Marlon James, Marilynne Robinson, Jane Smiley, Colm Tóibín | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Oct. 2014, Pt. 1

smileyjane

James, Marlon. A Brief History of Seven Killings. Riverhead. Oct. 2014. 560p. ISBN 9781594486005. $28.95. LITERARY In his novels, Jamaican-born James centers on his homeland while giving larger scope to the African diaspora in caustically beautiful language. John Crow’s Devil, featuring two battling  preachers, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Art […]

Literary Gems (e.g., Nancy Huston, Brian Morton) and Some Major Debuts | Fiction Previews, Sept. 2014, Pt. 5

blackdance

Adcock, Siobhan. The Barter. Dutton. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780525954224. $26.95. LITERARY In present-day Texas, Bridget feels a certain emptiness after giving up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter—and a certain anxiousness because she alone senses that an alien presence has entered the house. A century before, a bride from the city […]

Ackerman, Carr, Darnton, Fukuyama, Kissinger | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Sept. 2014, Pt. 3

ackerman

Ackerman, Diane. The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us. Norton. Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780393240740. $27.95. SCIENCE Humans now dominate 75 percent of the landmass, and our technological prowess allows us to gift orangutans with iPads and collect DNA samples even as species are killed off. As distinguished naturalist and poet Ackerman notes, “Our […]

Hampton Sides on Arctic Catastrophe, Paul Ryan on His Political Vision, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Aug. 2014, Pt. 3

therush

Dolnick, Edward. The Rush: America’s Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848–1855. Little, Brown. Aug. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780316175685. $28. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. HISTORY As the Edgar Award–winning author of The Rescue Artist and a former chief science writer at the Boston Globe, Dolnick has intriguing credentials for writing this study of the Gold Rush, which tracks […]

Andrew Cuomo, the Mona Lisa, & Fashion Kings Alexander McQueen & John Galliano | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Aug. 2014, Pt. 2

thomasdana

Cuomo, Andrew. All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life. Harper. Aug. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062300089. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062300096. POD: Harper Audio. MEMOIR Cuomo isn’t just the 56th governor of New York, as well as a former New York attorney general and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He’s also the […]

From Sally Beauman & Robert Hellenga to Jude Deveraux & Danielle Steel | Fiction Previews, Jul. 2014, Pt. 2

beaumansally

Beauman, Sally. The Visitors. Harper. Jul. 2014. 544p. ISBN 9780062302687. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062302717. LITERARY/HISTORICAL This isn’t simply the story of the friendship between delicate Lucy, sent from England to recover from typhus in sun-glazed Egypt, and a girl she meets there, the daughter of an American archaeologist. It’s also the story of the hunt […]

Barbara’s Picks, Jun. 2014, Pt. 2: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Alan Furst, Sue Miller, & More

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Betts, Dwayne. The Circumference of a Prison: Youth, Race, and the Failures of the American Justice System. Avery. Jun. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781583334751. $27. LAW A distinguished poet, Yale law student, and NAACP Image award winner, Betts received a Soros Justice Fellowship to support the writing of this book, which addresses the inequities of a […]

Damien Echols, Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, Lisa See, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Jun. 2014, Pt. 1

declaration

Allen, Danielle. Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. Liveright: Norton. Jun. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780871406903. $27.95. HISTORY A political philosopher who looms large in the scholarly community (she is a professor of social science at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton and on the board of the […]

Fiction To Watch from David Guterson, Cristina Henríquez, Lisa O’Donnell, & More | Fiction Previews, Jun. 2014, Pt. 1

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Conn, Andrew Lewis. O, Africa! Hogarth: Crown. Jun. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780804138284. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780804138291. LITERARY/HISTORICAL Conn, whose devilishly over-the-top debut novel, P., got mostly strong reviews, would seem to be delivering on that sly promise. Micah and Izzy Grand, twin brothers from a Jewish immigrant family, are successfully producing slapstick comedies in 1920s […]

Best Poetry 2013, the Extended Version: We’ve Got 12 Top Titles for You

brockbroido

Officially, Library Journal lists five Best Poetry titles in its December issue, along with all the other Bests of the year. But my colleague Annalisa Pesek and I couldn’t stop there. After several rounds of reading and discussion, we found that the following 12 titles sifted out naturally as the works that grabbed our attention […]

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