Coming of Age in Apartheid-era South Africa | Debut Spotlight

South African–born, Toronto-based first novelist Bianca Marais’s Hum If You Don’t Know the Words tells the absorbing coming-of-age story of nine-year-old Robin Conrad. Living as a young white girl in Apartheid-era South Africa, Robin forms a new family after losing her own.

Cleeves, Muller, & More | Mystery Previews, Aug. 2017

Andrews, Donna. Gone Gull: A Meg Langslow Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781250078568. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466890886. MYSTERY An Agatha, Anthony, and Barry Award winner, Andrews takes us to the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center, where series heroine Meg Langslow is helping out her grandmother for the summer. Vandalism and a dead body […]

From Boylan to Karen White | Pop Fiction, Apr. 2017, Pt. 4

Boylan, Jennifer Finney. Long Black Veil. Crown. Apr. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780451496324. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780451496348. Downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER/COMING OF AGE/LGBT LGBT rights advocate, Op-Ed page contributor to the New York Times since 2007, and the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College, Boylan still finds time to write both fiction and […]

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 […]

Books for Our Times | Nonfiction Previews, Apr. 2017, Pt. 1

Douthat, Ross. To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism. S. & S. Apr. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9781501146923. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501146947. RELIGION As conservative New York Times columnist Douthat clarifies, Pope Francis’s stewardship as 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church is not without controversy. His raising issues like communion for […]

Baldacci, Child, Cornwell, Maitland, & More | Chiller Previews, Nov. 2016, Pt. 3

Baldacci, David. No Man’s Land. Grand Central. Nov. 2016. 432p. ISBN 9781455586516. $29; ebk. ISBN 9781455586493. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455586523. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER In his fourth outing (after The Escape), military investigator John Puller must revisit his mother’s disappearance 30 years ago for the worst of reasons. Someone has alleged that his father, now […]

From De Quincey to Abramovic to the Beatles | Arts Previews, Oct. 2016, Pt. 3

Abramovic, Marina. Walk Through Walls: Becoming Marina Abramovic. Crown Archetype. Oct. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9781101905043. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781101905050. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. ART/MEMOIR Preeminent performance artist Abramovic has been stripped, burned, and cut and has sat with a loaded gun to her head or simply sat for hours—all in the name of an art that […]

Twelve Essential Mysteries | Fiction Previews, Oct. 2016, Pt. 2

Alexander, Tasha. A Terrible Beauty: A Lady Emily Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9781250058270. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250106407.  MYSTERY How pleasant for Lady Emily to visit her villa on the glorious island of Santorini. And how shocking when the housekeeper tells her that the master of the house, Emily’s late husband, has […]

Spring 2016 Poetry: Top Picks

From Frank Bidart’s contained drama and Rita Dove’s blazingly heartfelt exploration of self and history, to the engaging openness of Campbell McGrath and Maureen McLane, to the shape-shifting formal verve of Tyehimba Jess and Brenda Shaughnessy, to the sheer burning wit of Kim Addonizio and Bob Hicok, poetry today is so rich and varied that, […]

Brian Panowich | Debut Spotlight, December 1, 2015

LJ caught up with Brian Panowich, author of the debut novel, Bull ­Mountain, a sweeping tale of a long-standing feud between brothers in the Appalachians of northern Georgia.