Barbara’s Picks, Aug. 2013, Pt. 1: Short Stories from Barrett, New Fiction from Danticat, the Muslim Response to Fundamentalism, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

Barrett, Andrea. Archangel. Norton. Aug. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780393240009. $24.95. SHORT STORIES
As Barrett demonstrated with books like Voyage of the Narwhal, she writes perceptively about science. And as she proved with her National Book Award winner, Ship Fever, she’s mastered the short form. With these short stories, focusing on science, she’s set to prove herself again—twice over. In “The Ether of Space,” “The Island,” and “The Particles,” committed young scientists of both genders run up against the enormity of work by Einstein, Darwin, and Mendel, while “The Investigators” introduces 12-year-old Constantine Boyd, who delights in inventions like the first aeroplane. Later, in the title story, we meet Constantine as a soldier in 1919 Russia as he discovers the possibilities—and limitations—of X-ray technology. I love Barrett’s work!

Bennoune, Karima. Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Norton. Aug. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780393081589. $27.95. POLITICAL SCIENCE
A University of California, Davis, law professor who has been a human rights researcher and activist for two decades, Bennoune spent three years interviewing Muslims worldwide from all walks of life—journalists, doctors, street vendors, musicians, and more—to understand how they regard the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. From secularists and believers alike, she discovered strong resistance to fundamentalist oppression. But, tellingly, she also found that many Muslims feel caught between rightist prejudice against them and leftist convictions that fundamentalism is an authentic force to the good. Gathering these voices, Bennoune herself becomes a voice to heed.

Chappell, David L. Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Random. Aug. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781400065462. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780812994667. SOCIAL SCIENCE/AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, this revisionist work has a double-edged title. It examines not only the Civil Rights struggle but the struggle of many—activists, scholars, and more—to control King’s legacy and image. Leading Civil Rights authority Chappell, who wrote the highly regarded A Stone of Hope, is set to make us think.

Danticat, Edwidge. Claire of the Sea Light. Knopf. Aug. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780307271792. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385349680. LITERARY FICTION/FAMILY SAGA
Danticat’s last book, the memoir Brother, I’m Dying, was a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and a National Book Award finalist, and her fiction has won accolades, too. Fans will be pleased that this best-selling MacArthur Fellow has returned to fiction for the first time in nine years. Claire Limyè Lanmè (“Claire of the Sea Light”), whose mother died in childbirth and whose fisherman father has made the wrenching decision to give her away so that she can have a better life, goes missing just before her seventh birthday. As the entire community searches for her, secrets emerge that clarify our relationships with one another and with the natural world, even as we see the beauty and heartbreak of Haiti. With a multicity tour to New York, Boston (and New England), Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.