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New Books Tuesday: Your weekly guide to what’s publishing today, fiction and nonfiction.

Emily Temple

July 23, 2019, 10:00am

Every week, a new crop of great new books hit the shelves. If we could read them all, we would, but since time is finite and so is the human capacity for page-turning, here are a few of the ones we’ll be starting with. What are you reading this week?


Laura Lippman, Lady in the Lake

Laura Lippman, Lady in the Lake
(William Morrow)

Lippman’s latest takes us back to Baltimore to explore the world of journalism in the 1960s, and the lives of two women—Maddie Schwartz, a 37-year-old Jewish woman who, after leaving her husband and son, doggedly pursues a career as a reporter; and Cleo Sherwood, a black waitress whose body was recently found in a city fountain, and about whom little is known. As the overconfident and naive Maddie obsessively investigates the murder, she encounters characters at the margins of society, from a bartender to the first black policewoman. Lippman tells a story both personal and political, painting a vivid picture of a city, its newsroom, and the privilege and tragedy that characterized the time.

–Camille LeBlanc, CrimeReads Editorial Fellow

Daniel Nieh, Beijing Payback

Daniel Nieh, Beijing Payback

This self-assured debut is both a rollicking good adventure and a stirring meditation on the complexities of modern identity. When college basketball player Victor Li’s father is found murdered, he teams up with his father’s mysterious business associates to investigate (against the advice of his very practical and awesome sister who I wish was real just so we could be friends), and ends up on the trip of a lifetime.

–Molly Odintz, CrimeReads Associate Editor

H. G. Parry, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep

H. G. Parry, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep

If you’re reading this space, you’re probably pretty interested in books, and if you’re pretty interested in books, you’ll probably like this one: a charming debut in which a young boy developed the uncanny ability to bring literary characters (like Uriah Heep) to life—literally. And honestly, anything that the notoriously cranky Kirkus calls “just plain wonderful” is worth a shot.

Nina Stibbe, Reasons to Be Cheerful

Nina Stibbe, Reasons to Be Cheerful
(Little, Brown)

Another entry in Stibbe’s series about the very quirky exploits of Lizzie Vogel and her odd but charming family; in this volume, she’s 18, and entering adulthood on rather shaky legs. Filled with minor capers, keen observations, and English humor.

J. Ryan Stradhal, The Lager Queen of Minnesota

J. Ryan Stradhal, The Lager Queen of Minnesota

A warm, funny Midwestern romp about three women, family rifts (and family mendings) and the world of beer brewing.


The Grave on the Wall by Brandon Shimoda

Brandon Shimoda, The Grave on the Wall
(City Lights)

In this memoir, Shimoda, an American poet of Japanese descent, tells the story of his family, starting with his grandfather, who was transformed into an “enemy alien” by World War II; and in doing so, tells a universal story of the horrors of war both physical and emotional, and the tensions that linger among people long after the wars are over. “Sometimes a work of art functions as a dream,” wrote Myriam Gurba. “At other times, a work of art functions as a conscience. In the tradition of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo,Brandon Shimoda’s The Grave on the Wall is both. It is also the type of fragmented reckoning only America could instigate.”

Gretchen McCulloch, Because Internet

Gretchen McCulloch, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

An examination of the evolution of the English language and the way we communicate in the era of the Internet, from the writer of Wired‘s “Resident Linguist” column. Fun fact: “lol” was invented by a Canadian in a chatroom. (Or, probably.)

Richard Preston, Crisis in the Red Zone

Richard Preston, Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come (Random House)

In which Preston, the author of The Hot Zone, a bestselling horror novel that is also true, revisits the Ebola virus, the deadly outbreak of 2013-2014, and what’s next for earthlings and infectious diseases. I’d really like to put this one in the freezer.

Harriet A. Washington, A Terrible Thing to Waste

Harriet A. Washington, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind
(Little, Brown Spark)

Lead paint, pollution, unsafe waste practices—why are these things so much more likely in American communities of color? In this volume, Washington unpacks the causes of “environmental poisoning” as well as the long term damage that it can do, not only to our children, but to our country as a whole.

Guy Leschziner, The Nocturnal Brain

Guy Leschziner, The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep
(St. Martin’s Press)

If you too are obsessed with your own sleep—and if you’re getting enough, and if you’re getting the right kind, and what happens if you’re not—this popular science account from a consulting neurologist and sleep physician at Guy’s Hospital in London may intrigue you. At the very least, it’ll help you schedule some time away from your screen before bed.

If your house is haunted by a book-hating ghost, the Wirecutter can’t help you.

Jessie Gaynor

July 22, 2019, 2:55pm

It may be summer, but that doesn’t mean you can only read on the beach. You can also read in your home! Unless, that is, your home is haunted by a ghost that hates books. If all your home ghosts love books, though, the Wirecutter, the New York Times property that tells you which things are good things to buy, has some tips for how to read at home. You may need new lightbulbs, or new lamps, even. You might have the wrong pillows. Your glasses might be the wrong prescription, which would make reading harder.

The question the Wirecutter fails to answer, and has frankly failed to answer in every article ever published on the site, is What am I going to do about this ghost who hates books, because books fill a person’s heads with dangerous ideas, ideas that might temporarily distract them from their own mortality, which this ghost naturally considers an affront to its whole ghosty thing.

The Wirecutter does suggest some noise-cancelling headphones you could buy, though I’m not convinced those wouldn’t just make the ghost angrier. Anyway, happy reading!


N. Scott Momaday awarded Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Dan Sheehan

July 22, 2019, 12:21pm

Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday has been named as this year’s winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award—a lifetime achievement award celebrating literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.

The pioneering Kiowa novelist, short story writer, essayist, poet, and academic—who has devoted his life to preserving Native American oral and cultural traditions—became the first Indigenous writer to win the Pulitzer Prize when his lyrical novel about a young man named Abel who returns to his New Mexico reservation after fighting in WWII, House Made of Dawn, took home the award in 1969. House Made of Dawn would go on to be credited with leading a renaissance in Native American literature.

Momaday, a UNESCO Artist for Peace and an Oklahoma poet laureate, is also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas and was honored with the 2007 National Medal of Arts for “introducing millions worldwide to the essence of Native American culture.”

“The history of human experience is in many ways a history of dysfunction and conflict, and literature, because it is an accurate record of that history, reflects not only what is peaceful, but what is the universal hope and struggle for peace,” Momaday said in his statement. “Literature and peace are at last indivisible. They form an equation that is the definition of art and humanity.”

Listen to some jazz inspired by Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies.

Emily Temple

July 22, 2019, 10:30am

Today in Nice Things on the Internet, No Really, They Exist: a piece of music written by Mason Moy for the JMU Jazz Band, named after Lauren Groff’s novel Fates and Furies. The piece, directed by Dave Stringham, is lovely—and I may be biased (as someone personally addicted to Max Richter’s Virginia Woolf-inspired classical album, don’t @ me) but the connection with a great work of literature only improves it.

“That this exists just makes me happy,” Groff wrote on Twitter. “The art of others moves me to make my work every single day; it feels almost holy, a glimpse of the greater communal purpose of art, to know that my work has inspired another to creation.”

Listen here:

Announcing the 2020 finalists for the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize.

Emily Temple

July 22, 2019, 10:00am

World Literature Today has announced the nine finalists for the 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. According to a press release, the prize, which comes with a $50,000 purse, “recognizes significant contributions to world literature and has a history as a lead-up to the Nobel Prize in Literature.” It is also “one of the very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, screenwriters and playwrights are equally eligible.”

The finalists are:

Emmanuel Carrère (France), author of The Adversary

Jorie Graham (United States), author of Fast

Jessica Hagedorn (Philippines / United States), author of Dogeaters

Eduardo Halfón (Guatemala), author of Mourning

Ismail Kadare (Albania), author of Broken April

Sahar Khalifeh (Palestine), author of Wild Thorns

Abdellatif Laâbi (Morocco), author of Beyond the Barbed Wire

Lee Maracle (Canada), author of Celia’s Song

Hoa Nguyen (Vietnam / United States), author of Red Juice

“It is exciting to have such an esteemed group of writers vying for the Neustadt Prize,” said Robert Con Davis-Undiano, executive director of World Literature Today, the prize sponsor, in the same release. “Literature is a powerful voice that teaches us about the world beyond ourselves. This truly international slate of finalists demonstrates once again that excellent literature knows no borders.”

The winner will be announced on October 16th at the 2019 Neustadt Lit Fest.