Critics & Authors | Barbara’s Picks, Jul. 2018

Jeppesen, Travis. See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey into Kim Jong Un’s North Korea. Hachette. Jul. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780316509152. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316509138. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316509169. Downloadable. TRAVEL/CURRENT EVENTS
A perennially edgy novelist/poet (e.g., The Suiciders) and an artist whose work has popped up at the Whitney Biennial, Jeppesen has visited North Korea five times and in 2016 became the first American to study at a North Korean university. Here, he blends history, travelog, and memoir to present an uncomfortably timely portrait of the country and its people that upends some of our assumptions. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Kakutani, Michiko. The Death of Truth. Tim Duggan: Crown. Jul. 2018. 176p. ISBN 9780525574828. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780525574842. Downloadable. POLITICAL SCIENCE/CIVICS
When she recently left her position as chief book critic of the New York Times after nearly four decades, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Kakutani professed an interest in focusing on culture and politics. Here she follows through, investigating fake news, relativism, and the assumption that all opinions are equally valid to show that the very concept of truth has been demeaned. With detours to pop culture (e.g., Fox News, Oliver Stone movies), academia (the deconstructionist rage), and doubtful proclamations from politicians ranging from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump.

Louis, Édouard. History of Violence. Farrar. Jul. 2018. 224p. tr. from French by Lorin Stein. ISBN 9780374170592. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780374716400. CD. LITERARY FICTION
In his eye-opening autobiographical debut novel, The End of Eddy, which was an international best seller, Louis limned a gay man’s coming of age in working-class northern France. Here he deepens our understanding of homophobia, classism, and violence past and present, in his life and ours, as he draws on a terrible personal event—being raped and nearly killed by a man he had just met, which made him emotionally unrecognizable to himself and forced him back to the hometown he fled.

Moran, Caitlin. How To Be Famous. Harper. Jul. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780062433770. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062433794. WOMEN’S/LITERARY FICTION
Moran followed her award-winning, New York Times best-selling feminist memoir, How To Be a Woman, with the widely and hand-clappingly reviewed debut novel, How To Build a Girl. In this sequel, 18-year-old Johanna Morrigan (aka Dolly Wilde) lives in London and writes for an of-the-moment music magazine. She’s jealous of friend John’s big BritPop music success—until she has the idea of writing a column about the ups and downs of becoming and being famous. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

Muhammad, Ibtihaj with Lori Tharps. Proud: An American Story of Faith, Family and Olympic Glory. Hachette. Jul. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780316518963. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316518956. Downloadable. MEMOIR/SPORTS
The first Muslim American woman to compete for America in the Olympics wearing a hijab, claiming a team bronze, Muhammad chose fencing as consonant with her family’s religious beliefs: she could compete fully clothed. Here’s how she stuck to her faith and her sabre despite financial difficulties and the bigotry that came with a sport long associated with the white upper crust (someone even told her, “Take that table cloth off your head”). Note that there is a young readers’ edition: ISBN 9780316477000. $17.

Prose, Francine. What To Read and Why. Harper. Jul. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780062397867. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062397881. LITERATURE
Eminent and fluidly prolific novelist Prose (e.g., Mister Monkey) is also an acute literary critic, as this follow-up to her New York Times best-selling Reading Like a Writer should attest. Here she assesses authors from Jane Austen to Roberto Bolaño while arguing that the solitary act of reading brings joyous relief in a noisy, overconnected world.

Roy, Lori. The Disappearing. Dutton. Jul. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781524741938. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781524741952. Downloadable. THRILLER
Two-time Edgar Award winner Roy takes us to northern Florida with Lane Fielding, who’s abandoned a cheating husband and fled home to her parents with her two daughters. When her older daughter vanishes, Lane fears the worst; hints from her younger daughter make Lane suspect vengeance for something awful her father did as director of a local boys’ reform school.

Sager, Riley. The Last Time I Lied. Dutton. Jul. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9781524743079. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524743086. lrg. prnt. Downloadable. THRILLER
Having made a strong showing with last year’s Final Girls, the pseudonymous Sager returns with another on-the-edge thriller featuring young women in trouble. When up-and-coming artist Emma is invited to be a painting counselor at Camp Nightingale, she’s wary but hopeful; three of her cabin mates vanished there, and she welcomes the chance to come to terms. But the atmosphere is pretty unsettling; why, for instance, is the security camera pointed at her cabin?

Treuer, David. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Indian America from 1890 to the Present. Riverhead. Jul. 2018. 496p. ISBN 9781594633157. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698160811. Downloadable. HISTORY/NATIVE AMERICAN
The author of astute, heartfelt fiction, including the multi-best-booked The Translation of Dr Apelles, Ojibwe author Treuer uses his anthropological training to offer a new view of the Native experience. Treuer argues that the adversity Natives have faced since the late 1800s (with Native history not suddenly ending at Wounded Knee) has in fact led to a rebirth of culture and identity, firming up resistance and connecting different peoples across the continent.

Wascom, Kent. The New Inheritors. Grove. Jul. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9780802128171. $26. LITERARY/HISTORICAL FICTION
Having captured the history of the Gulf Coast in two bloody, blazingly and baroquely brilliant sagas, award-winning author Wascom returns with an update set in 1914. Mysterious painter Isaac and rebellious heiress Kemper fall in love and find refuge in the coastal wilds, but brawly summer storms and violence both worldwide and down home (rivalries within Kemper’s brutal family boil over) wreck their happiness.

Wolas, Cherise. The Family Tabor. Flatiron: Macmillan. Jul. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9781250081452. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250081469. CD. LITERARY
In this follow-up to The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, Wolas’s absorbing, multi-starred debut, Harry Tabor’s family gathers in Palm Springs to celebrate his being proclaimed Man of the Decade. But son Simon seems troubled, attorney daughter Phoebe is tight-lipped about her boyfriend, and another daughter, Camille, remains uncertain about her path in life. Then there’s Harry, hiding a dark secret. Read Ashby if you haven’t, then grab this.

Weir, Meghan MacLean. The Book of Essie. Knopf. Jun. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780525520313. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525520320. Downloadable. WOMEN’S/LITERARY FICTION
The youngest daughter of an evangelical preacher, Essie reigns as star of her family’s audience-favorite reality TV show. But now she’s pregnant, which could sink the ratings—or send them into the stratosphere. Weir herself was raised in the rectory of her father’s Massachusetts church. Folks at Knopf are tap dancing about this one; with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Young, Ashleigh. Can You Tolerate This? Riverhead. Jul. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780525534037. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525534051. Downloadable. ESSAYS/LITERATURE
There’s real in-house excitement about this new essay collection from New Zealand essayist/poet Young, and no wonder; Young was among the nonfiction winners of the 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize, which aims to highlight literary excellence and has served wondrously to bring our attention to writers who ought to be better known. Young’s essays use personal detail to wrestle with the larger coming-of-age issues of ambition and disappointment, so everyone should relate.

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.


  1. Just Love says:

    Some collectible books to read and you must have in the library! Thanks for sharing this !

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