“The sleep of reason produces monsters.” These words can be found in an etching by Francisco Goya, reproduced at the beginning of Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (or 1,001 nights, that magical number). It’s a nightmarish image of a young man asleep, slumped over a table as a horde of wide-eyed and shadowy creatures bear down upon him.
It takes a writer of immense confidence and talent to fashion beautiful stories that chronicle ordinary people coping with devastating challenges. Adam Johnson demonstrated this talent in his novel The Orphan Master’s Son, which received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He now does the same in Fortune Smiles, a collection of six powerful short stories in which characters are forced to contend with some of life’s biggest tragedies.
The residents of the Gulf Coast in the 1770s and 1780s saw the American Revolution differently from the rebelling colonists in the north.In her richly detailed and riveting Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution, historian Kathleen DuVal explores what the war and its aftermath meant in the lives of eight individuals who lived in an area with many competing interests.
In Sarah Nović’s first novel, Girl at War, her protagonist Ana Jurić lives “suspended between the living and the dead” after witnessing the atrocities of the Croatian War of Independence.
From a bicycle trip through Chile and Argentina to a South African journey to report on Nelson Mandela’s final days, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw had no intention of slowing down as he celebrated his 73rd birthday in February 2013. What he didn’t count on was a cancer diagnosis a few months later that would transform the next 16 months of his life into one in which cancer became “the scrim through which all of life is viewed.”
A series of family portraits, with border art as special as the families within, provide the framework for Families, Families, Families! The wife and husband team of writer Suzanne Lang and award-winning illustrator Max Lang have combined the talents in their family to create an utterly charming picture book about the varied nature of families.
“Anna was a good wife, mostly.” So opens Jill Alexander Essbaum’s remarkable debut novel, the mesmerizing story of Anna Benz, an American expatriate who has lived in Zurich for nine years with her husband, Bruno—a Swiss banker—and their three children.
Kelly Link tends to inspire a range of comparisons to other authors—usually, some blend of Angela Carter and Haruki Murakami—but, in fact, nobody writes stories like hers. Link’s fantastical worlds feel utterly real, partly because they’re intensely matter-of-fact. Her characters are sassy, moody and cool, and they never, ever make any big deal out of the fact that there are monsters, aliens, vampires or ghosts hanging around, or that they might stumble into a pocket universe or some alternate dimension. Mostly they’re concerned with cute guys and flirting and drinks, plus occasionally needing to save the world.
Finding the Worm is Mark Goldblatt’s second book about Julian Twerski and his 34th Avenue gang, based on the author’s childhood experiences in Queens, New York. The sequel to Twerp continues with language that is simple and accessible but packs a punch, especially when dealing with the sensitive topic of cancer.
Slinking through the grass with panache, Duck believes he is a cat, just like his friend Cat. Or, at the very least, he will be when he grows up. But when Duck tries to follow Cat up a tree, his lack of claws (and general lack of catness) becomes sadly apparent.