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


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 […]

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


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, […]

Key Literary Fiction | Fiction Previews, Apr. 2017, Pt. 1


Bausch, Richard. Living in the Weather of the World: Stories. Knopf. Apr. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780451494825. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451494832. SHORT STORIES Recipient of a PEN/Malamud Award, among other honors, Bausch has been called a master of the short story by the New York Times Book Review, and here he gets to strut his stuff. […]

Ancient Egypt, Chinese Aspirations, & More | History Previews, Mar. 2017, Pt. 3


Ellsberg, Daniel. The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9781608196708. $30. POLITICAL SCIENCE In 1961, when Ellsberg served as a consultant to the Department of Defense and the White House, he helped draft Secretary Robert McNamara’s plans for nuclear war. Then he leaked the Pentagon Papers, and the […]

Four Rising-Star Novelists | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2017, Pt. 2


Butler, Nickolas. The Hearts of Men. Ecco. Mar. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780062469687. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062469700. LITERARY Butler, who debuted with the heartfelt Shotgun Lovesongs, which won honors ranging from the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award to France’s Prix Page/America, returns after the story collection Beneath the Bonfire with another look at male bonding. At Camp […]

Hot-Button Issues | Nonfiction Previews, Mar. 2017, Pt. 1


Alter, Adam. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9781594206641. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698402638. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. PSYCHOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA The newest addiction? It’s not to a substance but to a behavior, argues New York University professor Alter, author of the New York Times […]

Historical Echoes | Fiction Previews, Feb. 2017, Pt. 4


Hunter, Georgia. We Were the Lucky Ones. Viking. Feb. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9780399563089. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399563102. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. HISTORICAL Hunter, who did not know that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors until she was 15, draws on this revelatory history to tell the story of three generations of the Kurc family, […]

Nobel Prize Winner Coetzee & Civil War as Concept | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2017, Pt. 4


Armitage, David. Civil Wars: A History in Ideas. Knopf. Feb. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9780307271136. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353090. PHILOSOPHY/HISTORY The Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University, Armitage considers civil war not as an aggregation of battles but as an idea dating back to republican Rome. That idea really matters, for whether or […]

Sam Shepard’s Spring


Sam Shepard is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of more than 55 plays and three story collections and is an Academy Award–nominated actor who has appeared in more than 60 films, having also worked as a screenwriter and director. What’s left to do? Write a novel, of course, and he seems to have found the time. […]

Drabble, Nguyen, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2017, Pt. 1


Drabble, Margaret. The Dark Flood Rises. Farrar. Feb. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780374134952. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374715762. LITERARY FICTION A durable author of contemporary English-language literature named a Dame of the British Empire in 2008, Drabble has plenty of life experience to bring to her portrait of graying if relentlessly busy Francesca Stubbs. Even as she […]