Octavia Butler, John Muir, Shirley Hazzard: Books Briefing


Tarka the Otter, by Henry Williamson: “Williamson’s animals are not people, they are not symbols, and they do not speak. They are life itself.”

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If you’re looking for a page-turner:

Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban: “It’s a work of complete fiction—an entirely made-up world with its own gravitational integrity, its own language, its own codes, its own myths, its own poetry, almost its own sense of humor—that breaks upon our world like the truth.”

The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa: “Ogawa has written an astonishing novel about an island on which objects—perfume, harmonicas, boats—disappear.”

Catherine House, by Elisabeth Thomas: “Thomas’s debut novel weaves a thrilling, compact story that builds dread slowly … as she begins to reveal the darkness at work on campus.”

The End of October, by Lawrence Wright: “I can already tell that … it will offer a kind of relief I yearn for these days: It’s crammed with expertise, thoroughly absorbed and deployed in a timely way.”

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If you need smart observations about life:

Too Much and Not the Mood, by Durga Chew-Bose: “The stillness of isolation allows [Chew-Bose]—and, perhaps, her quarantined readers—to notice the small marvels that surround humans every day, even in a lonely apartment.”

Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, by Geoff Dyer: “Dyer turns his attention—all of it, zooming madly in—to the clunky ’60s war thriller Where Eagles Dare, dilating and inflating and comedically depressurizing the movie in a sequence of scene-by-scene riffs.”

The Folded Clock, by Heidi Julavits: “Julavits is not recording events so much as the strange, maddening, wonderful sensations of being alive.”

Here for It, by R. Eric Thomas: “This essay-collection-slash-memoir dissects Thomas’s identity as a gay black Christian man, examining pivotal stages in his life … to better understand why he often didn’t feel gay enough or black enough, man enough or simply good enough.”

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If you’re in the mood for a quest:

Dawn, by Octavia Butler: “A young woman named Lilith wakes up on an alien spaceship and finds herself charged with a gargantuan task: preparing a group of humans for their eventual return to a postapocalyptic Earth.”

Days of Distraction, by Alexandra Chang: “Chang’s 25-year-old narrator is in what may feel to many like a familiar position: listless and lonely, stuck on her laptop at home, and tied a little too closely to a partner who suddenly seems like a stranger.”

Lose Your Mother, by Saidiya Hartman: “A chronicle of [a] journey along a slave route in Ghana, Lose Your Mother … is not a light read, but Hartman’s prose is as vivid and intimate as it is arresting.”

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin: “A physicist-philosopher named Shevek journeys from an inhospitable moon populated by nobly struggling anarchists to the opulent and unequal planet those people fled a few generations earlier.”

Rosa Inocencio Smith

2020-05-22 10:00:00

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