Author: Book Store

We’ve been hearing worried rumours about the difficulties that lay ahead this season for publishers and printers. So, in an attempt to get ahead of books going out of stock, and supply chain issues, we’ve put together a list of some of the books we thought you might want to know about, and which could prove difficult to get in the coming month.

 

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

 

 

Here is the extraordinary, thrilling new novel from Sally Rooney, author of the internationally bestselling Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Due Sept. 7


Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

 

 

From two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

Due Sept. 14


Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

 

 

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time, comes the highly anticipated Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Due Sept. 28


Out of the Sun (New Massey Lecture) by Esi Edugyan

 

 

An insightful exploration and moving meditation on identity, art, and belonging from one of the most celebrated writers of the last decade.

Due Sept. 28


The Strangers by Katherena Vermette

 

 

From the bestselling author of The Break comes a staggering intergenerational saga that explores how connected we are, even when we’re no longer together—even when we’re forced apart.

Due Sept. 28


The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

 

 

The second gripping novel in the New York Times bestselling Thursday Murder Club series, the first of which Kate Atkinson called “A little beacon of pleasure in the midst of the gloom. . .”

Due Sept. 28


The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

 

 

The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America.

Due Oct. 5


April in Spain by John Banville

 

 

Booker Prize winner John Banville returns with a dark and evocative new mystery set on the Spanish coast.

Due Oct. 5


State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton

 

 

From the #1 bestselling authors Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny comes a novel of unsurpassed thrills and incomparable insider expertise—State of Terror.

Due Oct. 12


Silverview by John Le Carre

 

 

In Silverview, John le Carré turns his focus to the world that occupied his writing for the past sixty years—the secret world itself.

Due Oct. 12


Poets, princes, and personalities find themselves in this week’s recommendations of books which see us travel from Cyprus to Tuscany, from Belarus to Cornwall, and then all the way back to Toronto.

 

Ben Recommends

Latitude by Nicholas Crane

 

 

They needed to know because accurate maps saved lives at sea and made money on land. But measuring the earth was so difficult that most thought it impossible.

The world’s first international team of scientists was sent to a continent of unmapped rainforests and ice-shrouded volcanoes where they attempted to measure the length on the ground of one degree of latitude.

Beset by egos and disease, storms and earthquakes, mutiny and murder, they struggled for ten years to reach the single figure they sought.

 

A Prince and a Spy by Rory Clements

 

 

Two old friends meeting in a remote castle in Sweden. They are cousins.

One is Prince George, brother of the king of England, and the other Prince Philipp von Hesse, a close friend of Adolf Hitler and a committed Nazi. Days later Prince George is killed in a plane crash and the country weeps, but not everyone believes that it was an accident.

When FDR, who happens to be a good friend of the prince, hears the tragic news, he wants to find out exactly what happened. The American OSS doesn’t believe the story that MI5 are pedalling. The situation is delicate. Professor Tom Wilde, Cambridge don, is called in to uncover the truth—but what he discovers is far more than he bargained for.

 


 

Rupert Recommends

Poet Warrior by Joy Harjo

 

 

Joy Harjo, the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate, invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road.

Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, and the messengers of a changing earth—owls heralding grief, resilient desert plants, and a smooth green snake curled up in surprise. She celebrates the influences that shaped her poetry, among them Audre Lorde, N. Scott Momaday, Walt Whitman, Muscogee stomp dance call-and-response, Navajo horse songs, rain, and sunrise. In absorbing, incantatory prose, Harjo grieves at the loss of her mother, reckons with the theft of her ancestral homeland, and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member.

 

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop

 

 

Alfa Ndiaye is a Senegalese man who, never before having left his village, finds himself fighting as a so-called “Chocolat” soldier with the French army during World War I. When his friend Mademba Diop, in the same regiment, is seriously injured in battle, Diop begs Alfa to kill him and spare him the pain of a long and agonizing death in No Man’s Land.

Unable to commit this mercy killing, madness creeps into Alfa’s mind as he comes to see this refusal as a cruel moment of cowardice. Anxious to avenge the death of his friend and find forgiveness for himself, he begins a macabre ritual: every night he sneaks across enemy lines to find and murder a blue-eyed German soldier, and every night he returns to base, unharmed, with the German’s severed hand. At first his comrades look at Alfa’s deeds with admiration, but soon rumors begin to circulate that this super soldier isn’t a hero, but a sorcerer, a soul-eater. Plans are hatched to get Alfa away from the front, and to separate him from his growing collection of hands, but how does one reason with a demon, and how far will Alfa go to make amends to his dead friend?

 


 

Danielle Recommends

On Freedom by Maggie Nelson

 

 

So often deployed as a jingoistic, even menacing rallying cry, or limited by a focus on passing moments of liberation, the rhetoric of freedom both rouses and repels. Does it remain key to our autonomy, justice, and well-being, or is freedom’s long star turn coming to a close? Does a continued obsession with the term enliven and emancipate, or reflect a deepening nihilism (or both)? On Freedom examines such questions by tracing the concept’s complexities in four distinct realms: art, sex, drugs, and climate.

Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. Her abiding interest lies in ongoing “practices of freedom” by which we negotiate our interrelation with–indeed, our inseparability from–others, with all the care and constraint that relation entails, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion.

 

The Singing Forest by Judith McCormack

 

 

In a quiet forest in Belarus, two boys make a gruesome find that reveals a long-kept secret: the mass grave where Stalin’s police buried thousands of murder victims in the 1930s. The results of the subsequent investigation—30,000 dead—has far-reaching effects, and across the Atlantic in Toronto, young lawyer Leah Jarvis finds herself tasked with an impossible case: the trial of elderly Stefan Drozd, a former member of Stalin’s forces, who fled his crimes in Kurapaty for a new identity in Canada.

Though Leah is convinced of Drozd’s guilt, she needs hard facts. Determined to bring him to justice, she travels to Belarus in search of witnesses—and finds herself piecing together another set of evidence: her mother’s death, her father’s absence, the shadows of her Jewish heritage. Lyrical and wrenching by turns, The Singing Forest is a profound investigation of memory, truth, and the stories that tell us who we are.

 


 

Olivia Recommends

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

 

 

Yiannis is a poacher, trapping the tiny protected songbirds that stop in Cyprus as they migrate each year from Africa to Europe and selling them on the illegal market. He dreams of finding a new way of life, and of marrying Nisha.

But one night, Nisha makes dinner, an aromatic dahl curry, for the family who pays her: Petra and her daughter Aliki. Then, after she cleans the kitchen and tucks Aliki into bed, Nisha goes out on a mysterious errand, and vanishes.

When the police refuse to pursue the case, Petra takes on the investigation herself, a path that leads her to Nisha’s friends—other workers in the neighborhood—and to the darker side of a migrant’s life, where impossible choices leave them vulnerable, captive, and worse.

 

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford

 

 

Lunchtime on a Saturday, 1944: the Woolworths on Bexford High Street in South London receives a delivery of aluminum saucepans. A crowd gathers to see the first new metal in ages—after all, everything’s been melted down for the war effort. An instant later, the crowd is gone; incinerated. Among the shoppers were five young children.

Who were they? What futures did they lose? This brilliantly constructed novel, inspired by real events, lets an alternative reel of time run, imagining the lives of these five souls as they live through the extraordinary, unimaginable changes of the bustling immensity of twentieth-century London. Their intimate everyday dramas, as sons and daughters, spouses, parents, grandparents; as the separated, the remarried, the bereaved. Through decades of social, sexual, and technological transformation, as bus conductors and landlords, as swindlers and teachers, patients and inmates. Days of personal triumphs and disasters; of second chances and redemption.

 


 

Patti Recommends

The Feast by Margaret Kennedy

 

 

Celebrated by Cathy Rentzenbrink, this glorious rediscovered classic exploring the mystery of a buried Cornish hotel is perfect for Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier fans.

Cornwall, Midsummer 1947. Pendizack Manor Hotel is buried in the rubble of a collapsed cliff. Seven guests have perished, but what brought this strange assembly together for a moonlit feast before this Act of God – or Man? Over the week before the landslide, we meet the hotel guests in all their eccentric glory: and as friendships form and romances blossom, sins are revealed, and the cracks widen.

 

The Echo Chamber by John Boyne

 

 

The Cleverley family live a gilded life, little realising how precarious their privilege is, just one tweet away from disaster. George, the patriarch, is a stalwart of television interviewing, a ‘national treasure’ (his words), his wife Beverley, a celebrated novelist (although not as celebrated as she would like), and their children, Nelson, Elizabeth, Achilles, various degrees of catastrophe waiting to happen.

Together they will go on a journey of discovery through the Hogarthian jungle of the modern living where past presumptions count for nothing and carefully curated reputations can be destroyed in an instant. Along the way they will learn how volatile, how outraged, how unforgiving the world can be when you step from the proscribed path.

 

Due Sept. 21

 


 

A book about aristocracy, a book about authors, and the book of form and emptiness in the newest instalment of what we’re keen to read.

 

Ben Anticipates

The Mountbattens by Andrew Lownie

 

 

Dickie Mountbatten: A major figure behind his nephew Philip’s marriage to Queen Elizabeth II and instrumental in the royal family taking the Mountbatten name, he was Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia during World War II and the last Viceroy of India.

Edwina Mountbatten: Once the richest woman in Britain—and a playgirl who enjoyed numerous affairs—she emerged from World War II as a magnetic and talented humanitarian worker who was loved throughout the­ world.

From British high society to the South of France, from the battlefields of Burma to the Viceroy’s House, The Mountbattens is a rich and filmic story of a powerful partnership, revealing the truth behind a carefully curated legend.

 

Due Sept. 7

 

The Magician by Colm Tóibín

 

 

When the Great War breaks out in 1914 Thomas Mann, like so many of his fellow countrymen, is fired up with patriotism. He imagines the Germany of great literature and music, that had drawn him away from the stifling, conservative town of his childhood, might be a source of pride once again. But his flawed vision will form the beginning of a dark and complex relationship with his homeland, and see the start of great conflict within his own brilliant and troubled family.

Colm Tóibín’s epic novel is the story of a man of intense contradictions. Although Thomas Mann becomes famous and admired, his inner life is hesitant, fearful and secretive. His blindness to impending disaster in the Great War will force him to rethink his relationship to Germany as Hitler comes to power. He has six children with his clever and fascinating wife, Katia, while his own secret desires appear threaded through his writing. He and Katia deal with exile bravely, doing everything possible to keep the family safe, yet they also suffer the terrible ravages of suicide among Thomas’s siblings and their own children.

 

Due Sept. 28

 


 

Rupert Anticipates

Bright Star, Green Light by Jonathan Bate

 

 

In this radiant dual biography, Jonathan Bate explores the fascinating parallel lives of John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald, writers who worked separately—on different continents, a century apart, in distinct genres—but whose lives uncannily echoed.

Not only was Fitzgerald profoundly influenced by Keats, titling Tender is the Night and other works from the poet’s lines, but the two shared similar fates: both died young, loved to drink, were plagued by tuberculosis, were haunted by their first love, and wrote into a new decade of release, experimentation, and decadence. Both were outsiders and Romantics, longing for the past as they sped blazingly into the future.

Using Plutarch’s ancient model of “parallel lives,” Jonathan Bate recasts the inspired lives of two of the greatest and best-known Romantic writers.

 

Due Sept. 7

 

The Sea is Not Made of Water by Adam Nicolson

 

 

In The Sea is Not Made of Water, Adam Nicolson explores the natural wonders of the intertidal and our long human relationship with it. The physics of the seas, the biology of anemone and limpet, the long history of the earth, and the stories we tell of those who have lived here: all interconnect in this zone where the philosopher, scientist and poet can meet and find meaning.

In this blend of fascinating, surprising ecology and luminous human history, Adam Nicolson gives an invitation to the shoreline. Anyone who chooses can look beyond their own reflection and find the marvellous there, waiting an inch beneath their nose.

 

Due Sept. 7

 


 

Danielle Anticipates

No. 91/92 by Lauren Elkin

 

 

In fall 2014 Lauren Elkin began keeping a diary of her bus commutes in the Notes app on her iPhone 5c, writing down the interesting things and people she saw in a Perecquian homage to Bus Lines 91 and 92, which she took from her apartment in the 5th Arrondissement to her teaching job in the 7th. Reading the notice, she decided to be vigilant when using her phone: she would carry out a public transport vigil, using it to take in the world around her and notice all the things she would miss if she continued using it the way she had been, the way everyone does—to surf the web, check social media, maintain her daily sense of self through digital interaction. Her goal became to observe the world through the screen of her phone, rather than using her phone to distract from the world.

During the course of that academic year, the Charlie Hebdo attacks occurred and Elkin had an ectopic pregnancy, requiring emergency surgery. At that point, her diary of dailiness became a study of the counterpoint between the everyday and the Event, mediated through early twenty-first century technology, and observed from the height of a bus seat.

 

Due Sept. 14

 

Assembly by Natasha Brown

 

 

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Go to college, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy an apartment. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?

Assembly is a story about the stories we live within – those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers.And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life. With a steely, unfaltering gaze, Natasha Brown dismantles the mythology of whiteness, lining up the debris in a neat row and walking away.

 

Due Sept. 14

 


 

Olivia Anticipates

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

 

 

To his customers and neighbours on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time.

See, cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn’t see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn’t ask questions. Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plans to rob the Hotel Theresa–the “Waldorf of Harlem”–and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord and numerous other Harlem lowlifes. Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

 

Due Sept. 14

 

Snowflake by Louise Nealon

 

 

Eighteen-year-old Debbie was raised on her family’s rural dairy farm, forty minutes and a world away from Dublin. She lives with her mother, Maeve, a skittish woman who takes to her bed for days on end, claims not to know who Debbie’s father is, and believes her dreams are prophecies. Rounding out their small family is Maeve’s brother Billy, who lives in a caravan behind their house, drinks too much, and likes to impersonate famous dead writers online. Though they may have their quirks, the Whites’ fierce love for one another is never in doubt.

But Debbie’s life is changing. Earning a place at Trinity College Dublin, she commutes to her classes a few days a week. Yet just as she begins to ponder the possibilities the future holds, a resurgence of strange dreams raises her fears that she may share Maeve’s fate. Then a tragic accident upends the family’s equilibrium, and Debbie discovers her next steps may no longer be hers to choose.

 

Due Sept. 14

 


 

Patti Anticipates

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

 

 

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.

Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

 

Due Sept. 7

 

The Book of Form and Emptiness  by Ruth Ozeki

 

 

One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house—a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous.

At first, Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world. He falls in love with a mesmerizing street artist with a smug pet ferret, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many.   And he meets his very own Book—a talking thing—who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

 

Due Sept. 21

 


 

Fiction is predominant as we were spending most of the last couple weeks in the sun. We’re hoping this trend continues!

 

Ben Recommends

Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka

 

 

Nanao, nicknamed Lady Bird—the self-proclaimed “unluckiest assassin in the world”—boards a bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka with one simple task: grab a suitcase and get off at the next stop. Unbeknownst to him, the deadly duo Tangerine and Lemon are also after the very same suitcase—and they are not the only dangerous passengers onboard. Satoshi, “the Prince,” with the looks of an innocent schoolboy and the mind of a viciously cunning psychopath, is also in the mix and has history with some of the others. Risk fuels him as does a good philosophical debate . . . like, is killing really wrong? Chasing the Prince is another assassin with a score to settle for the time the Prince casually pushed a young boy off of a roof, leaving him comatose.

When the five assassins discover they are all on the same train, they realize their missions are not as unrelated as they first appear.

 

Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson

 

 

Barcelona Dreaming is narrated, in turn, by an English woman who runs a gift shop, an alcoholic jazz pianist, and a translator tormented by unrequited love, all of whose lives will be changed forever. Underpinning the novel, and casting a long shadow, is a crime committed against a young Moroccan immigrant.

Exploring themes of addiction, racism, celebrity, immigration, and self-delusion, and fueled by a longing for the unattainable and a nostalgia for what is about to be lost, Barcelona Dreaming is a love letter to one of the world’s most beautiful cities and a powerful and poignant fable for our uncertain times.

 


 

Rupert Recommends

Blood Royal by Robert Bartlett

 

 

Throughout medieval Europe, for hundreds of years, monarchy was the way that politics worked in most countries. This meant power was in the hands of a family – a dynasty; that politics was family politics; and political life was shaped by the births, marriages and deaths of the ruling family. How did the dynastic system cope with female rule, or pretenders to the throne? How did dynasties use names, the numbering of rulers and the visual display of heraldry to express their identity? And why did some royal families survive and thrive, while others did not? Drawing on a rich and memorable body of sources, this engaging and original history of dynastic power in Latin Christendom and Byzantium explores the role played by family dynamics and family consciousness in the politics of the royal and imperial dynasties of Europe. From royal marriages and the birth of sons, to female sovereigns, mistresses and wicked uncles, Robert Bartlett makes enthralling sense of the complex web of internal rivalries and loyalties of the ruling dynasties and casts fresh light on an essential feature of the medieval world.

 

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore

 

 

England, 1643. Puritanical fervor has gripped the nation. And in Manningtree, a town depleted of men since the wars began, the hot terror of damnation burns in the hearts of women left to their own devices.

Rebecca West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only occasionally by her infatuation with the handsome young clerk John Edes. But then a newcomer, who identifies himself as the Witchfinder General, arrives. A mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, Matthew Hopkins takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about what the women on the margins of this diminished community are up to. Dangerous rumors of covens, pacts, and bodily wants have begun to hang over women like Rebecca—and the future is as frightening as it is thrilling.

 


 

Danielle Recommends

To Write as if Already Dead by Kate Zambreno

 

 

To Write As If Already Dead circles around Kate Zambreno’s failed attempts to write a study of Hervé Guibert’s To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life. In this diaristic, transgressive work, the first in a cycle written in the years preceding his death, Guibert documents with speed and intensity his diagnosis and disintegration from AIDS and elegizes a character based on Michel Foucault.

Throughout this rigorous, mischievous, thrilling not-quite study, Guibert lingers as a ghost companion. Zambreno, who has been pushing the boundaries of literary form for a decade, investigates his methods by adopting them, offering a keen sense of the energy and confessional force of Guibert’s work, an ode to his slippery, scarcely classifiable genre.

 

Permafrost by Eva Baltasar

 

 

Permafrost’s no-bullshit lesbian narrator is an uninhibited lover and a wickedly funny observer of modern life. Desperate to get out of Barcelona, she goes to Brussels, ‘because a city whose symbol is a little boy pissing was a city I knew I would like’; as an au pair in Scotland, she develops a hatred of the colour green. And everywhere she goes, she tries to break out of the roles set for her by family and society, chasing escape wherever it can be found: love affairs, travel, thoughts of suicide.

Full of powerful, physical imagery, this prize-winning debut novel by acclaimed Catalan poet Eva Baltasar was a word-of-mouth hit in its own language.

 


 

Olivia Recommends

Becoming Leidah by Michelle Grierson

 

 

In the hinterlands of old Norway, Leidah Pietersdatter is born blue-skinned, with webbed hands and feet. Upon every turn of season, her mother, Maeva, worries as her daughter’s peculiarities blossom—inside the root of the tiny child, a strange power is taking hold.

Maeva tries to hide the girl from the suspicious townsfolk of the austere village of Ørken, just as she conceals her own magical ancestry from her daughter. And Maeva’s adoring husband, Pieter, wants nothing more than for his new family to be accepted by all. But unlike Pieter, who is blinded by love, Maeva is aware that the villagers, who profess a rigid faith to the new God and claim to have abandoned the old ways, are watching for any sign of transgression—and are eager to pounce and punish.

 

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

 

 

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

 


 

Patti Recommends

Virtue by Hermione Hoby

 

 

Arriving in New York City for an internship at an elite but fading magazine, Luca feels invisible: smart but not worldly, privileged but broke, and uncertain how to navigate a new era of social change. Among his peers is Zara, a young Black woman whose sharp wit and frank views on injustice create tension in the office. Luca is equally drawn to an attractive and wealthy white couple—a prominent artist and her filmmaker husband—whose lifestyle he finds alien and alluring. As summer arrives, Luca is swept up in the fever dream of their marriage, joining them at their beach house, and nurturing an infatuation both frustrating and dangerous. Only after he learns of a spectacular tragedy in the city he has left behind does he begin to realize the moral consequences of his allegiances.

 

How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina

 

 

Brilliant yet poor, Ramesh Kumar grew up working at his father’s tea stall in the Old City of Delhi. Now, he makes a lucrative living taking tests for the sons of India’s elite—a situation that becomes complicated when one of his clients, the sweet but hapless eighteen-year-old Rudi Saxena, places first in the All Indias, the national university entrance exams, thanks to him.

Ramesh sees an opportunity—perhaps even an obligation—to cash in on Rudi’s newfound celebrity, not knowing that Rudi’s role on a game show will lead to unexpected love, followed by wild trouble when both young men are kidnapped.

 


 

A little madness here, a little murder there, and good books everywhere in this month’s anticipated reads.

Ben Anticipates

 

The Ambassador by Susan Ronald

 

 

On February 18, 1938, Joseph P. Kennedy was sworn in as US Ambassador to the Court of St. James. To say his appointment to the most prestigious and strategic diplomatic post in the world shocked the Establishment was an understatement: known for his profound Irish roots and staunch Catholicism, not to mention his plain-spoken” opinions and womanizing, he was a curious choice as Europe hurtled toward war.

Initially welcomed by the British, in less than two short years Kennedy was loathed by the White House, the State Department and the British Government. Believing firmly that Fascism was the inevitable wave of the future, he consistently misrepresented official US foreign policy internationally as well as direct instructions from FDR himself. The Americans were the first to disown him and the British and the Nazis used Kennedy to their own ends.

Due August 3

 

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

 

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Quebec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds.

Due August 24

 


 

Rupert Anticipates

 

The Irish Assassins by Julie Kavanagh

 

 

One sunlit evening, May 6 l882, Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Burke, Chief Secretary and Undersecretary for Ireland, were ambushed and stabbed to death while strolling through Phoenix Park in Dublin. The murders were funded by American supporters of Irish independence and carried out by the Invincibles, a militant faction of republicans armed with specially-made surgeon’s blades. They ended what should have been a turning point in Anglo Irish relations. A new spirit of goodwill had been burgeoning between British Prime Minister William Gladstone and Ireland’s leader Charles Stewart Parnell, with both men forging in secret a pact to achieve peace and independence in Ireland—with the newly appointed Cavendish, Gladstone’s protégé, to play an instrumental role in helping to do so.  The impact of the Phoenix Park murders was so cataclysmic that it destroyed the pact, almost brought down the government, and set in motion repercussions that would last long into the 20th century.

Due August 13

 

The Republic of False Truths by Alaa Al Aswany

 

 

Cairo, 2011. After decades under a repressive regime, tensions are rising in the city streets. No one is out of reach of the revolution. There is General Alwany, a high-ranking member of the government’s security agency, a pious man who loves his family yet won’t hesitate to torture enemies of the state; Asma, a young teacher who chafes against the brazen corruption at her school; Ashraf, an out-of-work actor who is having an affair with his maid and who gets pulled into Tahrir Square through a chance encounter; Nourhan, a television personality who loyally defends those in power; and many more.

As these lives collide, a new generation finds a voice, love blossoms across class divides, and the revolution gains strength. Even the general finds himself at a crossroads as his own daughter joins the protests. Yet the old regime will not give up without a fight.

Due August 10

 


 

Danielle Anticipates

 

Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar

 

 

With formal virtuosity and ruthless precision, Kaveh Akbar’s second collection takes its readers on a spiritual journey of disavowal, fiercely attendant to the presence of divinity where artifacts of self and belonging have been shed. How does one recover from addiction without destroying the self-as-addict? And if living justly in a nation that would see them erased is, too, a kind of self-destruction, what does one do with the body’s question, “what now shall I repair?” Here, Akbar responds with prayer as an act of devotion to dissonance—the infinite void of a loved one’s absence, the indulgence of austerity, making a life as a Muslim in an Islamophobic nation—teasing the sacred out of silence and stillness.

Richly crafted and generous, Pilgrim Bell’s linguistic rigor is tuned to the register of this moment and any moment. As the swinging soul crashes into its limits, against the atrocities of the American empire, and through a profoundly human capacity for cruelty and grace, these brilliant poems dare to exist in the empty space where song lives—resonant, revelatory, and holy.

Due August 3

 

Fight Nights by Miriam Toews

 

 

Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly, frail, yet extraordinarily lively mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma takes on the role of teacher and gives her the task of writing to Swiv’s absent father about life in the household during the last trimester of the pregnancy. In turn, Swiv gives Grandma an assignment: to write a letter to “Gord,” her unborn grandchild (and Swiv’s soon-to-be brother or sister). “You’re a small thing,” Grandma writes to Gord, “and you must learn to fight.”

As Swiv records her thoughts and observations, Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family.

Due August 24

 


 

Olivia Anticipates

 

Life in the  City of Dirty Water by Clayton Thomas-Muller

 

 

There have been many Clayton Thomas-Mullers: The child who played with toy planes as an escape from domestic and sexual abuse, enduring the intergenerational trauma of Canada’s residential school system; the angry youngster who defended himself with fists and sharp wit against racism and violence, at school and on the streets of Winnipeg and small-town British Columbia; the tough teenager who, at 17, managed a drug house run by members of his family, and slipped in and out of juvie, operating in a world of violence and pain.

But behind them all, there was another Clayton: the one who remained immersed in Cree spirituality, and who embraced the rituals and ways of thinking vital to his heritage; the one who reconnected with the land during summer visits to his great-grandparents’ trapline in his home territory of Pukatawagan in northern Manitoba.

And it’s this version of Clayton that ultimately triumphed, finding healing by directly facing the trauma that he shares with Indigenous peoples around the world

Due August 24

 

All’s Well by Mona Awad

 

 

Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theatre director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised—and cost—her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hell-bent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.

That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible, doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known.

Due August 3

 


 

Patti Anticipates

 

Tunnel 29 by Helena Merriman

 

 

In September 1961, at the height of the Cold War, 22-year-old Joachim Rudolph escaped from East Germany, one of the world’s most brutal regimes. He’d risked everything to do it. Then, a few months later, working with a group of students, he picked up a spade… and tunneled back in.

The goal was to tunnel into the East to help people escape. They spend months digging, hauling up carts of dirt in a tunnel ventilated by stove pipes. But the odds are against them: a Stasi agent infiltrates their group and on their first attempt, and dozens of escapees and some of the diggers are arrested and imprisoned. Despite the risk of prison and death, a month later, Joachim and the other try again and hit more bad luck: the tunnel springs a leak. After several attempts, run-ins with a spy and secret police, and some unlikely financial aid from an American TV network, they finally break through into the East, and free 29 people.

Due August 24

 

Last Summer in the City by Gianfranco Calligarich

 

 

In a city smothering under the summer sun and an overdose of la dolce vita, Leo Gazarra spends his time in an alcoholic haze, bouncing between run-down hotels and the homes of his rich and well-educated friends, without whom he would probably starve. At thirty, he’s still drifting: between jobs that mean nothing to him, between human relationships both ephemeral and frayed. Everyone he knows wants to graduate, get married, get rich—but not him. He has no ambitions whatsoever. Rather than toil and spin, isn’t it better to submit to the alienation of the Eternal City, Rome, sometimes a cruel and indifferent mistress, sometimes sweet and sublime? There can be no half measures with her, either she’s the love of your life or you have to
leave her.

First discovered by Natalia Ginzburg, Last Summer in the City is a forgotten classic of Italian literature, a great novel of a stature similar to that of The Great Gatsby or The Catcher in the Rye. Gianfranco Calligarich’s enduring masterpiece has drawn comparisons to such writers as Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Jonathan Franzen and is here made available in English for the first time.

Due August August 10

 


 

‘Tis the season for hummingbirds, so perhaps it’s no surprise a couple of them show up in our most recent set of recommendations.

Ben Recommends

Zero Fail by Carol Leonnig

 

 

The Secret Service was born in 1865, in the wake of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, but its story begins in earnest in 1963, with the death of John F. Kennedy. Shocked into reform by its failure to protect the president on that fateful day in Dallas, this once-sleepy agency was radically transformed into an elite, highly trained unit that would redeem itself several times, most famously in 1981 by thwarting an assassination attempt against Ronald Reagan. But this reputation for courage and excellence would not last forever. By Barack Obama’s presidency, the once-proud Secret Service was running on fumes and beset by mistakes and alarming lapses in judgment: break-ins at the White House, an armed gunman firing into the windows of the residence while confused agents stood by, and a massive prostitution scandal among agents in Cartagena, to name just a few. With Donald Trump’s arrival, a series of promised reforms were cast aside, as a president disdainful of public service instead abused the Secret Service to rack up political and personal gains.

To explore these problems in the ranks, Leonnig interviewed dozens of current and former agents, government officials, and whistleblowers who put their jobs on the line to speak out about a hobbled agency that’s in desperate need of reform

 

Last Hummingbird West of Chile by Nicholas Ruddock

 

 

A stunning work of imaginative fiction, Last Hummingbird West of Chile spins a tale of adventure that is in turn comedic, violent, poignant and thoughtful. Through the exploits of a young sailor born in questionable circumstance and a pair of murderous servants, as well as an assortment of other 19th century regulars, the vital subjects of today—race, religion, sexuality, environment—are framed in history and human culture.

Through narration by human protagonists, a tree, a hummingbird, various beasts, and the landscape itself, Ruddock tells a story of colonialism and environment, brutality and privilege, and the best and worst of human nature.

 


 

Rupert Recommends

African Europeans by Olivette Otele

 

 

As early as the third century, St Maurice—an Egyptian—became leader of the legendary Roman Theban Legion. Ever since, there have been richly varied encounters between those defined as ‘Africans’ and those called ‘Europeans’. Yet Africans and African Europeans are still widely believed to be only a recent presence in Europe.

Olivette Otele traces a long African European heritage through the lives of individuals both ordinary and extraordinary. She uncovers a forgotten past, from Emperor Septimius Severus, to enslaved Africans living in Europe during the Renaissance, and all the way to present-day migrants moving to Europe’s cities. By exploring a history that has been long overlooked, she sheds light on questions very much alive today—on racism, identity, citizenship, power and resilience.

 

Sad Janet by Lucie Britsch

 

 

Janet works at a rundown dog shelter in the woods. She wears black, loves The Smiths, and can’t wait to get rid of her passive-aggressive boyfriend. Her brain is full of anxiety, like “one of those closets you never want to open because everything will fall out and crush you.” She has a meddlesome family, eccentric coworkers, one old friend who’s left her for Ibiza, and one new friend who’s really just a neighbor she sees in the hallway. Most of all, Janet has her sadness—a comfortable cloak she uses to insulate herself from the oppressions of the wider world.

That is, until one fateful summer when word spreads about a new pill that offers even cynics like her a short-term taste of happiness . . . .just long enough to make it through the holidays without wanting to stab someone with a candy cane.

 


 

 

Danielle Recommends

In the Freud Archives by Janet Malcolm

 

 

In the Freud Archives tells the story of an unlikely encounter among three men: K. R. Eissler, the venerable doyen of psychoanalysis; Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, a flamboyant, restless forty-two-year-old Sanskrit scholar turned psychoanalyst turned virulent anti-Freudian; and Peter Swales, a mischievous thirty-five-year-old former assistant to the Rolling Stones and self-taught Freud scholar. At the center of their Oedipal drama are the Sigmund Freud Archives–founded, headed, and jealously guarded by Eissler–whose sealed treasure gleams and beckons to the community of Freud scholarship as if it were the Rhine gold.

A story of infatuation and disappointment, betrayal and revenge, In the Freud Archives is essentially a comedy. But the powerful presence of Freud himself and the harsh bracing air of his ideas about unconscious life hover over the narrative and give it a tragic dimension.

 

Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett

 

 

They say boys don’t cry.
But Finn’s seen his Da do it when he thinks no one’s looking, so that’s not true.
And isn’t it OK to be sad, when bad things happen?

Joe is 17, a gifted artist and a brilliant older brother to 12-year-old Finn. They live with their Ma and Da in a Dublin tower block called Bojaxhiu or ‘the Jax’. It’s not an easy place to be a kid, especially when your father, Frank, is the muscle for the notorious gang leader Dessie ‘The Badger’ Murphy. But whether it’s daytrips to the beach or drawing secret sketches, Joe works hard to show Finn life beyond the battered concrete yard below their flat.

Joe is determined not to become like his Da. But when Finn falls ill, Joe finds his convictions harder to cling to. With his father now in prison, his mother submerged in her grief, and his relationships with friends and classmates crumbling, Joe has to figure out how to survive without becoming what the world around him expects him to be.

 


 

 

Olivia Recommends

My Broken Language by Quiara Alegría Hudes

 

 

Quiara Alegría Hudes was the sharp-eyed girl on the stairs while her family danced in her grandmother’s tight North Philly kitchen. She was awed by her aunts and uncles and cousins, but haunted by the secrets of the family and the unspoken, untold stories of the barrio—even as she tried to find her own voice in the sea of language around her, written and spoken, English and Spanish, bodies and books, Western art and sacred altars. Her family became her private pantheon, a gathering circle of powerful orisha-like women with tragic real-world wounds, and she vowed to tell their stories—but first she’d have to get off the stairs and join the dance. She’d have to find her language.

Weaving together Hudes’s love of books with the stories of her family, the lessons of North Philly with those of Yale, this is an inspired exploration of home, memory, and belonging—narrated by an obsessed girl who fought to become an artist so she could capture the world she loved in all its wild and delicate beauty.

 

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanDerMeer

 

 

 

Software manager Jane Smith receives an envelope containing a key to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and salamander. Alongside the key is a list of five other animals. The list is signed, “Love, Silvina.” Jane does not know a Silvina, and she wants nothing to do with the taxidermied animals. The hummingbird and salamander are, it turns out, two of the most endangered species in the world. Silvina Vilcapampa, the woman who left the note, is a reputed eco-terrorist, and the daughter of a recently deceased Argentine industrialist. And by removing the hummingbird and the salamander from the storage unit, Jane has set into motion a series of events over which she has no control.

 


 

Patti Recommends

What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky

 

 

On a beautiful spring day, a small village wakes up to an omen: Selma has dreamed of an okapi. Someone is about to die.

Luisa, Selma’s ten-year-old granddaughter, looks on as the predictable characters of her small world begin acting strangely. Though they claim not to be superstitious, each of her neighbors newly grapples with buried secrets and deferred decisions that have become urgent in the face of death.

Luisa’s mother struggles to decide whether to end her marriage. An old family friend, known only as the optician, tries to find the courage to tell Selma he loves her. Only sad Marlies remains unchanged, still moping around her house and cooking terrible food. But when the prophesied death finally comes, the circumstances fall outside anyone’s expectations. The loss forever changes Luisa and shapes her for years to come, as she encounters life’s great questions alongside her devoted friends, young and old.

 

Wayward by Dana Spiotta

 

 

On the heels of the election of 2016, Samantha Raymond’s life begins to come apart: her mother is ill, her teenage daughter is increasingly remote, and at fifty-two she finds herself staring into “the Mids”–that hour of supreme wakefulness between three and four in the morning in which women of a certain age suddenly find themselves contemplating motherhood, mortality, and, in this case, the state of our unraveling nation.

When she falls in love with a beautiful, decrepit house in a hardscrabble neighborhood in Syracuse, she buys it on a whim and flees her suburban life–and her family–as she grapples with how to be a wife, a mother, and a daughter, in a country that is coming apart at the seams.

 


 

 

From hot topics to cold wars in this set of upcoming books we’re looking forward to. Don’t forget to call or email us if anything looks interesting!

Ben Anticipates

 

Better to Have Gone by Akash Kapur

 

 

It’s the late 1960s, and two lovers converge on an arid patch of earth in South India. John Walker is the handsome scion of a powerful East Coast American family. Diane Maes is a beautiful hippie from Belgium. They have come to build a new world—Auroville, an international utopian community for thousands of people. Their faith is strong, the future bright.

So how do John and Diane end up dying two decades later, on the same day, on a cracked concrete floor in a thatch hut by a remote canyon? This is the mystery Akash Kapur sets out to solve in Better to Have Gone, and it carries deep personal resonance: Diane and John were the parents of Akash’s wife, Auralice. Akash and Auralice grew up in Auroville; like the rest of their community, they never really understood those deaths.

 

 

The Art of Patience by Sylvain Tesson

 

 

Adventurer Sylvain Tesson has led a restless life, riding across Central Asia on horseback, freeclimbing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and traversing the Himalayas by foot. But while recovering from an accident that left him in a coma, and nursing his wounds from a lost love, he found himself domesticated, his lust for life draining with each moment spent staring at a screen. An expedition to the mountains of Tibet, in search of the famously elusive snow leopard, presented itself as a cure.

For the chance to glimpse this near mythical beast, Tesson and his companions must wait for hours without making a sound or a movement, enduring the thin air and brutal cold. Their vigil becomes an act of faith–many have pursued the snow leopard for years without seeing it–and as they keep their watch, Tesson comes to embrace the virtues of patience and silence. His faith is rewarded when the snow leopard, the spirit of the mountain, reveals itself: an embodiment of what we have surrendered in our contemporary lives. And the simple act of waiting proves to be an antidote to the frenzy of our times.

 


Rupert Anticipates

 

Checkmate in Berlin by Giles Milton

 

 

Berlin’s fate was sealed at the 1945 Yalta Conference: the city, along with the rest of Germany, was to be carved up among the victorious powers— the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. On paper, it seemed a pragmatic solution. In reality, once the four powers were no longer united by the common purpose of defeating Germany, they wasted little time reverting to their prewar hostility toward—and suspicion of—one another. The veneer of civility between the Western allies and the Soviets was to break down in spectacular fashion in Berlin. Rival systems, rival ideologies, and rival personalities ensured that the German capital became an explosive battleground.

 

Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North

 

 

Ven was once a holy man, a keeper of ancient archives. It was his duty to interpret archaic texts, sorting useful knowledge from the heretical ideas of the Burning Age—a time of excess and climate disaster. For in Ven’s world, such material must be closely guarded so that the ills that led to that cataclysmic era can never be repeated.

But when the revolutionary Brotherhood approaches Ven, pressuring him to translate stolen writings that threaten everything he once held dear, his life will be turned upside down. Torn between friendship and faith, Ven must decide how far he’s willing to go to save this new world—and how much he is willing to lose.

 


Danielle Anticipates

 

Feminist Antifascism by Ewa Majewska

 

 

Feminism as the bulwark against fascism

In this exciting, innovative work, Polish feminist philosopher Ewa Majewska proposes a specifically feminist politics of antifascism. Mixing theoretical discussion with engaging reflections on personal experiences, Majewska proposes what she calls “counterpublics of the common” and “weak resistance,” offering an alternative to heroic forms of subjectivity produced by neoliberal capitalism and contemporary fascism.

 

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

 

 

An ambitious mother puts her art career on hold to stay at home with her newborn son, but the experience does not match her imagination. Two years later, she steps into the bathroom for a break from her toddler’s demands, only to discover a dense patch of hair on the back of her neck. In the mirror, her canines suddenly look sharper than she remembers. Her husband, who travels for work five days a week, casually dismisses her fears from faraway hotel rooms.

As the mother’s symptoms intensify, and her temptation to give into her new dog impulses peak, she struggles to keep her alter-canine-identity secret. Seeking a cure at the library, she discovers the mysterious academic tome which becomes her bible, “A Field Guide to Magical Women: A Mythical Ethnography,” and meets a group of mommies involved in a multi-level-marketing scheme who may also be more than what they seem.

 


Olivia Anticipates

 

All Our Shimmering Skies by Tent Dalton

 

 

Darwin, 1942. As Japanese bombs rain down on her hometown, newly orphaned Molly Hook looks to the skies and runs for her life. Inside a duffel bag, she carries a stone heart and a map that will lead her to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer whom she believes cursed her family. Accompanying her are the most unlikely traveling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress, and Yukio, a Japanese fighter pilot who’s abandoned his post.

With messages from the skies above to guide them towards treasure, but foes close on their trail, the trio will encounter the beauty and vastness of the Northern Territory and survive in ways they never thought possible.

 

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

 

 

How do you grieve, if your family doesn’t talk about feelings?

This is the question the unnamed protagonist of Ghost Forest considers after her father dies. One of the many Hong Kong “astronaut” fathers, he stayed in Hong Kong to work, while the rest of the family immigrated to Vancouver before the 1997 Handover, when the British returned sovereignty over Hong Kong to China.

As she revisits memories of her father throughout the years, she struggles with unresolved questions and misunderstandings. Turning to her mother and grandmother for answers, she discovers her own life refracted brightly in theirs.

 


Patti Anticipates

 

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

 

 

More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another over-filled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. And only one has made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials but of Vanna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though she and the boy are complete strangers, though they don’t speak a common language, she determines to do whatever it takes to save him.

 

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

 

 

An interpreter has come to The Hague to escape New York and work at the International Court. A woman of many languages and identities, she is looking for a place to finally call home.

She’s drawn into simmering personal dramas: her lover, Adriaan, is separated from his wife but still entangled in his marriage. Her friend Jana witnesses a seemingly random act of violence, a crime the interpreter becomes increasingly obsessed with as she befriends the victim’s sister. And she’s pulled into an explosive political controversy when she’s asked to interpret for a former president accused of war crimes.

A woman of quiet passion, she confronts power, love, and violence, both in her personal intimacies and in her work at the Court. She is soon pushed to the precipice, where betrayal and heartbreak threaten to overwhelm her, forcing her to decide what she wants from her life.

 


From sorrow to bliss and just about every emotion in between in this week’s recommendations.

 

Ben Recommends

Festival Days by Jo Ann Beard

 

 

When “The Fourth State of Matter,” her now famous piece about a workplace massacre at the University of Iowa was published in The New Yorker, Jo Ann Beard immediately became one of the most influential writers in America, forging a path for a new generation of young authors willing to combine the dexterity of fiction with the rigors of memory and reportage, and in the process extending the range of possibility for the essay form.

Now, with Festival Days, Beard brings us the culmination of her groundbreaking work. In these nine pieces, she captures both the small, luminous moments of daily existence and those instants when life and death hang in the balance, ranging from the death of a beloved dog to a relentlessly readable account of a New York artist trapped inside a burning building, as well as two triumphant, celebrated pieces of short fiction.

 

The Performance by Claire Thomas

 

 

One night, three women go to the theater to see a play. Wildfires are burning in the hills outside, but inside the theater it is time for the performance to take over.

Margot is a successful, flinty professor on the cusp of retirement, distracted by her fraught relationship with her adult son and her ailing husband. After a traumatic past, Ivy is is now a philanthropist with a seemingly perfect life. Summer is a young drama student, an usher at the theater, and frantically worried for her girlfriend whose parents live in the fire zone.

While the performance unfolds on stage, so does the compelling trajectory that will bring these three women together, changing them all.

 


 

Rupert Recommends

The Horde by Marie Favereau

 

 

The Mongols are widely known for one thing: conquest. In the first comprehensive history of the Horde, the western portion of the Mongol empire that arose after the death of Chinggis Khan, Marie Favereau shows that the accomplishments of the Mongols extended far beyond war. For three hundred years, the Horde was no less a force in global development than Rome had been. It left behind a profound legacy in Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East, palpable to this day.

The Horde is the eloquent, ambitious, and definitive portrait of an empire little understood and too readily dismissed. Challenging conceptions of nomads as peripheral to history, Favereau makes clear that we live in a world inherited from the Mongol moment.

 

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

 

 

The Briscoe family is once again the talk of their small town when March returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms. Her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change? Within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold them together might be exactly what drag them all down.

An expansive tour de force, Olympus, Texas cleverly weaves elements of classical mythology into a thoroughly modern family saga.

 


 

Danielle Recommends

The Creep by Michael Lapointe

 

 

A respected byline in the culture pages of the venerable New York magazine The Bystander, journalist Whitney Chase grapples with a mysterious compulsion to enhance her coverage with intriguing untruths and undetectable white lies. She calls it “the creep”–an overpowering need to improve the story in the telling. And she has a particular genius for getting away with it.

Set against the ramp-up to the US invasion of Iraq and the decline of print journalism, Michael LaPointe’s panoramic, ingeniously plotted debut paints an affecting portrait of an increasingly unequal twenty-first century, exploring how deceitfulness, self-enhancement, and confidently delivered lies can be transfused into fact and constitute a broader violence against the social fabric and public trust.

 

The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

 

 

Almost every afternoon, the Woman in the Purple Skirt sits on the same park bench, where she eats a cream bun while the local children make a game of trying to get her attention. Unbeknownst to her, she is being watched–by the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, who is always perched just out of sight, monitoring which buses she takes, what she eats, whom she speaks to.

From a distance, the Woman in the Purple Skirt looks like a schoolgirl, but there are age spots on her face, and her hair is dry and stiff. She is single, she lives in a small apartment, and she is short on money–just like the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, who lures her to a job as a housekeeper at a hotel, where she too is a housekeeper. Soon, the Woman in the Purple Skirt is having an affair with the boss and all eyes are on her. But no one knows or cares about the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan. That’s the difference between her and the Woman in the Purple Skirt.

 


 

Olivia Recommends

Floating in a Most Peculiar Way by Louis Chude-Sokei

 

 

The astonishing journey of a bright, utterly displaced boy, from the short-lived African nation of Biafra, to Jamaica, to the harshest streets of Los Angeles—a searing memoir that adds fascinating depth to the coming-to-America story.

The first time Chude-Sokei realizes that he is “first son of the first son” of a renowned leader of the bygone African nation is in Uncle Daddy and Big Auntie’s strict religious household in Jamaica, where he lives with other abandoned children. A visiting African has just fallen to his knees to shake him by the shoulders: “Is this the boy? Is this him?”

Floating in a Most Peculiar Way is a boisterous pan-African memoir of honorary aunts, uncles, and cousins that becomes Chude-Sokei’s secret society, teaching him the redemptive skill of navigating not just Blackness, but Blacknesses, in his America.

 

 

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez

 

 

In a terrifyingly familiar near-future, with massive floods that lead to rampant homelessness and devastation, a government-sanctioned regime called the Boots seizes the opportunity to force communities of colour, the disabled and the LGBTQ2S into labour camps in the city of Toronto.

In the shadows, a new hero emerges. After his livelihood and the love of his life are taken away, Kay joins the resistance alongside Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee, and Firuzeh, a headstrong social worker. Guiding them in the use of weapons and close-quarters combat is Beck, a rogue army officer who helps them plan an uprising at a major internationally televised event.

 


 

Patti Recommends

Should we Stay or Should we Go by Lionel Shriver

 

 

When her father dies, Kay Wilkinson can’t cry. Over ten years, Alzheimer’s had steadily eroded this erudite man into a paranoid lunatic. Surely one’s own father passing should never come as such a relief.

Both medical professionals, Kay and her husband Cyril have seen too many elderly patients in similar states of decay. Although healthy and vital in their early fifties, the couple fears what may lie ahead. Determined to die with dignity, Cyril makes a modest proposal. To spare themselves and their loved ones such a humiliating and protracted decline, they should agree to commit suicide together once they’ve both turned eighty. When their deal is sealed, the spouses are blithely looking forward to another three decades together.

But then they turn eighty.

By turns hilarious and touching, playful and grave, Should We Stay or Should We Go portrays twelve parallel universes, each exploring a possible future for Kay and Cyril.

 

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

 

 

Martha Friel just turned forty. Once, she worked at Vogue and planned to write a novel. Now, she creates internet content. She used to live in a pied-à-terre in Paris. Now she lives in a gated community in Oxford, the only person she knows without a PhD, a baby or both, in a house she hates but cannot bear to leave. But she must leave, now that her husband Patrick—the kind who cooks, throws her birthday parties, who loves her and has only ever wanted her to be happy—has just moved out.

Because there’s something wrong with Martha, and has been for a long time. When she was seventeen, a little bomb went off in her brain and she was never the same. But countless doctors, endless therapy, every kind of drug later, she still doesn’t know what’s wrong, why she spends days unable to get out of bed or alienates both strangers and her loved ones with casually cruel remarks.

 


 

As the weather warms up, we have some suggestions soon to be hot off the press.

Ben Anticipates

This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan

 

 

Of all the things humans rely on plants for—sustenance, beauty, medicine, fragrance, flavor, fiber—surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Take coffee and tea: People around the world rely on caffeine to sharpen their minds. But we do not usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use as an addiction, because it is legal and socially acceptable. So, then, what is a “drug”?

In this unique blend of history, science, and memoir, as well as participatory journalism, Pollan examines and experiences plants from several very different angles and contexts, and shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively—as a drug, whether licit or illicit.

 

Due July 6

 

Ethel Rosenberg by Anne Sebba

 

 

In June 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a couple with two young sons, were led separately from their prison cells on Death Row and electrocuted moments apart. Both had been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union, despite the fact that the US government was aware that the evidence against Ethel was shaky at best and based on the perjury of her own brother.

This book is the first to focus on one half of that couple for more than thirty years, and much new evidence has surfaced since then. Ethel was a bright girl who might have fulfilled her personal dream of becoming an opera singer, but instead found herself struggling with the social mores of the 1950’s. She longed to be a good wife and perfect mother, while battling the political paranoia of the McCarthy era, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and a mother who never valued her. Because of her profound love for and loyalty to her husband, she refused to incriminate him, despite government pressure on her to do so. Instead, she courageously faced the death penalty for a crime she hadn’t committed, orphaning her children.

 

Due June 8

 


 

Rupert Anticipates

Troy by Stephen Fry

 

 

In this brilliant conclusion to his bestselling Mythos trilogy, legendary author and actor Stephen Fry retells the tale of the Trojan War.

Full of tragic heroes, intoxicating love stories, and the unstoppable force of fate, there is no conflict more iconic than the Trojan War. Troy is the story of the epic battle retold by Fry with drama, humor, and vivid emotion. Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, Helen, their lovers, and their mortal enemies all burn bright in Fry’s compelling prose.

 

Due June 22

 

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

 

 

In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry—freed by the Emancipation Proclamation—seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.

Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community.

 

Due June 15

 


 

Danielle Anticipates

Distant Fathers by Marina Jarre

 

 

This singular autobiography unfurls from author Marina Jarre’s native Latvia during the 1920s and ’30s and expands southward to the Italian countryside. In distinctive writing as poetic as it is precise, Jarre depicts an exceptionally multinational and complicated family: her elusive, handsome father—a Jew who perished in the Holocaust; her severe, cultured mother—an Italian Lutheran who translated Russian literature; and her sister and Latvian grandparents. Jarre tells of her passage from childhood to adolescence, first as a linguistic minority in a Baltic nation and then in traumatic exile to Italy after her parents’ divorce. Jarre lives with her maternal grandparents, French-speaking Waldensian Protestants in the Alpine valleys southwest of Turin, where she finds fascist Italy a problematic home for a Riga-born Jew. This memoir—likened to Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov or Annie Ernaux’s The Years and now translated into English for the first time—probes questions of time, language, womanhood, belonging and estrangement, while asking what homeland can be for those who have none, or many more than one.

 

Due July 2

 

Filthy Animals by Brandon Taylor

 

 

In the series of linked stories at the heart of Filthy Animals, set among young creatives in the American Midwest, a young man treads delicate emotional waters as he navigates a series of sexually fraught encounters with two dancers in an open relationship, forcing him to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness. In other stories, a young woman battles with the cancers draining her body and her family; menacing undercurrents among a group of teenagers explode in violence on a winter night; a little girl tears through a house like a tornado, driving her babysitter to the brink; and couples feel out the jagged edges of connection, comfort, and cruelty.

Psychologically taut and quietly devastating, Filthy Animals is a tender portrait of the fierce longing for intimacy, the lingering presence of pain, and the desire for love in a world that seems, more often than not, to withhold it.

 

Due June 22

 


 

Olivia Anticipates

Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi

 

 

In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal.

Electrifying and inspiring, animated by the same voracious intelligence that distinguishes their fiction, Dear Senthuran is a revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival.

 

Due June 8

 

Home of the Floating Lily by Silmy Abdullah

 

 

Set in both Canada and Bangladesh, the eight stories in Home of the Floating Lily follow the lives of everyday people as they navigate the complexities of migration, displacement, love, friendship, and familial conflict. A young woman moves to Toronto after getting married but soon discovers her husband is not who she believes him to be. A mother reconciles her heartbreak when her sons defy her expectations and choose their own paths in life. A lonely international student returns to Bangladesh and forms an unexpected bond with her domestic helper. A working-class woman, caught between her love for Bangladesh and her determination to raise her daughter in Canada, makes a life-altering decision after a dark secret from the past is revealed.

In each of the stories, characters embark on difficult journeys in search of love, dignity, and a sense of belonging.

 

Due June 22

 


 

Patti Anticipates

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

 

 

1929. Fifteen-year-old Mehar is one of three wives married to three brothers on a farm in small-town Punjab. The problem is, she doesn’t know which of them is her husband. She and her “sisters” spend their days hard at work, sequestered from the men–except when their domineering mother-in-law, Mai, summons them to a darkened chamber at night. Curious and headstrong, Mehar can’t help but try to piece together what Mai doesn’t want her to know. From beneath her veil, she studies the sounds of the men’s voices, the calluses on their fingers as she serves their tea. When at last, through the slats of the family’s china room, she glimpses something that seems to confirm her husband’s identity, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk.

1999. A British Sikh man drops out of university and travels to Punjab, hoping to shake an addiction that has held him in its grip for over a year. Growing up in small-town England, the son of an immigrant shopkeeper, his experiences of racist ostracism and violence led him to seek a dangerous form of escape. Now, as he rides out his withdrawal at an old farmstead belonging to the family, he meets a woman, an outcast who offers him friendship.

 

Due July 13

 

Shoko’s Smile by Choi Eunyoung

 

 

In crisp, unembellished prose, Eun-young Choi paints intimate portraits of the lives of young women in South Korea, balancing the personal with the political. In the title story, a fraught friendship between an exchange student and her host sister follows them from adolescence to adulthood. In “A Song from Afar,” a young woman grapples with the death of her lover, traveling to Russia to search for information about the deceased. In “Secret,” the parents of a teacher killed in the Sewol ferry sinking hide the news of her death from her grandmother.
In the tradition of Sally Rooney, Banana Yoshimoto, and Marilynne Robinson–writers from different cultures who all take an unvarnished look at human relationships and the female experience–Choi Eunyoung is a writer to watch.

 

Due June 1

 


 

A couple of books of essays as well as some evocative fiction in this week’s recommendations.

 

Ben Recommends

The Window Seat by Aminatta Forna

 

 

Movement is a constant here. In the title piece, The Window Seat,” Aminatta Forna reveals the unexpected enchantments of commercial air travel. In “Obama and the Renaissance Generation,” she documents how, despite the narrative of Obama’s exceptionalism, his father, like her own, was one of a generation of gifted young Africans who came to the United Kingdom and the United States for education and were expected to build their home countries anew after colonialism. In “The Last Vet,” time spent shadowing Dr. Jalloh, the only veterinarian in Sierra Leone, as he works with the street dogs of Freetown, becomes a meditation on what a society’s treatment of animals tells us about its principles.

Deeply meditative and written with a wry humor, The Window Seat confirms that Forna is a vital voice in international letters.

 

Untraceable by Sergei Lebedev

 

 

The terrifying, lengthening list of Russia’s use of lethal poisons against its critics has inspired acclaimed author Sergei Lebedev’s latest novel. With uncanny timing, he examines how and why Russia and the Soviet Union have developed horrendous neurotoxins. At its center is a ruthless chemist named Professor Kalitin, obsessed with developing an absolutely deadly, undetectable and untraceable poison for which there is no antidote. But Kalitin becomes consumed by guilt over countless deaths from his Faustian pact to create the ultimate venom. When the Soviet Union collapses, the chemist defects and is given a new identity in Western Europe. After another Russian is murdered with Kalitin’s poison, his cover is blown and he’s drawn into an investigation of the death by Western agents.

In this fast-paced, genre-bending tale, Lebedev weaves suspenseful pages of stunningly beautiful prose exploring the historical trajectories of evil. From Nazi labs, Stalinist plots and the Chechen Wars, to present-day Russia, Lebedev probes the ethical responsibilities of scientists supplying modern tyrants and autocrats with ever newer instruments of retribution, destruction and control.

 


 

Rupert Recommends

How Spies Think by David Omand

 

 

Looking through the eyes of one of Britain’s most senior ex-intelligence officers, Professor Sir David Omand, How Spies Think shows how the big decisions in your life will be easier to make when you apply the same frameworks used by British intelligence. Full of revealing examples from his storied career, including key briefings with Prime Ministers from Thatcher to Blair, and conflicts from the Falklands to Afghanistan, Professor Omand arms us with the tools to sort fact from fiction, and shows us how to use real intelligence every day.

 

A Tip for the Hangman by Allison Epstein

 

 

England, 1585. In Kit Marlowe’s last year at Cambridge, he receives an unexpected visitor: Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, who has come with an unorthodox career opportunity. Her Majesty’s spies are in need of new recruits, and Kit’s flexible moral compass has drawn their attention. Kit, a scholarship student without money or prospects, accepts the offer, and after his training the game is on. Kit is dispatched to the chilly manor where Mary, Queen of Scots is under house arrest, to act as a servant in her household and keep his ear to the ground for a Catholic plot to put Mary on the throne.

 


 

Danielle Recommends

Who Will Pay Reparations on my Soul? by Jesse McCarthy

 

 

Ranging from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s case for reparations to Toni Morrison’s revolutionary humanism to D’Angelo’s simmering blend of R&B and racial justice, Jesse McCarthy’s bracing essays investigate with virtuosic intensity the art, music, literature, and political stances that have defined the twenty-first century. Even as our world has suffered through successive upheavals, McCarthy contends, “something was happening in the world of culture: a surging and unprecedented visibility at every level of black art making.” Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? reckons with this resurgence, arguing for the central role of art and intellectual culture in an age of widening inequality and moral crisis.

 

Minor Detail by Adania Shibli

 

 

Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba—the catastrophe that led to the displacement and exile of some 700,000 people—and the Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Israeli soldiers murder an encampment of Bedouin in the Negev desert, and among their victims they capture a Palestinian teenager and they rape her, kill her, and bury her in the sand.

Many years later, in the near-present day, a young woman in Ramallah tries to uncover some of the details surrounding this particular rape and murder, and becomes fascinated to the point of obsession, not only because of the nature of the crime, but because it was committed exactly twenty-five years to the day before she was born. Adania Shibli masterfully overlays these two translucent narratives of exactly the same length to evoke a present forever haunted by the past.

 


 

Olivia Recommends

A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt

 

 

Opening with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life on the Driftpile First Nation, Billy-Ray Belcourt delivers a searing account of Indigenous life that’s part love letter, part rallying cry.

With the lyricism and emotional power of his award-winning poetry, Belcourt cracks apart his history and shares it with us one fragment at a time. He shines a light on Canada’s legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it. He revisits sexual encounters, ruminates on first loves and first loves lost, and navigates the racial politics of gay hookup apps. Among the hard truths he distills, the outline of a brighter future takes shape.

 

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

 

 

In a crowded London pub, two young people meet. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists—he a photographer, she a dancer—and both are trying to make their mark in a world that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence, and over the course of a year they find their relationship tested by forces beyond their control.

Narrated with deep intimacy, Open Water is at once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity that asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body; to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength; to find safety in love, only to lose it.

 


 

Patti Recommends

Friends and Dark Shapes by Kavita Bedford

 

 

Sydney’s inner city is very much its own place, yet also a stand in for gentrifying inner-city suburbs the world over. Here, four young housemates struggle to untangle their complicated relationships while a poignant story of loss, grieving, and recovery unfolds.

The nameless narrator of this story has recently lost her father and now her existence is split in two: she conjures the past in which he was alive and yet lives in the present, where he is not. To others, she appears to have it all together, but the grief she still feels creates an insurmountable barrier between herself and others, between the life she had and the one she leads.

 

Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

 

 

Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently.

Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news–news that forces the life-long friends to confront their own mortality head-on.