NPR announces these titles as winners of the National Book Award. We own all titles, even the poetry (must have consulted the shortlist earlier).  Announcement only, thank you. Sing, Unburied, Sing especially has the copies for another good run.

 

FICTION

Ward, Jesmyn.  Sing, Unburied, Sing. Scribner, 2017.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Summary: A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward. In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones , this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.

NON-FICTION

Gessen, Masha.  The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.  Riverhead, 2017.

The Future Is HistorySummary: The visionary journalist and bestselling biographer of Vladimir Putin reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.

Hailed for her “fearless indictment of the most powerful man in Russia” (TheWall Street Journal), award-winning journalist Masha Gessen is unparalleled in her understanding of the events and forces that have wracked her native country in recent times. In The Future Is History, she follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each of them came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own—as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers, and writers, sexual and social beings.

Gessen charts their paths against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all, and against the war it waged on understanding itself, which ensured the unobstructed reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state. Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time.

 

POETRY

Bidart, Frank.  Half-Light: Collected Poems. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2017.

Half-light

Summary: Gathered together, the poems of Frank Bidart perform one of the most remarkable transmutations of the body into language in contemporary literature. His pages represent the human voice in all its extreme registers, whether it’s that of the child-murderer Herbert White, the obsessive anorexic Ellen West, the tormented genius Vaslav Nijinsky, or the poet’s own. And in that embodiment is a transgressive empathy, one that recognizes our wild appetites, the monsters, the misfits, the misunderstood among us and inside us. Few writers have so willingly ventured to the dark places of the human psyche and allowed themselves to be stripped bare on the page with such candor and vulnerability. Over the past half century, Bidart has done nothing less than invent a poetics commensurate with the chaos and appetites of our experience. Half-light encompasses all of Bidart’s previous books, and also includes a new collection, Thirst, in which the poet austerely surveys his life, laying it plain for us before venturing into something new and unknown. Here Bidart finds himself a “Creature coterminous with thirst,” still longing, still searching in himself, one of the “queers of the universe.” Visionary and revelatory, intimate and unguarded, Bidart’s Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2017 are a radical confrontation with human nature, a conflict eternally renewed and reframed, restless line by restless line.
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We have plenty of copies for a second run – thanks!

 

Lincoln in the BardoOn February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Willie finds himself in a strange purgatory– the bardo– where ghosts commiserate quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance … and where a struggle erupts over his soul.
Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel – in its form and voice – completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.

 

 

Nobel prize for literature

October 5, 2017

 

This year’s honor goes to Kazuo Ishiguro.  Ishiguro is probably best known as the author of Remains of the Day.  In announcing the award, the Nobel committee stated, “…In novels of great emotional force, [he] has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world,” later adding, “If you mix Jane Austin with Franz Kafka, you have Kazuo Ishiguro. You have to add a bit of Marcel Proust in there too.”

Sno-Isle owns copies of all of Ishiguro’s works; we’ll add copies as holds queues build.

These could all potentially find more readers for their copies, with the possible exception of Her Body and Other Parties (drat an underorder). No ARC’s anymore but thought these were worth a mention. The full list, including non-fiction, is here.

Ackerman, Elliot. Dark at the Crossing. Knopf.

Dark at the Crossing“Haris Abadi is a man in search of a cause. An Arab American with a conflicted past, he is now in Turkey, attempting to cross into Syria and join the fight against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. But he is robbed before he can make it, and is taken in by Amir, a charismatic Syrian refugee and former revolutionary, and Amir’s wife, Daphne, a sophisticated beauty haunted by grief. As it becomes clear that Daphne is also desperate to return to Syria, Haris’s choices become ever more wrenching: Whose side is he really on? Is he a true radical or simply an idealist? And will he be able to bring meaning to a life of increasing frustration and helplessness?”–Page 4 of cover.

 

 

 

Ward, Jesmyn. Sing, Unburied, Sing. Scribner.

“A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature”– Provided by publisher.

Ko, Lisa. The Leavers. Algonquin.

The Leavers“One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. Set in New York and China, the Leavers is the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past”– Provided by publisher.

 

 

 

Lee, Min Jin. Pachinko. Grand Central.

Pachinko

“A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. PACHINKO follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity”– Provided by publisher.

Machado, Carmen Maria. Her Body and Other Parties. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Her Body and Other PartiesIn Her Body and Other Parties , Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
“[A] timely new novel of stunning humanity and tension: a contemporary love story set on the Turkish border with Syria” — provided by publisher.

Man Booker Shortlist

September 13, 2017

The Man Booker Prize now has a short list (see PW coverage).  We own all except for Elmet by Fiona Mozley which has not yet been published in the U.S. so I’ll hold off on that one.  4 3 2 1 I’m sure has been fun to search for customers and I have a feeling the fun will continue.

The others with publisher summaries:

Saunders, George. Lincoln in the Bardo. Random House.

Lincoln in the BardoSummary: Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel – in its form and voice – completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.
On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Willie finds himself in a strange purgatory– the bardo– where ghosts commiserate quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance … and where a struggle erupts over his soul.

 

 

Smith, Ali. Autumn. Pantheon.

Autumn

“From the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both: a breathtakingly inventive new novel–about aging, time, love, and stories themselves–that launches an extraordinary quartet of books called Seasonal. Readers love Ali Smith’s novels for their peerless innovation and their joyful celebration of language and life. Her newest, Autumn, has all of these qualities in spades, and–good news for fans!–is the first installment in a quartet. Seasonal, comprised of four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as are the seasons), explores what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative. Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy, and the color hit of Pop Art, Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means”– Provided by publisher.

 

Fridlund, Emily.  History of Wolves. Grove Atlantic.

History of Wolves“So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides!”-Aimee Bender. Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outlander at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with possessing child pornography, the implications of his arrest deeply affect Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong. And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose but with this new sense of belonging she is also drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand. Over the course of a few days, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do-and fail to do-for the people they love. Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, Emily Fridlund’s propulsive and gorgeously written History of Wolves introduces a new writer of enormous range and talent.”– Provided by publisher.

Auster, Paul. 4 3 2 1. Henry Holt.

4 3 2 1

“Paul Auster’s greatest, most heartbreaking and satisfying novel — a sweeping and surprising story of birthright and possibility, of love and of life itself: a masterpiece. Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Each Ferguson falls under the spell of the magnificent Amy Schneiderman, yet each Amy and each Ferguson have a relationship like no other. Meanwhile, readers will take in each Ferguson’s pleasures and ache from each Ferguson’s pains, as the mortal plot of each Ferguson’s life rushes on. As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, yet with a passion for realism and a great tenderness and fierce attachment to history and to life itself that readers have never seen from Auster before. 4 3 2 1 is a marvelous and unforgettably affecting tour de force.”– Provided by publisher.

Hamid, Mohsin.  Exit West. Riverhead.

Exit West“From the internationally bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, a love story that unfolds in a world being irrevocably transformed by migration. In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet–sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, thrust into premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors–doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As violence and the threat of violence escalate, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. Exit West is an epic compressed into a slender page-turner–both completely of our time and for all time, Mohsin Hamid’s most ambitious and electrifying novel yet”– Provided by publisher.

I’m purchasing those we did not already own.  The Seattle Times is covering. Here’s the link.  Thanks!

Barkskins  Lovecraft Country  Eruption

 

Christian Book Awards

May 8, 2017

 

Christianity Today, magazine mouthpiece for a broad evangelical audience, has posted the Christian Book Awards for 2017. We owned most of them, except for a cultural work of interest that I am ordering this week, highlighted below.  Popular devotional works in Christianity and Buddhism especially are popular and have a high turnover, but selecting particular titles can be challenging.  It is worth paying close attention to industry coverage in PW, bestseller lists, and other sources within this niche.  For instance, one of the bestselling Christian titles of recent years hands down is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, which I never received a *single* RINC for but which after I finally ordered it has circulated over 220 times.  SINC’s in any of these areas are most welcome.

The prolific right-leaning Evangelical presses include Zondervan, Multnomah, Thomas Nelson, and Eerdman’s, among many others.  Liberal faith is represented by Beacon Press and HarperOne. Buddhist publishers include Shambhala and Wisdom Publications.  Wiccan interest is covered by Llewellyn, Catholic interest by Ignatius and Loyola Presses and unbelief and skeptical viewpoints by Prometheus Press. These are a few dedicated imprints but in general the Big Five and university presses also produce prodigious output.

 

Tebow, Tim.  Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms.  Waterbrook, 2016. [7 copies]

Shaken“First, he was a beloved college football champion, media sensation, and best-selling author drafted in the first round of the 2010 Draft. Then he had a miracle playoff run with the Denver Broncos before being traded to the New York Jets. After one season he was cut by New York, next signed by the New England Patriots, then let go after training camp. Tim Tebow has achieved big victories and plunged the depths of failure, all while holding firm to his faith. In Shaken he explains why neither the highs nor the lows of his life can define him–and he reveals how you, too, can find an unshakable identity and purpose. In revealing passages, Tebow pulls back the curtain on his life, sharing the vulnerable moments of his career that have shaken him to his core–while also teaching the biblical principles that will enable you to keep the faith, no matter what comes your way.”–Baker & Taylor.

 

 

 

Glaspey, Terry.  75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. Baker, 2015. [Soon  in catalog]

75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and FilmSome of the greatest artists have taken their inspiration from their faith. Now you can discover the stories behind seventy-five masterpieces of art, literature, music, and film–and the artists who created them. From the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt, from Bach to U2, from John Bunyan to Frederick Buechner, author and historian Terry Glaspey unveils the absorbing true stories behind these masterpieces and shares the faith-filled details you might have missed.