We tend to think of William Styron as a novelist—and rightly so, given the enduring power of such works at The Confessions of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice. Yet Styron, who would have been 90 years old on June 11, was also a prolific and gifted writer of nonfiction, as the doorstop-sized new collection, My Generation, makes plain. This gathering of essays, journalism, book reviews, memoirs and occasional pieces, written over 50 years, offers a congenial glimpse into this eminent American writer’s life and mind.
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.”
Much like Ana, the heroine of her engrossing debut novel, Sara Nović isn’t entirely sure where to call home. “This is what I’m trying to figure out,” the author says, laughing, in a recent interview. “I really don’t know.”
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.
A dose of dark humor, a captivating historical novel and the 2014 National Book Award winner for fiction make great selections for reading groups this month.
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.