Norman Lear wants to show you his scrapbook, and—after 92 years—it’s a pretty thick one. Although he established himself as a comedy writer at the dawn of television in 1950, writing for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Lear didn’t really become a public figure until the 1970s. During that golden decade, he revolutionized TV with such socially conscious sitcoms as “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons” and “One Day at a Time.” Unlike the comedies that preceded them, these series explored such touchy subjects as racism, ethnic prejudices, homophobia, women’s rights, abortion, sex education and single parenthood.
In December 1976, two days before the Smile Jamaica concert to promote political unity, armed gunmen walked into reggae star Bob Marley’s house at 56 Hope Road in Kingston and began shooting. Marley sustained injuries in his arm and chest; his wife, Rita, was hit as she raced to protect their children; and his manager, Don Taylor, was also injured. In Marlon James’ powerful new novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, the attack is the centerpiece of a blistering commentary on Jamaica in the 1970s and its inextricable links both to Cold War politics and to the drug wars of the following decade.
As a longtime Picoult fan, I was anxious to devour her latest novel, Leaving Time. And she doesn’t disappoint: Once again, Picoult has masterfully woven what appear to be incongruous events and people together into one captivating and emotional story. This time around, the author’s extensive research on elephants and their surprisingly human emotions are a highlight. But wait, there’s more: She has also included a down-on-her-luck psychic, a spunky teen and a haunting murder.
Russian-born Alina Bronsky made a splash with 2011’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, with praise from sources as varied as The Daily Beast and the Financial Times. She’s back with a third novel, Just Call Me Superhero, serving up more biting wit and a no-frills style that readers can eat up in big, satisfying chunks.
This luminous novel is only Robinson’s fourth in a writing career that has spanned nearly as many decades—which makes each one of her works all the more precious.
Colm Tóibín’s new novel, Nora Webster, never strays from the quiet, deceptive simplicity of its storytelling, and yet this persuasive portrait of a compelling woman blossoms into something greater than the sum of its parts. Set in a small town in County Wexford, Ireland, in the early 1970s, it is the story of a mother navigating the first, tentative days and months of a premature widowhood.
Set in the wealthy fictional town of Haverport, New York, The Doubt Factory is the story of one teen’s determination to fight society’s most overlooked evil—the public relations industry that covers up and spins corporate atrocities, even if the worst firm happens to be headed by her own father.
Most non-poetry-reading Americans first encountered Richard Blanco in 2013, when he was the presidential inauguration poet. On that occasion, his moving poem “One Today” made passing reference to his Spanish-speaking mother who rang up groceries for 20 years and his father who cut sugarcane so Richard could move ahead in the family’s new country.
In this standalone companion to the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning Elijah of Buxton, author Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the Canadian town founded in the 1860s by former African-American slaves. Although few of the original settlers still live in Buxton in 1901, one of their descendants, Benji Alston, stands out. An aspiring newspaper reporter, Benji understands the power of the written word and enters an apprenticeship with Miss Cary, the daughter of real-life Mary Ann Camberton Shadd, an abolitionist and journalist in neighboring Chatham. Also residing in Chatham is Alvin “Red” Stockard, who is often mistreated by his bitter and racist grandmother, who suffered during the Irish immigration to Canada during “The Great Hunger.”
Lucy Stone usually lets the mysteries come to her quaint hometown of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, but in the 21st installment of the Lucy Stone Mystery series, the popular sleuth is unexpectedly whisked off to the romantic streets of Paris. It’s not a first for Stone, as prolific series author Leslie Meier has sent her on junkets to Manhattan and England on occasion. Still, in French Pastry Murder, she’s a little out of her element.