This is on several Best of lists of late and still has a queue running strong.  This is NOT an ARC so can be sold or donated to Friends (or literal friends), etc. Comment to claim.

 

Barkskins : a novelFrom Annie Proulx–the Pulitzer Prize-­ and National Book Award-­winning author of The Shipping News and “Brokeback Mountain,” comes her masterwork: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about the taking down of the world’s forests.  In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a ” seigneur ,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters–barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years–their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions–the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.  Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid–in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope–that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.

 

 

This comes out May 2nd from Riverhead, per announcements.  The PW story says:

According to Riverhead, in her new novel Hawkins “unfurls a gripping, twisting, layered story, set in a small riverside town. When a single mother and a teenage girl each turn up dead at the bottom of the river, just weeks apart, the ensuing investigation dredges up a complicated history. Like The Girl on the Train, Hawkins’s new novel Into the Water hinges on a powerful understanding of human instincts and the damage they can inflict.”

I’m putting 50 copies on order to start. They should be in the catalog shortly.

 

More on Best Of Lists

November 28, 2016

Nora Rawlinson is compiling title indexed lists in Excel of best of and notable book lists from major sources.  The fiction one is available from today’s EarlyWord post and children’s and non-fiction lists are forthcoming.  It might be a great way to find your last minute favorite for 2016 before we all share.

The New York Times Wednesday published its annual 100 notable books article for 2016. As usual, it’s a treasure trove of overlooked gems as well as more obvious award listers and bestsellers, worth sifting more than once. It also presents the kind of titles that would benefit most from heartfelt promotion.

A few personal favorites with no holds queue at this typing:

Faludi, Susan. In the Darkroom. Metropolitan Books. 

In the darkroomIn the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things–obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness.” So begins Susan Faludi‘s extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father–long estranged and living in Hungary–had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who claimed to be “a complete woman now” connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known? Faludichases that mystery into the recesses of her suburban childhood and her father’s many previous incarnations: American dad, Alpine mountaineer, swashbuckling adventurer in the Amazon outback, Jewish fugitive in Holocaust Budapest. When the author travels to Hungary to reunite with her father, she drops into a labyrinth of dark histories and dangerous politics in a country hell-bent on repressing its past and constructing a fanciful–and virulent–nationhood. The search for identity that has transfixed our century was proving as treacherous for nations as for individuals. Faludi‘s struggle to come to grips with her father’s reinvented self takes her across borders–historical, political, religious, sexual–to bring her face to face with the question of the age: Is identity something you “choose,” or is it the very thing you can’t escape?”– Provided by publisher.

 

Kirsch, Adam. The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature. W. W. Norton. 

The people and the books : 18 classics of Jewish literatureAn essential exploration of a rich literary tradition from the Bible to modern times, by a “rare literary authority” (New York Times Book Review). Jews have long embraced their identity as “the people of the book.” But outside of the Bible, much of the Jewish literary tradition remains little known. ThePeople and the Books shows how central questions and themes of our history and culture are reflected in the Jewish literary canon: the nature of God, the right way to understand the Bible, the relationship of the Jews to their Promised Land, and the challenges of living as a minority in Diaspora. Adam Kirsch explores eighteen classic texts including the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Esther, the philosophy of Maimonides, the autobiography of the medieval businesswoman Gluckel of Hameln, and the Zionist manifestos of Theodor Herzl. From the Jews of ancient Rome to the mystical devotees of Hasidism in Eastern Europe, The People and the Books brings the treasures of Jewish literature to life and offers new ways to think about their enduring power and influence”– Provided by publisher.

 

 

Palacio, Derek. The Mortifications. Tim Duggan.

The mortifications : a novelIn 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnacion – father, husband, political insurgent–refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.<br> <br> Each struggles and flourishes in their own way: Isabel, spiritually hungry and desperate for higher purpose, finds herself tethered to death and the dying in uncanny ways. Ulises is bookish and awkwardly tall, like his father, whose memory haunts and shapes the boy’s thoughts and desires. Presiding over them both is Soledad. Once consumed by her love for her husband, she begins a tempestuous new relationship with a Dutch tobacco farmer. But just as the Encarnaci#65533;ns begin to cultivate their strange new way of life, Cuba calls them back. Uxbal is alive, and waiting.

 

Bakewell, Sarah. At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails. Other Press. 

At the existentialist café : freedom, being, and apricot cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and othersParis, 1933: three contemporaries meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are the young Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and longtime friend Raymond Aron, a fellow philosopher who raves to them about a new conceptual framework from Berlin called Phenomenology. “You see,” he says, “if you are a phenomenologist you can talk about this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!” It was this simple phrase that would ignite a movement, inspiring Sartre to integrate Phenomenology into his own French, humanistic sensibility, thereby creating an entirely new philosophical approach inspired by themes of radical freedom, authentic being, and political activism. This movement would sweep through the jazz clubs and cafés of the Left Bank before making its way across the world as Existentialism. Featuring not only philosophers, but also playwrights, anthropologists, convicts, and revolutionaries, At the Existentialist Café follows the existentialists’ story, from the first rebellious spark through the Second World War, to its role in postwar liberation movements such as anticolonialism, feminism, and gay rights. Interweaving biography and philosophy, it is the epic account of passionate encounters–fights, love affairs, mentorships, rebellions, and long partnerships–and a vital investigation into what the existentialists have to offer us today, at a moment when we are once again confronting the major questions of freedom, global responsibility, and human authenticity in a fractious and technology-driven world.

National Book Award 2016

November 17, 2016

Sorry, I have no ARC’s for these, my few of the Underground Railroad having long parted me, but I’m hoping wherever they are, they’re being shared to the max.

The National Book Foundation’s website   lists this year’s winners. We already owned all but the poetry book by Borzutzky, which I am ordering.

Whitehead, Colson.  The Underground Railroad. Doubleday. 

The Underground Railroad : a novelIn Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor–engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.<br> Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey–hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

 

 

Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning. Nation Books. 

Stamped from the beginning : the definitive history of racist ideas in AmericaIn this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.  As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation’s racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them–and in the process, gives us reason to hope.

 

Borzutzky, Daniel.  The Performance of Becoming Human. Brooklyn Art Pr. 

Product DetailsDaniel Borzutzky returns to confront the various ways nation-states and their bureaucracies absorb and destroy communities and economies. In THE PERFORMANCE OF BECOMING HUMAN, the bay of Valparaiso merges into the western shore of Lake Michigan, where Borzutzky continues his poetic investigation into the political and economic violence shared by Chicago and Chile, two places integral to his personal formation. To become human is to navigate borders, including the fuzzy borders of institutions, the economies of privatization, overdevelopment, and underdevelopment, under which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses in cities, villages, deserts. Borzutzky, whose writing Eileen Myles has described as “violent, perverse, and tender” in its portrayal of a “kaleidoscopic journey of American horror and global horror,” adds another chapter to a growing and important compendium of work that asks what it means to a be both a unitedstatesian and a globalized subject whose body is “shared between the earth, the st
ate, and the bank.”

Lewis, John. March: Book Three.  Top Shelf Books. 

Welcome to the March. Book threestunning conclusion of the award-winning andbest-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one ofthe key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin andartist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a newgeneration, urgently relevant for today’s world.  By the fall of 1963, theCivil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, andas chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis isguiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continuesto force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every stepforward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legaltricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change isto give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression:”One Man, One Vote.”  To carry out their nonviolentrevolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovativecampaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and anall-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on nationaltelevision.  With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and anunpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within themovement are deepening … even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to riskeverything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town calledSelma.

 

Two ARC’s on offer: one a beat-the-queue copy and one coming out in January. Comment to claim. Thank you.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. Penguin, Nov. 2016. 

An ambSwing timeitious, exuberant new novel moving from North West London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty Two brown girls dream of being dancers–but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live. But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey–the same twists, the same shakes–and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time“– Provided by publisher.

 

 

Graham, Heather and Jon Land. The Rising. Tor, January 2017. 

The RisingWhen a football accident lands Alex in the hospital, his world is turned upside down. His doctor is murdered. Then, his parents. Death seems to follow him wherever he goes, and now it’s after him.  Alex flees. He tells Samantha not to follow, but she became involved the moment she walked through his door and found Mr. and Mrs. Chin as they lay dying in their home. She cannot abandon the young man she loves. The two race desperately to stay ahead of Alex’s attackers long enough to figure out why they are hunting him in the first place. The answer lies with a secret buried deep in his past, a secret his parents died to protect. Alex always knew he was adopted, but he never knew the realreason his birth parents abandoned him. He never knew where he truly came from. Until now.

This is another self-reflective spiritual memoir, focusing this time on cultivating mercy.  I picked up an ARC at a recent publisher show-and-tell. Comment to claim. I am probably ordering this next month.

Lamott, Anne. Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy. Riverhead, April 4, 2017.

In Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by “facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.” It’s up to each of us to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere—”within us and outside us, all around us”—and to use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and more honest connections with each other. While that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that it’s crucial, as “kindness towards others, beginning with myself, buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.”