The Pacific Northwest Booksellers  Association has announced their 2017 Pacific Northwest Book Awards.  They are:

Proulx, Annie.  Barkskins.

DeConnick, Kelly Sue.  Bitch planet, Book one: Extraordinary machine

Smith, Alexis M.  Marrow island

Moor, Robert.  On trails: an expoloration

West, Lindy.  Shrill: Notes from a loud woman.

Alexie, Sherman.  Thunder Boy, Jr.

Ivey, Eowyn.  To the bright edge of the world

Here is more information on the winners.  Winners will soon be featured on NWBookLovers blog.

We have all the print editions.  We own all of the ebooks expect Shrill which I am purchasing.

I am glad to see a graphic novel (Bitch Planet) on this list.

Posted by Becky

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

This is the first American to win the award.  Here’s the announcement. We have three copies and now 41 holds, 40 of which were placed  yesterday or today. [As of 10/27 this queue has doubled to 85 and counting!]  We’re getting 18 copies total but that might go up even further.

 

The selloutA biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’sThe Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality–the black Chinese restaurant.
Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens–on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles–the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

The Academy has announced its 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature goes to none other than Bob Dylan.

“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

Several news and media sources are covering this announcement and Dylan’s output and career, among them Publisher’s Weekly, The New York Times, and NPR.

We probably don’t own all of his opus but I’ll highlight a few books we do own and some particularly relevant music (thanks Jim!), though we own much more. Don’t forget Hoopla! as a vehicle for connecting to his work.

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits – Volumes 1 and 2.  [Contain early significant tracks]

Bob Dylan's greatest hitsBob Dylan's greatest hits. Volume II

 

Chronicles. Volume One. Simon & Schuster, 2004. [Confirmed volume 2 never yet completed]

Chronicles. Volume one

The first volume in a series of memoirs by a musical and political icon. Circa 1965, arguably the high point in his creative genius, Bob Dylan writes about the beginning of his music career, his early loves, and offers a very personal, anecdotal view of this time of creativity, innovation and music history.

 

 

 

 

Tarantula.  Scribner, 2004. 

Tarantula

Music legend Bob Dylan’s only work of fiction–a combination of stream of consciousness prose, lyrics, and poetry that gives fans insight into one of the most influential singer-songwriters of our time. Written in 1966, Tarantula is a collection of poems and prose that evokes the turbulence of the times in which it was written, and gives a unique insight into Dylan’s creative evolution. It captures Bob Dylan’s preoccupations at a crucial juncture in his artistic development, showcasing the imagination of a folk poet laureate who was able to combine the humanity and compassion of his country roots with the playful surrealism of modern art. Angry, funny, and strange, the poems and prose in this collection reflect the concerns found in Dylan’s most seminal music: a sense of protest, a verbal playfulness and spontaneity, and a belief in the artistic legitimacy of chronicling everyday life and eccentricity on the street.

The National Book Foundation has announced its shortlist for the National Book Award.  This link includes the non-fiction and poetry candidates as well, which will probably trigger purchases or additional for the winners.  I’ll highlight  the fiction that hasn’t already been highlighted before in the  previous post on the longlist.

FICTION

Besides Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn, we also have

Jiles, Paulett.  News of the World. William Morrow.

News of the world : a novelPublisher Summary: It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.  In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.  Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

 

Bachelder, Chris. The Throwback Special. W. W. Norton.

The throwback special : a novelPublisher Summary: The Throwback Special is the story of twenty-two ordinary guys who gather each fall to reenact what ESPN has called the most shocking play in NFL history: the November 1985 play in which Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins had his leg horribly broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. (The play was known by the Redskins as the Throwback Special.) Over the course of a weekend we follow the men as they choose roles; spend a long night of the soul revealing their secret hopes, fears, and passions as they prepare for the game; and finally enact their strange and yet oh-so-American ritual for what may be the last time. With his trademark microfine sense of humor and tragic sense of history (Michael Chabon), Chris Bachelder’s moving and very funny tale is filled with pitch-perfect observations about manhood, marriage, and middle age.

 

 

Mahajan, Karan.  The Association of Small Bombs. Viking.

The association of small bombs

Publisher Summary: After witnessing his two friends killed by a “small” bomb that detonated in a Dehli marketplace, Mansoor Ahmed becomes involved with a charismatic young activist, whose allegiances and beliefs are more changeable than he could have imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Book Award Longlist

September 15, 2016

The National Book Foundation has put out its longlist for this year.  The winner will be announced November 16th.  We own all the fiction and non-fiction and at least a few of the poetry titles.

Here below are some highlights of the titles doing best in our system, not including Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, which is doing the best [210 holds!] and has been highlighted a couple times before.

FICTION

 

Watson, Brad. Miss Jane. W.W. Norton & Co. [12 holds]

Miss Jane : a novelSince his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson has been expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America.  Now, drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central “uses” for a woman in that time and place: sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, Miss Jane Chisolm and her world are anything but barren.  The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson’s fiction. In Miss Jane, the author brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty. Jane Chisolm’s irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place on her. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.

 

Haslett, Adam. Imagine Me Gone. Little, Brown. [15 holds]

Imagine me gone : a novel“Haslett is one of the country’s most talented writers, equipped with a sixth sense for characterization.”- -Wall Street Journal  “Ambitious and stirring . . . With Imagine Me Gone , Haslett has reached another level.” –New York Times Book Review  New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Best Books of 2016 So Far — Time and Refinery29  From a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, a ferociously intimate story of a family facing the ultimate question: how far will we go to save the people we love the most? When Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic who makes sense of the world through parody. Over the span of decades, his younger siblings — the savvy and responsible Celia and the ambitious and tightly controlled Alec — struggle along with their mother to care for Michael’s increasingly troubled and precarious existence. Told in alternating points of view by all five members of the family, this searing, gut-wrenching, and yet frequently hilarious novel brings alive with remarkable depth and poignancy the love of a mother for her children, the often inescapable devotion siblings feel toward one another, and the legacy of a father’s pain in the life of a family. With his striking emotional precision and lively, inventive language, Adam Haslett has given us something rare: a novel with the power to change how we see the most important people in our lives.

 

Woodson, Jacqueline.  Another Brooklyn.  Amistad. [57 holds]

Another Brooklyn : a novelNew Yorks Times Bestseller.  The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years.  Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything–until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant–a part of a future that belonged to them.  But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion. Like Louise Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood–the promise and peril of growing up–and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.

 

 

NON-FICTION

 

O’Neil, Cathy. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Crown. [16 holds]

Weapons of math destruction : how big data increases inequality and threatens democracyA former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life — and threaten to rip apart our social fabric.  We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives–where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance–are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.  But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data. Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort résumés, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health. O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.

Thompson, Heather Ann.  Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. Pantheon.  [8 holds]

Blood in the water : the Attica prison uprising of 1971 and its legacyOn September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed.  On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men–hostages as well as prisoners–and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. And, ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed.  Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research, historian Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this forty-five-year fight for justice: prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. Blood in the Water is the searing and indelible account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century.

 

Bacevich, Andrew J. America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. Random House. [One hold on 4 out copies]

America's war for the greater Middle East : a military history From the end of World War II until 1980, virtually no American soldiers were killed in action while serving in the Greater Middle East. Since 1990, virtually no American soldiers have been killed in action anywhere else. What caused this shift? Andrew J. Bacevich, one of the country’s most respected voices on foreign affairs, offers an incisive critical history of this ongoing military enterprise–now more than thirty years old and with no end in sight.  During the 1980s, Bacevich argues, a great transition occurred. As the Cold War wound down, the United States initiated a new conflict–a War for the Greater Middle East–that continues to the present day. The long twilight struggle with the Soviet Union had involved only occasional and sporadic fighting. But as this new war unfolded, hostilities became persistent. From the Balkans and East Africa to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, U.S. forces embarked upon a seemingly endless series of campaigns across the Islamic world. Few achieved anything remotely like conclusive success. Instead, actions undertaken with expectations of promoting peace and stability produced just the opposite. As a consequence, phrases like “permanent war” and “open-ended war” have become part of everyday discourse.  Connecting the dots in a way no other historian has done before, Bacevich weaves a compelling narrative out of episodes as varied as the Beirut bombing of 1983, the Mogadishu firefight of 1993, the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the rise of ISIS in the present decade. Understanding what America’s costly military exertions have wrought requires seeing these seemingly discrete events as parts of a single war. It also requires identifying the errors of judgment made by political leaders in both parties and by senior military officers who share responsibility for what has become a monumental march to folly. This Bacevich unflinchingly does.  A twenty-year army veteran who served in Vietnam, Andrew J. Bacevich brings the full weight of his expertise to this vitally important subject. America’s War for the Greater Middle East is a bracing after-action report from the front lines of history. It will fundamentally change the way we view America’s engagement in the world’s most volatile region.

At least in print. The shortlist  includes two Americans, Paul Beatty and Ottessa Moshfegh, as well as two Britons and two Canadians. The winner will be announced Tuesday, October 25th, at which time there may well be an additional order to meet demand.  Last year’s winner, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, has circulated over 200 times.

This “regular” Man Booker Prize now allows American authors to be candidates, as long as their work is published in the UK between May of the previous year and April of the award year.  That’s a good thing because the award is influential in the US.  What’s great about this year’s shortlist is these have already been published or scheduled to be published in the US, so no long wait if you haven’t already discovered them.

The rules for the Man Booker International Prize have changed as well.  This relatively new prize, won by American Philip Roth in 2009, now promotes translated works, considering

“any work in print or electronic format written originally in a language other than English and published in the UK by an imprint formally established in the UK.”

 

So here’s the shortlist:

Beatty, Paul.  The Sellout.  Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

The selloutSummary: A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality–the black Chinese restaurant.  Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens–on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles–the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral. Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident–the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins–he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

 

Levy, Deborah.  Hot Milk.  Bloomsbury.

Hot milk

Summary: Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant–their very last chance–in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis.  But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia’s mother’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia’s role as detective–tracking her mother’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain–deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.

 

 

Burnet, Graeme Macrae. His Bloody Project. Perseus. (Coming October 4th).

His Bloody Project : Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae - Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2016

Summary: A brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish farming community in 1869 leads to the arrest of seventeen-year-old Roderick Macrae. There is no question that Macrae committed this terrible act. What would lead such a shy and intelligent boy down this bloody path? And will he hang for his crime?  Presented as a collection of documents discovered by the author, His Bloody Project opens with a series of police statements taken from the villagers of Culdie, Ross-shire. They offer conflicting impressions of the accused; one interviewee recalls Macrae as a gentle and quiet child, while another details him as evil and wicked. Chief among the papers is Roderick Macrae’s own memoirs where he outlines the series of events leading up to the murder in eloquent and affectless prose. There follow medical reports, psychological evaluations, a courtroom transcript from the trial, and other documents that throw both Macrae’s motive and his sanity into question.

 

Moshfegh, Ottessa. Eileen. Penguin.

Summary: The ChristmEileenas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.

 

 

 

 

All That Man Is : StoriesSzalay, David.  All That Man Is: Stories.  Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

A magnificent and ambitiously conceived portrait of contemporary life, by a genius of realism.  Nine men. Each of them at a different stage in life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving–in the suburbs of Prague, in an overdeveloped Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a dingy Cyprus hotel–to understand what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing a dramatic arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, the ostensibly separate narratives of All That Man Is aggregate into a picture of a single shared existence, a picture that interrogates the state of modern manhood while bringing to life, unforgettably, the physical and emotional terrain of an increasingly globalized Europe. And so these nine lives form an ingenious and new kind of novel, in which David Szalay expertly plots a dark predicament for the twenty-first-century man.

 

Thien, Madeleine.  Do Not Say We Have Nothing. W. W. Norton & Co. (Coming October 11th).

Summary: “IDo Not Say We Have Nothingn a single year, my father left us twice. The first time, to end his marriage, and the second, when he took his own life. I was ten years old.”Master storyteller Madeleine Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story. Her quest will unveil how Kai, her enigmatic father, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father, the shy and brilliant composer, Sparrow, along with the violin prodigy Zhuli were forced to reimagine their artistic and private selves during China’s political campaigns and how their fates reverberate through the years with lasting consequences.With maturity and sophistication, humor and beauty, Thien has crafted a novel that is at once intimate and grandly political, rooted in the details of life inside China yet transcendent in its universality.