Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Staff Recommendations, Week of June 29, 2021

 Another week with a couple new releases in paperback that we're wild about. Let's dive into them now.

A Burning
by Megha Majumdar, as recommended by Kay Wosewick: "The borders in the slums of a large Indian city are porous enough to entangle the lives of three people of different social standing. Each dreams of a different life. Two have the chance to fulfill their dreams if they toss the third to the wolves. Majumdar has set a morality play in a location where morality is a costly luxury. This tender but ultimately brutal tale will raise your empathy and scorch your heart."

Daddy: Stories by Emma Cline, comes with this recommendation from Madi Hill: "Emma Cline’s Daddy is a beautiful short story collection that showcases what a talented writer she is. Each story is unique but tied together by the way they are written: you, the reader, are dropped in the middle of each person’s story during a particularly low point of their lives. Cline allows the narrators to describe as much or as little as they want about how things were, but always details the consequences of their actions with which they now must live. This collection rings with nostalgia for the way things were, but clearly reminds that life only moves forward. Cline’s ability to capture a variety of voices shows how different people at different points in their lives handle their current surroundings. This multitude of perspectives show just how similar we really are, and for that, this book deserves to be read."

The paperback release of Homeland Elegies, the lauded novel by Wisconsin native Ayad Akhtar, came in May, yet due to a clerical error (I wrote down the wrong date) our staff recommendations for this spectacular novel haven't been included in the blog - UNTIL NOW!

From Chris Lee: "Akhtar might just have written that good and daring thing, a new entry into my favorite genre: the Great American Novel. Certainly it’s one of the boldest books on existing in this country post-9/11. Not since Exley’s A Fan’s Notes (and those in the know will know what I mean) can I recall a novel in which a writer was so unashamed to expose the ugliest parts of his country and of himself to create a portrait of an American living in, with, and against America. There’s far too much in this novel for any sort of reductive summary of its parts to give you an idea of what it’s ‘about,’ which of course is a part of its brilliance; there’s little so rare and as rewarding as to read a writer who is willing to do the necessary peeling away of layer after layer of nuance and contradiction, not just throwing out but dismantling and subverting platitudes and easy, false truths, to approach the world honestly. But here, a few broad strokes - it’s about being an immigrant, about being perceived at once as an enemy of the state and an enemy of your family’s homeland. It’s about how history, geography, education, economics, medicine, and yes, Donald Trump, put a father and son at odds with each other, with themselves, and with their country. Most of all, it is an exhaustive examination of that most base, central question in a time when it’s most needed - what is to be an American? This novel is astounding."

From Daniel Goldin: "At first, I felt like I was reading a memoir. But then I began to wonder. Was Ayad Akhtar’s father really Trump’s doctor? And then I realize – classic autofiction misdirect! As the plotline of this second novel unfolds, the story twists and turns around our assumptions about who Ayad Akhtar is. I’m still processing the story, and know that this is not an Indie-Bound-worthy recommendation, but I might have to read it again to say something one millionth as erudite, provocative, and searching as Homeland Elegies."

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