr tells a frantic and exciting true story of music versus dictatorship, and the infamous wall it helped bring down.
PositiveBooklistAll is, for this well-spoken antihero, fairly routine before the introduction of Frances, who caught his eye randomly. She could have been missed as another passerby, but when a reflection cast light on her, his obsession followed ... Read Me offers a salacious, disturbing, and increasingly focused look into the mind of a stalker
PositiveBooklist OnlineIn another fictionalized memoir, Peace turns his attention from British football fields to the early twentieth-century literary world of the highly influential modern Japanese short-story writer, Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The jump in subject reflects Peace’s more than 20 years of living in Japan ... Peace’s writing in Akutagawa’s voice is, at times, disorienting, but this form of literary devotion is not without reward. By combining history, oral tradition, surrealism, and a Poe-like grittiness, the always innovative Peace reimagines the life of a gifted writer who died young by his own hand.
PositiveBooklist Online...Shen Fever spreads through fungal spores, causing its victims to lethargically repeat menial tasks, ignoring all external stimuli, including the need for sustenance. Prognosis is terminal. Candace Chen, a rare survivor of the outbreak, blogs anonymously as NY Ghost on a slowly disintegrating internet, capturing the horror of what has happened in her photographs of an empty New York City, where she lived when the fevered started dying. The narrative flashes back to Candace’s life before the end, working for a book-manufacturing company in the Bibles department; spending free time watching movies with her on-and-off boyfriend, Jonathan; and longing for the seemingly fulfilled lives of other millennials her age ... Ma’s debut marks a notable creative jump by playing on the apocalyptic fears many people share today, as we live in these very interesting times.
RaveBooklist OnlineWhile reading Coviello’s diary-entry memoir about his marriage, \'semistepdad\' status to two delightfully precocious girls, and abrupt divorce and its aftermath...Coviello details his heartache in sometimes exasperating fervor as he attempts to understand why his wife, Evany, broke up their seemingly idyllic home by being unfaithful with a colleague ... Coviello reports on his travels from Maine to New York, Europe, Chicago, and back to Maine...using the connective thread of music and mixtapes to guide the reader through his anguish. Rare jewels of eloquent self-disclosure and must-hear postpunk music are offered to readers up to the challenge of this emotionally hefty volume.
Martin Michael Driessen, Trans. by Jon Reeder
PositiveBooklist OnlineDutch theater director, translator, and writer Driessen scales the depths and sounds of distinct perspectives on several European waterways in this peculiar and alarming set of three stories ... Told from multiple viewpoints as the families unearth past wrongs and regrets, this tale reveals different aspects of the conflict. Driessen’s noteworthy collection displays humanity at its best and worst in relation to the waters his characters depend on for their lives, as we all are sustained by the earth’s rivers and streams.
PositiveBooklistWinton thrusts the reader into the barren and unforgiving salt land in western Australia. With the author’s intimate knowledge of the harsh landscape, it serves as the catalyst for action. Jaxie’s distinctive, gritty language renders his story visceral, and an absolute thrill to read.
PositiveBooklistIn what is more an exercise in empathy than a full-throated novel, Jones (Everything I Found on the Beach, 2016) sets the reader adrift with an unnamed narrator who has just been struck by lightning while fishing in a kayak far from shore ... Jones echoes other survival narratives by keeping his narrator’s voice internal, but he creates a feeling of desperate solitude with wonderfully sparse language. Lovers of poetry and experimental prose will marvel at this impressionistic lament.
Mario Vargas Llosa, Trans. by Edith Grossman
PositiveBooklistMixing a flair for pulpy dialogue and even pulpier characters, Vargas Llosa manages to convey empathy for that seediest of figures, the tabloid journalist. In venturing into genre territory, Nobel Prize–winner Vargas Llosa finds a sweet spot with this textured thriller that will appeal both to his established audience of literary-fiction readers and to fans of international crime novels.
Wioletta Greg, Trans. by Eliza Marciniak
RaveBooklist\"Greg’s fictional debut combines the opposing literary styles of socialist realism and magic realism in intoxicating sentences that convey sensuous detail so delightfully that one feels as though one is eating watermelon outdoors in summer … There are rituals and superstitions, drunkards and loving relatives, harvested foods and sordid intentions. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Greg’s novel offers a surprising perspective that challenges the traditional bildungsroman in its brevity and Soviet-era allure.\
PositiveBooklistOnce again, Lagercrantz succeeds in carefully staying true to the framework created by the late Stieg Larsson in his original trilogy, and fans can continue to follow their favorite hacker heroine from obscurity to notoriety to unsought fame and unwanted attention. Through all Salander’s struggles, she exudes stalwart integrity, razor-like methods, and a concealed past ... In this new world where everything is suspect, including proclaimed facts, it is the dragons that protect and avenge the downtrodden.
RaveBooklist[Wen] has fashioned a selective writing style that effectively pays homage to both the history of mime and its solitary master ... Wen crafts diamond-cut paragraphs that place the reader in Marceau’s enthralled audiences. A lustful affair turns into a long and loving partnership in three minutes of walking with intention and emotion, followed by a scene depicting David and Goliath, with Marceau as Bip playing all roles. These invaluable descriptions by a writer versed in the tradition of making the nonvisible vibrant should be read slowly and with the same seemingly effortless focus Marceau gave to his art.