Racism. Oppression. Violence. Faith. Hopefulness. These themes have defined the black experience in America from the moment slaves touched shore. As African Americans continue their struggle, three new books cast fresh light on the journey from slavery to freedom.
A poignant and hilarious memoir about an aging parent, an other-worldly collection of short stories and a critically lauded epic of four friends in New York make for great discussion this month.
From Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to Gone Girl, contemporary marriage has frequently been subject to scathing literary portrayals. Andria Williams, however, may well be the first to set marital tribulations against the backdrop of a (literal) nuclear meltdown. Given this, ahem, explosive premise, it’s interesting to note that Williams’ debut eschews the extremities favored by the likes of Edward Albee or Gillian Flynn. The Longest Night is a closely observed study with its feet planted firmly in domestic realism.
It is impossible to explain fully the beautiful, haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton. Magic? Genius? Certainly much of its power arises from the mesmerizing voice of Lucy Barton, teller of this tale. And much of it comes from the details of the story she slowly unfolds.
Although Paul Kalanithi dreamed of becoming a writer, he first planned to spend 20 years as a neurosurgeon-scientist. Tragically, however, in 2013—during his last year of residency at Stanford—the nonsmoking 36-year-old was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.
It’s hard to write about Shame and Wonder, albeit for good reason. David Searcy’s collection of 21 essays are unlike anything I’ve read before, though they feel achingly familiar. The subject matter is the stuff of everyday life, or an era just passed: comic strips, the prizes in cereal boxes, the craft of folding a perfect paper airplane. But woven through each essay is a haunting quality, humor and loss uncomfortably conjoined on the page.
After a devastating tsunami strikes Osaka, Japan, Kai Ellstrom’s parents send him to stay with family in Oregon until their city stabilizes. Kai barely remembers his father’s brother and family, including his teen cousin Jet, and awkwardness persists until Kai and Jet discover a common interest: their fathers’ boat, the Saga. Kai and Jet decide to sail the Saga in the same race their fathers did as teenagers, but they’re unaware of the unexpected challenges that await them.
There might be water on Mars, but we still only have one home, and it’s constantly surprising us. These imaginative books offer a lively look at our world—and beyond.
Almost 25 years after President George H.W. Bush left office, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham examines the life and career of a figure who seems almost “quaint” by today’s politically polarized standards.
The title of the new volume The Early Stories of Truman Capote is certainly truth in advertising. These are very early stories, written largely when Capote was a teenager, only recently discovered among the writer’s papers in the New York Public Library. A few of the 14 were published in his Greenwich, Connecticut, high school newspaper, but short of any surviving classmates, odds are good that these stories are reaching Capote fans for the first time.