Monday, August 2, 2021

Staff Recommendations, Week of August 3, 2021

A new month begins with new books. 

Daniel Goldin recommends Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed. He says: "In San Francisco, a mother and two daughters get together to celebrate the birth of a child, but what should be celebratory is wrought with tension. The mom-to-be, Seema, is estranged from her father and her devout sister Tahera, who since resettling to Texas with her husband now wears both a hijab and a Jilbab and is stressed about an anti-Muslim incident at their mosque back home. Seema herself is juggling a girlfriend, an ex-girlfriend, and her former husband. And her mother Nasheera, visiting from Chennai? It’s likely the last time they will see each other; she’s dying of cancer. As the story darts through time and space, each character must confront the choices they’ve made, and those of the people they love. Radiant Fugitives is a story of faith and family, gracefully told."

Chris Lee has two recommendations this week. First is Afterparties: Stories, the posthumous debut collection by Anthony Veasna So. Chris says: "BELIEVE THE HYPE. In fact, call Afterparties the Goodbye, Columbus of Californian Cambodian-American life. So’s book is a glittering example of what the best story collections do – welcome you fully into a world and render it with diamond cut detail and deep well empathy. Sharply funny, dirty, unsparing, and full of longing, hopes, and American dreams of all kinds – dashed, wildly overachieved, hung onto by a thread, abandoned, and just discovered."

Chris also recommends Immediate Family, by Ashley Nelson Levy. Of this he says: "Ashley Nelson Levy’s language-y, hyper-smart debut is a breathless confessional burst and big-family-questions book all at once. A confessionquestional, if you will. You ever talk people in your head, imagine conversations and arguments? That’s the whole book. Here’s how it goes: the narrator’s brother begs a last-minute wedding toast of her, which sets her off down memory lane, recounting their life, from his adoption in Thailand at 3 years old to the day of his nuptials. Along the way she questions, essays, and debates with herself about adoption, infertility, and cultural histories of both, plus race, addiction, theft, territory and country, motherhood, heritage and genetics, and those eternal biggies: what makes a family? What breaks one? All of it’s explored with the open-hearted intimacy of someone talking in her head to the brother she’s realizing she’s desperate to reconnect with. Lame pun hard sell line: if you want a beautiful, intelligent family novel, buy this one immediately."

Kay Wosewick has two recommendations this week. The first is Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy. Kay says: "Twins Inti and Aggie are very different, yet they are inseparable. McConaghy’s themes of nature versus nurture as well trauma’s varied legacy apply to the twins as well as to many people they come to know well. Much of the story takes place in Scotland’s wildest lands, where Inti is leading the reintroduction of wolves, much to the consternation of local sheep farmers. Hefty doses of conflict of may raise your blood pressure, but in the end, McConaghy will win your heart. This is a wonderful book."

Next, Kay recommends Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson. She says: "Damnation Spring is a must-read for fans of Overstory. Whereas Overstory speaks of the stunning ecology of old-growth forests and the environmentalists who champion them, Damnation Spring transports you directly into the lives and homes of third and fourth generation loggers and their families - people who rely on old-growth forests to maintain very modest lives in small communities dependent on logging. Damnation Spring thrust me into the shoes of loggers, and I stepped out of those shoes with a big dose of empathy injected into my environmentalism. Davidson has written a gritty, humbling, remarkable first book."

Jason Kennedy is all about All’s Well by Mona Awad. Jason says: "Miranda’s brilliant career as a stage actor was halted by a fall that broke her hip.  After surgeries and therapy, she is still in chronic pain. Hobbled, she has become a teacher for a theater department, and they put on a Shakespeare play every year. Everyone seems to have written off Miranda’s pain as in her head, and they (her ex-husband, her best friend, and her physical therapist) can barely hide their disbelief that she has any pain. After a mutiny lead by student who wants a different Shakespeare play, Miranda is distraught and in pain. She drowns her sorrows at the pub, where she meets three mysterious men who know all about her and her pain. After a golden drink, Miranda is able to start transferring her pain to others, and her life takes on a new light. Much like Mona Awad’s Bunny, All’s Well starts to get more and more surreal and fantastical. I loved every minute of this crazy, amazing novel - Mona Awad is madly creative and inventive. Bravo."

No comments:

Post a Comment