South African novelist Lauren Beukes, author of last year's supernatural thriller The Shining Girls, returns this fall with a new violent mash-up of fantasy and crime fiction. Broken Monsters is set to publish on September 16 by Mulholland Books.
Beukes had us on the edges of our seats with her wildly imaginative, uber-creepy second novel, the international best-selling The Shining Girls. With the help of a portal in a mysterious House, an unfathomably cruel serial killer travels through time to hunt his victims—all women. The only one of his targets to ever escape is Kirby, who decides to track down the villain and put an end to his murderous reign.
Broken Monsters once again finds a capital-B Bad Guy who indulges his sick compulsions, this time in abandoned Detroit warehouses. The publisher gives a preview:
Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused. The cops nickname him "Bambi," but as stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?
If you're Detective Versado's over-achieving teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you are the disgraced journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to investigate what may become the most heinous crime story in memory. If you're Thomas Keen—known on the street as TK—you'll do what you can to keep clean, keep your head down, and try to help the broken and possibly visionary artist obsessed wth setting loose The Dream, tearing reality, assembling the city anew.
What do you think, readers? Looking forward to getting creeped out by Beukes' newest horror-filled vision?
• 101 Books debunks 5 literary legends, including the one about Dr. Seuss and Kurt Vonnegut.
• Coming next year from Random House is Garlic in Fiction, a new collection of works by Shirley Jackson, culled from her archives and edited by two of her children. It'll feature stories, drawings, lectures—can't wait!
• Something you don't have to wait for: Zadie Smith's new short story from The Paris Review.
• Short on free time for reading? Flavorwire has put together a list of 50 incredible novels under 200 pages, including Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, and The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.
• In movie news, last year's National Book Award winner for fiction, The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, is heading to the big screen, with Liev Schreiber and Jaden Smith set to star. Are you looking forward to seeing it?
• Finally, BuzzFeed gets inside the mind of legendary romance cover model, Fabio. Enjoy!
Occasionally, a work of nonfiction comes along that completely changes the way we look at a problem—or brings an issue into focus for the first time. Such was the case with Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss, first published in May 1994 and now available in a revised and updated 20th anniversary edition. Author Hope Edelman was only 29 years old when the book was released, and as she notes in a recent blog post, promotional events like an appearance on the "Today" show left her terrified. Despite the author's inexperience, the book went on to sell more than a half a million copies, prompted considerable thought and discussion, and was translated into 11 languages. Motherless Daughter support groups sprang up to help women deal with the lifelong after effects of growing up without a mother's love and guidance.
Motherless Daughters grew out of Edelman's own experience of losing her mother to breast cancer when she was 17. Using skills she honed at the Medill School of Journalism and the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, she began to investigate what happens to girls and young women whose mothers die. After reviewing scientific studies and conducting hundreds of interviews with women, Edelman concluded that a mother's death can have lasting repercussions in many areas of a daughter's life, including her sibling relationships, her romantic relationships and her relationships with her own children. "Losing my mother wasn't just a fact about me," she writes in the book's introduction. "It was the core of my identity, my very state of being."
After Motherless Daughters was published, hundreds of women wrote to Edelman with their own stories of grief and healing. Excerpts from these personal accounts were compiled in Letters from Motherless Daughters, a companion volume also available in an updated edition with new letters. In addition, Edelman's book has inspired a new HBO documentary, The (Dead Mothers) Club, which follows three young women dealing with the deaths of their mothers. The film debuts May 12 on HBO and includes interviews with Rosie O'Donnell, Jane Fonda and Molly Shannon, who all lost their mothers early in life.
Edelman's groundbreaking work stands the test of time, offering not only comfort and understanding to mother-loss survivors, but also valuable information for anyone coping with devastating loss and grief.
Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby want to help home cooks achieve "big flavor without big effort" with their new cookbook, The Big-Flavor Grill: No-Marinade, No-Hassle Recipes. Today's recipe is for Grilled Corn with Basil and Parmesan, a super quick and flavorful side dish that just might steal the show at your next outdoor BBQ.
Super-Basic Grilled Corn
Build a two-level fire in your grill, which means you put all the coals on one side of the grill and leave the other side free of coals. When the flames have died down, all the coals are covered with gray ash and the temperature is medium (you can hold your hand 6 inches above the grill for 4 to 5 seconds), you’re ready to cook.
Rub the corn ears all over with the oil and sprinkle them with the salt and pepper. Put the ears on the grill directly over the coals and cook, rolling them around to ensure all of the sides are getting some attention from the fire, until they are golden brown all over, which should take 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill, place the ears in a large bowl (along with some butter if you like) and serve.
| Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish |
Grilled Corn with Basil and Parmesan
With super fresh corn and basil right out of the garden, this dish has the unmistakable flavor of summer—but then we throw in some cheese, because after all, why not get that complexity and richness?
While the fire heats up, get these ingredients ready but keep them separate in small individual containers:
Follow the recipe for Super-Basic Grilled Corn on page 206.
When the corn comes off the grill, put it in a big bowl, add all the other ingredients one after another and toss so the corn gets well coated.
The fun will actually begin on Tuesday (April 22) evening, though, with more than 20 author events planned to kick things off. Check out all of the who, when and where details to see if there will be a celebration near you.
Then, next Wednesday night, thousands of volunteers will be giving away 550,000 copies of books to light or non-readers in under-served communities. The list of 38 books to be distributed includes fiction and nonfiction, new books and classics, as well as several YA titles and even a collection of poetry.
The WBN folks have created a handy interactive map detailing all of the giveaway locations across the country, and there's also a list of participating bookstores and libraries, sorted by state.
All participants are encouraged to write about their experiences and enter the WBN ebook essay contest. The winning essays will be featured in an ebook to be distributed at next year's World Book Night. Check out all of the contest details here.
The World Book Night tagline says it all: spreading the love of reading, person to person. Will you be taking part? If so, we'd love to hear about it! Share your plans—or past WBN experiences—in the comments section, below.
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann (translated by Barbara J. Haveland)
Other Press • $15.95 • ISBN 9781590516676
published April 8, 2014
Norwegian author Linn Ullmann's The Cold Song was a hit with readers and critics when it was first published in Norway in 2011. Lucky for us, an English edition (translated by Barbara J. Haveland) has just arrived stateside. Set in an elegant house on the coast of Norway, the novel takes a peek into the lives of married couple Siri and Jon, and their family. Siri is a super-busy and successful chef with her own restaurant to run. Jon is a novelist struggling with his current book.
The Cold Song doesn't so much unfold as it revolves, around the sudden disappearance of Milla, the young and beautiful summer nanny hired to take care of Siri and Jon's two children. The real "meat" of the novel rests in its keen and unflinching exposure of the inner lives of its characters, revealed in brief spurts of narrative that shift back and forth in time. The result is riveting. Here's an excerpt:
Jon Dreyer had fooled everyone.
He was in the attic room at Mailund, that dilapidated white turn-of-the-century house, where the Dreyer-Brodal family spent their summers. He was looking at Milla.
The room was small and bright and dusty with a view of the meadow and the woods and of Milla picking flowers with his children. His wife, she of the asymmetric back (a little kink in her waist, that's all), owned a restaurant in the center of town, in the old bakery. Siri was her name.
Siri was at work.
He was at work too.
His work was right here. He had his desk, his computer, this is where he was left in peace. He had a book to finish.
But he was looking at Milla.
Will you be adding The Cold Song to your TBR list? What are you reading this week?
The story unfolds in three separate sections, each centered on the larger story of the Hungarian Gold Train during World War II. Readers follow three different men through three different time periods: Jack, a young Jewish-American captain in the war; Amitai, an Israeli-born art dealer in the current day who deals with repatriated items; and Dr. Zobel, a pioneering psychiatrist at the turn of the 20th century in Budapest.
An intricate gemstone peacock pendant holds the key to the novel's decades-spanning mystery, but the male narrators and Waldman's unique female characters (Jack's love Ilona, his daughter Natalie and the suffragette Gizella) truly make this novel shine.
Watch the captivating trailer for Love & Treasure below:
What do you think, readers? Are you interested in this new historical novel?
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our web-exclusive Q&A with Waldman for more on Love & Treasure!
Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries were favorites of mine in my teen years, and I recently decided to avoid the TBR pile that's staring me down and revisit them. Set in the late 20s and early 30s, the 11-book series follows the crime-solving career of the debonair Lord Peter, whose idle aristocratic mien (complete with monocle) is at odds with his sharp wit and vigorous pursuit of crooks of all sorts. My favorite Wimseys are the ones that feature his relationship with Harriet Vane, and Strong Poison, #6 in the series, marks her first appearance.
When Lord Peter and Harriet meet, Harriet is on trial for the murder of her ex-lover, an annoying failed-artist type who appears to have succumbed to arsenic poisoning. Given that Harriet, a mystery novelist, has just completed a manuscript about a murderer who uses—you guessed it—arsenic on one of his victims, she is the main suspect. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, but the jury is hung. A retrial is scheduled, giving Peter just one month to prove the innocence of the woman who has suddenly (and not at all purposely) stolen his heart.
The relationship between Harriet and Peter is notable in its honesty and hard-fought egalitarianism—which makes it all the more romantic. Harriet is bitter and burned after her last encounter with love, and whatever feelings she might have considered entertaining for Peter are complicated by the fact that she must feel grateful to him for his efforts to clear her name.
This all sounds very intense, so perhaps I should say that it's not. Like her protagonist, Sayers is a master at putting a light and clever spin on even the most serious of topics, mainly with her sparkling dialogue (an adjective that's overused, but very appropriate here). Here's the response to one of Peter's proposals to Harriet, during a visit to the prison:
“It's very good of you—"
"No, no, not at all. It's my hobby. Not proposing to people, I don't mean, but investigating things. Well, cheer-frightfully-ho and all that. And I'll call again, if I may."
"I will give the footman orders to admit you," said the prisoner, gravely, "you will always find me at home.”
Or take this conversation between Wimsey and Miss Climpson, "a tough, thin, elderly woman with a sound digestion and a militant High Church conscience of remarkable staying power" who is on Harriet's jury and whom he later sends to investigate an element of the case:
“Do you know how to pick a lock?"
"Not in the least, I'm afraid."
"I often wonder what we go to school for," said Wimsey.
Harriet's position as a novelist also allows for Sayers to get in some marvelous jabs on the subject of writing:
“I say—I've thought of a good plot for a detective story."
"Top-hole. You know, the sort that people bring out and say 'I've often thought of doing it myself, if only I could find time to sit down and write it.' I gather that sitting down is all that is necessary for producing masterpieces.”
Sayers had a degree in modern languages and considered her translation work (which includes a version of The Divine Comedy) to be her greatest legacy. But her logical and well-ordered mind served her well when constructing her intricate mysteries. When she died, Sayers left two incomplete books in the Wimsey series, which were eventually completed by a novelist chosen by the estate, Jill Paton Walsh. (Walsh has gone on to write another Wimsey/Vane book on her own, with a second, The Late Scholar, scheduled for release this summer.) I am a little afraid to read these, since it's hard to believe that another writer could capture such iconic characters in just the way that Sayers did . . . but I may have to give them a try.
What have you been rereading lately?
“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”
Find the list of winners in all categories here.
Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel, You Should Have Known, is the type of unrelenting page-turner that keeps readers (including myself) up way into the night, simply unable to put it down. Our reviewer calls the taut story of how the comfortable and predictable life of a Manhattan therapist is completely upended "an insightful, compelling tale." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Korelitz has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
Blood Will Out
By Walter Kirn
Last week I gave a reading with my friend, novelist Jane Green, at R.J. Julia bookstore in Madison, Connecticut. R.J. Julia is one of the great bookstores—warm and friendly and full of people who love books. The store has a very sweet tradition of thanking writers who come to give readings by letting them choose a book from the stock. Here’s the funny part: thousands of books to choose from and Jane and I both picked the same one: Walter Kirn’s new memoir, Blood Will Out. I’ve been fascinated by the Clark Rockefeller case since I first read about it in 2008, as I am fixated on sociopaths in general. But Kirn, who actually met Rockefeller (or “Rockefeller”) in 1998 and maintained a connection with him for years, had a front row seat to his constant myth making. Kirn’s willingness to examine his own culpability in accepting these falsehoods makes his memoir a powerful examination of deceit and its even creepier cousin, self-deception.
How I Became Hettie Jones
By Hettie Jones
I had dinner at the American Academy of Arts and Letters the other night with my husband (he’s the member, not I!). The room was so full of important writers, artists and composers that even the most determined name-dropper would run out of steam before getting through a fraction of them, but I was most truly thrilled to be sitting with the daughters of Amiri Baraka (who’d been memorialized in a pre-dinner ceremony). I’ve had no special feelings for Baraka, but their mother, Hettie Jones, is the author of one of my very favorite memoirs, the sublimely entitled How I Became Hettie Jones. The book is Hettie’s account of leaving her Queens childhood for Beat Generation art and bohemia in 1950s Greenwich Village, marriage to poet and playwright Baraka (then known as Le Roi Jones), and what it was like to be a white woman married to a black man who ultimately came to feel that he could no longer be a black man who was married to a white woman. Their daughters, who are my age, are characters in a book I’ve loved for twenty years; talking to them and hearing about their lives only made me want to read it again.
By Alison Bechdel
Last fall I was lucky enough to see the Public Theater’s production of Fun Home, a musical adapted from Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir of the same name. I’m not a big fan of graphic anything, and had only vaguely heard of Bechdel, but I was so wowed by the power of Bechdel’s work that I went rushing out to read all of her books. Bechdel is a deeply cerebral writer, processing and reprocessing the motifs of her life with reference to literature, philosophy and psychological theory. Her story may not sound outwardly eventful (father, mother and three children grow up in an old Pennsylvania home; the daughter’s gradual self-identification as a lesbian may or may not create a crisis of identity in her closeted father), but Bechdel manages to funnel an entire world of ideas into and out or her autobiographical material. I loved Fun Home and Bechdel’s more recent Are You My Mother?, but I had the best time of all with the omnibus edition of her hilarious and wonderful syndicated strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Am I converted to “graphic anything”? Nope. But I’ll read whatever Bechdel writes from this point on. And if Fun Home transfers to Broadway, I’m definitely going to see it again.
(Author photo by Mark Czajkowski)