Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Staff Recommendations, Week of June 22, 2021

Looks like we've got a couple of paperback picks for you this week - and away we go!

Chris Lee recommends Death in her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh, acclaimed author of books like My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Eileen. Of this, Chris says, "Ottessa Moshfegh is a modern day Camus. An elderly woman finds a note in the woods that proclaims someone is dead. Murdered, in fact. She investigates between dog walks and early evening naps, but soon facts, memories, and suppositions entwine and overlap until the simple act of asking a question can unravel the thread of an entire life. Ponderous, violent, forgetful, and deft, Death in Her Hands is a genre-bender that teases you into asking - is this noir? Horror? A whacked out farce? Or a sly literary trick? I’ll tell you what it is - absolutely brilliant."

A fun, booksellerish note - Chris's recommendation was chosen as the Indie Next list's top pick last year, the first time a Boswellian has had the #1 Indie pick.

Daniel Goldin recommends Saving Ruby King, the debut novel from Chicago author Catherine Adel West. Daniel says, "Ruby’s mom Alice has died. Her friend Layla knows that Ruby’s dad Lebanon is abusive, and she’s suspicious that maybe he’s responsible for Alice’s death, only Layla’s dad Jackson, a church minister, wants her to have nothing to do with this. What Layla doesn’t know is that Jackson has a secret that binds him close to Lebanon and has led to some blackmail. And what just about any of the younger generation don’t know is that their grandmothers (Sara, Naomi, Violet) also have a secret, but with Naomi dead and Sara dying in a hospital, will they ever find out how this connects to the family legacies? West expertly juggles several characters here and really gives you a rich portrait of Chicago’s South Side. I don’t necessarily think West was intending to write a thriller, but I thought she did well with the mystery elements, offering twists and double twists that changed my perceptions of the characters and made the story hard to put down. I also really liked the way Catherine Adel West made the Church a character in the story, which reminded me of the church ladies functioning as the Greek chorus in Brit Bennett’s The Mothers. I imagine the church as a symbol of redemption, and sure enough it is the church that brings together at least one set of estranged characters. Saving Ruby King is an intensely satisfying reading experience. As the trade journals like to say, highly recommended for all collections!"

We hosted author Adel West last fall when her novel debuted - check out that fantastic conversation here:

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