Key Poetry Jan.–Apr. 2017

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Bidart, Frank. Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2017. Farrar. Apr. 2017. 624p. ISBN 9780374125950. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780374715182. POETRY Multi-award-winning Bidart (e.g., the Bollingen Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award) represents a high point in contemporary America poetry, with dramatic, focused writing exploring our darkest psychic corners and greatest needs. Including a new collection, Thirst; originally […]

Two Big Fiction Debuts, Gaitskill, Lamott, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 3

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El Akkad, Omar. American War. Knopf. Apr. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780451493583. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451493590. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. LITERARY/DYSTOPIAN FICTION Having reported on key issues from the war in Afghanistan to the Black Lives Matter movement, Egyptian-born, Canadian-based journalist El Akkad not surprisingly offers a debut novel shaped by current events while pointing […]

15 Key Thrillers | Fiction Previews, Apr. 2017, Pt. 3

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Armstrong, Ross. The Watcher. Mira: Harlequin. Apr. 2017. 302p. ISBN 9780778330721. $26.99. THRILLER Noted actor Armstrong (he’s appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in Hamlet on Broadway) launches his writing career with psychological suspense that Harlequin UK is dubbing a lead breakout title. When an elderly neighbor turns up dead shortly after birdwatcher Lily […]

Cooks, Rebel Mothers, & Media Stars | Memoir Previews, Apr. 2017, Pt. 3

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Andreas, Peter. Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution. S. & S. Apr. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781501124396. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501124457. MEMOIR In the Sixties, conventional housewife Carol Andreas morphed into a radical feminist and Marxist revolutionary, running through numerous husbands and lovers as she sought for and fought for important causes. She took her […]

Finalists Announced for National Book Awards 2016

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The 20 finalists for the 2016 National Book Awards for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature were recently announced by David Haglund, the literary editor of newyorker.com, and Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation. The announcement was made by The New Yorker via Facebook Live on October 6. The fiction […]

Spotlight on Paulette Jiles | LibraryReads Author, October 15, 2016

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In Paulette Jiles’s luminous new novel, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels the rough roads of northern Texas after the Civil War reading newspapers to paying crowds. As Jiles explained in a phone interview with LJ, “He wanted to move people into the wonderful world of imagination we all need, which he brings to people under the guise of news.”

Top Fall Poetry: Great Reading Beyond the Basics from Veterans and Newcomers Alike

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Delivered without showiness, Bennett’s imagery is arresting; Hollo is fun for all; in breathtaking language, Ritvo chronicles what it’s like to be living; intellectually astute and lit-up, sharply observed verse; Shapiro finally has his moment of triumph and honor

War, Islam, & Evangelicals | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 2

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Bellaigue, Christopher de. The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times. Liveright: Norton. Apr. 2017. 560p. ISBN 9780871403735. $35. HISTORY Many Westerners see Islam as behind the times, having failed to experience Europe’s Enlightenment. But Bellaigue, an authority on Islam and the Middle East who speaks Turkish, Persian, and Arabic […]

Nadeem Aslam, Elizabeth Kostova, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 2

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Aslam, Nadeem. The Golden Legend. Knopf. Apr. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780451493781. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451493798.LITERARY Winner of the Kiriyama and Windham-Campbell Literature prizes, Aslam has also been short-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and twice long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, honors that don’t begin to sum up the power of his nuanced, […]

Cleeves, Hillerman, & More | Mystery Previews, Apr. 2017, Pt. 2

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Albert, Susan Wittig. The Last Chance Olive Ranch: A China Bayles Mystery. Berkley. Apr. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780425280034. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698190283. MYSTERY In the 25th mystery starring China Bayles, a high-profile Houston attorney who threw it all away to become an herbalist, China grudgingly agrees when her onetime policeman husband insists that she keep […]