Last year, Jennifer duBois' debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was met with widespread acclaim—and she's just won a 2013 Whiting Writers Award. Her sophomore effort, Cartwheel—"loosely inspired" by the Amanda Knox case—tells the story of an American student in Buenos Aires who's arrested for murdering her roommate. One of the most compelling aspects of the book is that Lily's innocence (or guilt) is open to interpretation. (Read our interview with duBois about Cartwheel.)
We were curious about the books duBois has been reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites:
RABID: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST DIABOLICAL VIRUS
By Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
Rabid maps the history of rabies—from its earliest depictions (and most dubious treatments), to its source as inspiration for the monsters of mythology and literature, to its modern defanging by the rabies vaccine. Part pop science, part cultural anthropology and part ghost story, Rabid is eminently readable and surprisingly funny—I read it like a person possessed.
By J.M. Coetzee
The "disgrace" in J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel begins with the professional ruin of South African academic David Lurie, and grows far more harrowing from there. The prose throughout is elegant and restrained, and haunted at its edges by all that David does not see—but the book quickly teaches you that it is not afraid of ugliness, and that its gaze is keener than its characters’.
By Tom Grimes
This memoir draws a tender portrait of the late Frank Conroy, the award-winning author of Stop-Time and former director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, tracing his role in the author’s life—from formidable stranger to teacher to mentor to, finally, friend. Mentor offers a candid investigation of talent, and the mixed blessings that come with it.
What do you think, readers? Will you be checking out Cartwheel or any of duBois' recommended books?