October 26, 2016
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.
A 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.
October 19, 2016
Potentially appealing to readers far outside his Daily Show fan base, South African Trevor Noah is coming out with a book about his childhood as the mixed race son of a German Swiss father (who could never openly acknowledge him and was never asked to) and a fanatically religious, shrewd, headstrong and affectionately tough Xhosa mother, who told authorities when he was born that he was from Swaziland. Born a Crime is surprising, tense, thoughtfully original, and so often very funny, especially the correspondence between him and his mother, who insisted at one point that he could only argue with her if he wrote formal letters explaining himself. Cat lovers advised (Noah himself doesn’t hurt them). Arc for first commenter.
Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime. Random House. November 15th.
Publisher Summary: …Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother–his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love…
October 6, 2016
Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale seems to have gotten a lot of mentions in this week’s EarlyWord Galley Chat and has supernatural elements. It doesn’t come out until January but is already generating holds in our system.
Books for Living is a biography by Will Schwalbe, famous for The End of Your Life Book Club, a perennial favorite in our discussion kit collection as well as a power circulater (over 500 times) in the regular nonfiction collection.
Please comment to claim.
Arden, Katherine. The Bear and the Nightingale. Del Rey.
Schwalbe, Will. Books for Living. Knopf.
October 6, 2016
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.
Besides Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn, we also have
Jiles, Paulett. News of the World. William Morrow.
Publisher 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.
Publisher 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.
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.