Buruma, Kaplan, & a Neruda Biography | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Mar. 2018

Buruma, Ian. A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781101981412. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101981429. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR
A leading public intellectual, the author of numerous award-winning titles, and named among 100 top global thinkers of 2010 by Foreign Policy, Buruma has succeeded Robert B. Silvers as the editor of the New York Review of Books. And if none of that was the case, this memoir would still be fascinating. Buruma reports on his arrival in Japan as a naïve young man who felt out of place back home and was seeking something different in Tokyo: the scarily forthright and visceral sense of humanity he found in the Japanese theater performances and films he had encountered in Paris and Amsterdam. Both personal account and sociological study.

Eisner, Mark. Neruda: The Poet’s Calling. Ecco. Mar. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780062694201. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062694225. LITERARY BIOGRAPHY
A leading Neruda expert—he edited and mainly translated The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights, 2004) and is working on a documentary about the poet that has already won a Latin American Studies Association Award of Merit—Eisner spent 15 years researching this biography. The comprehensive result examines Neruda’s beloved poetry, his political commitment, and his roiling personal history to show how his art reflected his life and also stood on its own. With a 40,000-copy printing.

English, T.J. The Corporation: An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld. Morrow. Mar. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780062568960. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062568977. TRUE CRIME
Among international crime expert English’s four New York Times best sellers, Havana Nocturne examined U.S. mobsters in Cuba when the revolution broke. Here he flips to the United States, starting in the 1980s, to relate the history of the Cuban American mob here. Film rights have been sold to Paramount, with Benicio Del Toro slated to play a major role and Leonardo DiCaprio producing with Appian Way Productions. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Frank, Anne (text) & David Polonsky (illus.). Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Novel. Pantheon. Mar. 2018. 160p. ed. by Ari Folman. ISBN 9781101871799. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101871805. GN/HISTORY
This work, the only graphic novelization of Anne Frank’s diary authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation, uses text from the diary and art by award-winning Israeli children’s book illustrator Polonsky to tell the story. It’s billed as a way of introducing a new generation of young readers to this iconic story, though readers of all ages will surely respond. Israeli director Folman, who’s responsible for the Oscar-nominated Waltz with Bashir, is working on an animated feature based on Anne Frank’s work to be released in 2019. Whatever gets the story across.

Gottlieb, Robert. Near-Death Experiences: And Others. Farrar. Mar. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780374219918. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780374717919. LITERARY ESSAYS
Rightly called “the most acclaimed editor of the second half of the twentieth century” by Dwight Garner of the New York Times, Gottlieb here collects nearly two dozen pieces written mostly for the New York Review of Books. They range from a study of near-death experiences to the art of the biopic to portraits of key American figures from writers Dorothy Parker and Thomas Wolfe to actor-assassin John Wilkes Booth and a prepresidential Donald Trump. Plus, there’s a hefty share of the dance reviews he’s been writing for two decades. A big treat for literati.

Kaplan, Robert D. The Return of Marco Polo’s World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century. Random. Mar. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780812996791. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780812996807. Downloadable: Random Audio. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
Comprising 17 essays published in venues from the Atlantic to the Washington Post, this new work by foreign correspondent and best-selling author Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts; Asian Cauldron) not surprisingly addresses geopolitical concerns and American foreign policy over the past two decades. Most interesting: an essay about the tilting power dynamics among China, Eurasia, and America, written for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment and now being made public. A 2006 essay, “When North Korea Falls,” might also catch the eye.

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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