It may be hard to imagine growing up as a young girl in Sudan, raking cow plop, but with gentle restraint, award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney brings readers into the heart and mind of Amira, whose life is forever changed by the Janjaweed’s attacks in Darfur.
Southern writer Tony Earley’s excellently written and highly readable Mr. Tall consists of six stories and a short novella. The characters are a mix of country folks and city people, except for the novella, which contains a mix of real people and mythical characters. Mostly, the stories are about how men and women meet and how they live out their lives together.
Millions of readers love The Great Gatsby, but perhaps none more than Maureen Corrigan. In her enthusiastic new book, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, the NPR book reviewer and Georgetown University lecturer makes an impassioned case that Fitzgerald’s novel should be a strong contender for the “Great American Novel.” Fair enough. She also argues that while most educated readers have read the book, few have given it the consideration it deserves. In view of its enduring stature and sales, this is a hard claim to disprove, but, certainly, few of us have spent as much time with the novel as Corrigan, who, by her own estimate, has read Gatsby some 50 times.
It’s estimated that around 500 women passed themselves off as men so they could fight in the Civil War. In the haunting Neverhome, Laird Hunt deftly imagines one such situation and its heartbreaking repercussions.
Surgeon-turned-author Gabriel Weston made her literary debut with a gripping medical memoir. In her first novel, Dirty Work, she again turns to medicine for inspiration, this time investigating one of its most morally fraught procedures: abortion. In a behind-the-book story, Weston explains why she felt drawn to explore this contentious issue, and why she believes the two sides may be closer together than we think.
In 12-year-old Mysti Murphy’s imagination, she wears a beret and rides a bicycle by the Eiffel Tower. In the real world, she’s counting cans of dog food and rolls of toilet paper to help her family “hold on” until her dad comes home from the hospital. Mysti also keeps a secret: Her mother never leaves the house. To make matters worse, Mysti’s best friend, Anibal, has abandoned her to join the hipster crowd.
Though the “overnight success” story tends to make headlines, debut novels are more often the result of years of hard work and dedication. This month, we’re highlighting four debuts that deserve some time in the spotlight.
Putting a playful spin on school, these picture books depict life in the classroom as a grand adventure, filled with good friends, fun activities and teachers that are wise beyond words.
Most of the time, interviews about an author’s new novel take place a year or so after the book’s completion. So it might take a bit of doing for an author to feel up-to-date, especially if he or she is already ears-deep into the next project. Carlos Ruiz Zafón had to travel much further back in time when he spoke with BookPage from his home in Los Angeles about his fourth young adult novel, Marina: A Gothic Tale, which was first published in his native Spain in 1999.
Stories of human survival and hope after an apocalyptic event are well worn at this point. As a result, the themes and tropes of these tales often feel so trodden and predictable that they become little more than echoes. Then, there are stories like California.