Backman, Garrow, Gordon, & a Trip to Timbuktu | Barbara’s Picks, May 1, 2017

beartown

Backman, Fredrik. Beartown. Atria. May. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781501160769. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501160783. CD: S. & S. Audio. LITERARY FICTION Starting with his breakout debut, A Man Called Ove, Backman became an international sensation and New York Times best-selling author. In its focus on a struggling town seeking redemption through youth sports, his latest echoes […]

Award-Winning Short Fiction, Hamlet Worldwide, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 4

arimah

Arimah, Lesley Nneka. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories. Riverhead. Apr. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780735211025. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780735211049. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. SHORT STORIES Arimah won the 2015 African Commonwealth Prize for the Granta-published “Light,” was a finalist for the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing for the title story, […]

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

lamott

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

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 […]

Elif Batuman, Mohsin Hamid, Chris Hayes, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2017, Pt. 1

batuman

Batuman, Elif. The Idiot. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9781594205613. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101622513. lrg. prnt. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY FICTION As evidenced by her National Book Critics Circle finalist, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, Batuman is a refreshingly different breed of critic, offering intriguingly personal and […]

Award-Worthy Fiction | Fiction Previews, Feb. 2017, Pt. 1

danielewski

Danielewski, Mark Z. The Familiar. Vol. 4: Hades. Pantheon. Feb. 2017. 880p. ISBN 9780375715006. pap. $26.95. LITERARY/FANTASY One Rainy Day in May, the first volume of National Book Award finalist Danielewski’s magnum opus, The Familiar, was published in 2015 and quickly hit the New York Times best sellers list, rising to No. 5. The entire […]

Essential Literary Fiction | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2017, Pt. 3

appelfeld

Appelfeld, Aharon. The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping. Schocken. Jan. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780805243192. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780805243208. LITERARY In this new work from celebrated Israeli author Appelfeld (winner of two National Jewish Book Awards), a young Holocaust survivor barely recalls his journey from Europe to Palestine, where he now works on a kibbutz. But […]

Rising Stars | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2017, Pt. 1

bitto

Barkan, Josh. Mexico: Stories. Hogarth: Crown. Jan. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781101906293. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781101906309. SHORT STORIES What do you do when a drug lord walks into your restaurant? Or when a parent walks into your classroom and threatens to kill you if his son falls for the wrong girl? These are some of the […]

Queen Victoria, Pixar, Space Travel, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Nov. 2016, Pt. 4

baird

Alvarez, Walter. A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves. Norton. Nov. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780393292695. $26.95. SCIENCE/COSMOLOGY If you’re familiar with the “Impact Theory,” which blames dinosaur extinction on a crash-landed asteroid, then you’re familiar with Berkeley geologist Alvarez; he originated the idea. Here he argues that Big History, which […]

Five Big Debuts | Fiction Previews, Oct. 1, 2016, Pt. 1

changjade

  Bennett, Brit. The Mothers. Riverhead. Oct. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780399184512. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780399184536. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. LITERARY/WOMEN’S FICTION In a contemporary black community in Southern California, 17-year-old Nadia Turner and 21-year-old Luke Sheppard launch a soulful affair. She’s lost her mother to suicide, he’s lost a football career to injury, and the decisions […]