RaveBooklistAs Charyn, deeply versed in Kosinski’s worlds, reaches back to young Jerzy’s mastering of the art of lying to survive the war, he ultimately portrays a traumatized, desperately masquerading artist 'caught between languages,' identities, and cultures, and between renown and scandal. Daringly imaginative and profoundly insightful.
My Darling DetectiveHoward Norman
RaveBooklistNorman puts a sweetly comic spin on his signature themes to create a delectably clever tribute to cozy crime fiction ... With a masterfully constructed plot, brilliantly realized characters, and deliciously witty repartee, Norman offers a soulful variation on Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, while also addressing the tragic legacies of war, paying homage to books and libraries, and celebrating love. An emotionally vibrant, keenly funny, genuinely suspenseful, and altogether spellbinding novel that will thrill Norman’s fans and readers who relish creative improvisations on the grand noir tradition.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyHannah Tinti
RaveBooklistWith life-or-death struggles in dramatic settings, including a calving glacier, and starring a fiercely loving, reluctant criminal and a girl of grit and wonder, Tinti has forged a breathtaking novel of violence and tenderness.
What It Means When a Man Falls From the SkyLesley Nneka Arimah
RaveBooklist...a slender yet mighty short story collection that delivers one head-snapping smack after another ... Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, she writes with subtlety and poignancy about the struggles of love and hope between daughters and mothers and fathers, including relationships complicated by the legacy of the Biafran War, class divides, and transatlantic separations ... Arimah’s stories of loss, grief, shame, fury, and love are stingingly fresh and complexly affecting.
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand ForDavid McCullough
RaveBooklistIn these clarifying and uplifting presentations, rich in historical anecdotes and portraits, he speaks of freedom and responsibility and 'courage and patience.' At an Independence Day naturalization ceremony at Monticello, he told 'new Americans' that 'the nation is richer for you.' McCullough reminds us, 'If we are beset by problems, we have always been beset by problems.' And we have always drawn on our American spirit and convictions to find our way forward.
RaveBooklist...a work of zealous social critique laced with sexy romantic comedy and a just-in-the-nick-of-time family reconciliation ... With a weirdly nurturing driverless car, a family emergency, a sexy art director, and wrenching and hilarious confrontations and meltdowns, Maum’s incisive, charming, and funny novel ebulliently champions the healing powers of touch, the living world, and love in all its crazy risks, surprises, and sustaining radiance.
Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)David Sedaris
RaveBooklist...a mesmerizing volume of deftly edited passages ... Sedaris is caustically witty about his bad habits and artistic floundering. Even when he cleans up his act, falls in love, and achieves raving success, Sedaris remains self-deprecating and focused on the bizarre and the disquieting. A candid, socially incisive, and sharply amusing chronicle of the evolution of an arresting comedic artist.
Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the OccupationEd. by Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon
RaveBooklistTheir dramatic testimonies are radiant with telling details, vital portraits, and explosive facts. Geraldine Brooks tells the crushing story of two young Palestinian cousins. Dave Eggers meets courageous artists in Gaza, a dehumanizing 'open-air prison.' Assaf Gavron tells harrowing tales of Palestinian soccer players; Porochista Khakpour meets rappers. The soul-crushing bureaucracy of the occupation is exposed in Raja Shehadeh’s narrative about a Palestinian taxi driver and in Chabon’s tale of a businessman. This sensitive, galvanizing, and landmark gathering brings the occupation into sharp focus as a tragedy of fear and tyranny, a monumental failure of compassion and justice, a horrific obstacle to world peace.
RaveBooklistHistorical novels about artists abound, but few attain the psychological intricacy, fluency of imagination, lacerating wit, or intoxicating beauty of Gray’s tale of Isadora Duncan ... As Isadora plunges into near madness, then slowly reclaims her artistic powers, Gray, performing her own extraordinary artistic leap, explores the nexus between body and mind, loss and creativity, love and ambition, and birth and death. The spellbinding result is a mythic, fiercely insightful, mordantly funny, and profoundly revelatory portrait of an intrepid and indelible artist.
You Don't Have To Say You Love MeSherman Alexie
RaveBooklist...a profoundly candid union of prose and poetry catalyzed by the recent death of his Spokane Indian mother, Lillian, one of the last to speak their tribal language, a legendary quilter, and a fighter to the end. Alexie’s deeply delving remembrance expresses a snarl of conflicting emotions, ranging from anger to awe, and reveals many tragic dangers and traumas of reservation life, from the uranium dust generated by nearby mines, which caused Lillian’s lung cancer, to the malignant legacy of genocide: identity crises, poverty, alcoholism, and violence, especially rape, in which the 'epically wounded . . . turned their rage' on each other. Alexie chronicles his own suffering as a boy born hydrocephalic and an adult diagnosed as bipolar, and tracks his flight from the rez and his life as a writer, pouring himself into every molten word. Courageous, anguished, grateful, and hilarious, this is an enlightening and resounding eulogy and self-portrait.
The Accomplished GuestAnn Beattie
RaveBooklistThese gorgeously complicated, psychologically astute tales are catalyzed by holiday gatherings, weddings, birthday celebrations, and reunions, joyous occasions wildly derailed by divorce, sibling rivalry, generational clashes, financial disasters, violence, and medical emergencies. The directions in which these encounters veer are beyond unexpected, thanks to Beattie’s puckish imagination ... Beattie’s profoundly intriguing and unsettling stories abound in delectably witty and furious inner monologues, barbed dialogue, ludicrous predicaments, many-faceted heartaches, and abrupt upwellings of affection, even love.
Between Them: Remembering My ParentsRichard Ford
RaveBooklist...an exquisitely sensitive double portrait of his parents ... Illustrated with family photographs, Ford’s remembrance of his parents is a masterful distillation of sensuous description, psychological intricacy, social insights, and a keen sense of place. Ford’s reflections are bright with wit, edgy with candor, and lustrous with extraordinary poignancy and love.
Grief CottageGail Godwin
RaveBooklistWith intriguingly eccentric supporting characters and a dramatic setting, Godwin’s riveting and wise story of the slow coalescence of trust and love between a stoic artist and a grieving boy, and of nature’s glory and indifference, subtly and insightfully explores different forms of haunting and vulnerability, strength and survival ... [a] tender and spellbinding supernatural novel.
American WarOmar El Akkad
RaveBooklist...[a] vigorously well-informed, daringly provocative speculative first novel ... El Akkad has created a brilliantly well-crafted, profoundly shattering saga of one family’s suffering in a world of brutal power struggles, terrorism, ignorance, and vengeance. American War is a gripping, unsparing, and essential novel for dangerously contentious times.
Do Not Become AlarmedMaile Meloy
RaveBooklistInfusing literary fiction with criminality and terror in a mode similar to that of Ann Patchett and Hannah Tinti, Meloy compounds the suspense in this gripping and incisive tale by orchestrating a profoundly wrenching shift in perspective, and morality, as well-meaning tourists face the dark realities of a complex place they viewed merely as a playground. Meloy’s commanding, heart-revving, and thought-provoking novel has enormous power and appeal.
The Graybar HotelCurtis Dawkins
RaveBooklist...[a] staggering debut collection ... Each tale of incarceration expands this theater of grim comedy, repercussive tragedy, and warped adaptation ... In stories that range from high-definition realism to wistful surrealism, Dawkins illuminates the nuances of prison life from the fragility of inmate friendships to the constant assault of memories and regrets, sensual deprivation, the intricate web of lies and power plays, and the many shades of stoicism. Sorrowful, hard-hitting, and compassionate, these finely formed, quietly devastating stories are told with unusual and magnetizing authority.
What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their StoriesLaura Shapiro
RaveBooklist...six crisply written, ardently researched, and entertainingly revelatory portraits of very different women with complicated relationships with eating and cooking ... A bounteous and elegant feast for hungry minds.