Richard Bausch, Malcolm Brooks, Jules Feiffer, Richard Flanagan, Elizabeth Green, Daniel J. Levitin| Barbara’s Picks, Aug. 2014, Pt. 1

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Bausch, Richard. Before, During, After. Knopf. Aug. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780307266262. $26.95. LITERARY FICTION Winner of everything from a PEN/Malamud Award to the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Bausch offers a 20th work of fiction that blends private and public trauma to devastating effect. Disaffected Congressional aide Natasha and faith-challenged […]

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

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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 […]

35 Going On 13: Best Teen Books for Adults, 2013; Extended List

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Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Little, Brown Bks. for Young Readers. ISBN 9780316213103. $18.99. Tana awakens in a bathtub after a night of revelry and discovers that she is the only wholly human survivor of a vampire massacre. Her ex-boyfriend has been infected and is tied to a bed in another room with […]

Keep Those First Novels Coming: The Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

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“We write about our shared past to understand our shared present,” declared Margaret Wrinkle when she was awarded the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize by the Center for Fiction on December 11 at New York’s Union League Club. Wrinkle’s award winner, Wash, darkly illuminates the treatment of slaves in America; as a white woman born in […]

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

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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 […]

Joseph Boyden, Rivka Galchen, Tom Rachman, Phyllis Rose, Colson Whitehead | Barbara’s Picks, May 2014, Pt. 5

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Boyden, Joseph. The Orenda. Knopf. May 2014. 448p. ISBN 9780385350730. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350747. LITERARY/HISTORICAL FICTION Canadian Boyden has a shelf full of awards for his first two novels, and from what I’ve seen of this arrestingly written new work, soon he’ll have more. When his guides flee the rampaging Iroquois, Jesuit missionary Christophe finds […]

Leon & Shipstead in Fiction, Caldwell & Ehrenreich in Nonfiction | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2014, Pt. 4

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Caldwell, Gail. New Life, No Instructions: A Memoir. Random. Apr. 2014. 176p. ISBN 9781400069545. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780679604426. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR Highly regarded when she served as chief book critic for the Boston Globe—she won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism—Caldwell has since made her mark with the thoughtful and beautifully wrought memoirs Let’s Take […]

History & Political Science from the Fight for Marriage Equality to the Lives of Mitterrand | Nonfiction Previews, Apr. 2014, Pt. 4

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Aly, Götz. Why the Germans? Why the Jews?: Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of the Holocaust. Metropolitan: Holt. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780805097009. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780805097047. HISTORY A noted scholar of the Holocaust who’s won the National Jewish Book Award and the Heinrich Mann Prize, among other honors, Aly argues that German anti-Semitism […]

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