A tale of identity and belonging. This is the story of Jesse McCarthy, a male prostitute of Jamaican descent living in London after his family (and church) kicks him out of the house for being in the LGBT community. It's also the story of Norman Alonso, a Jamaican man living in England in the 1950s. Incredibly raw and real, Mendes shows us London in the early 2000s through 2016.
I remember finding a used copy of this book my teens and buying it for the title alone. It turned out to be the first book that made me laugh hysterically while reading. Stewart can turn anything into a comedy, from the Kennedy compound to the chatrooms of AOL in the late 90s, from the Oval Office to the death of the Taco Bell chihuahua. At this point it is filled with callbacks for anyone who was alive in the 90s.
A small community of religious fanatics are all that is left of humanity. They live on the moors of England, a frugal and lonely existence. And they are being hunted by a creature who is picking them off one by one. Kingsnorth has an incredibly unique voice, and it matches this world perfectly. It is related to his 2014 The Wake, but you do not need to read the first to enjoy this story.
This book is an absolute work of art, from the words through the presentation. Karimi writes about a family who has moved from a war torn country to the United States. The story is about not only the family, but about the ones they left behind, about trying to assimilate to a culture that is so different from their native land.
Finnegan details his life in the context of surfing, something that he is so passionate about that he made me long for the sea even though I don't surf. In pursuit of the perfect wave, he took a round-the-world trip over several years in the 70s, including a stint on an uninhabited island and a teaching gig in South Africa. This may be one of the best books I've read in my entire life.
A quick read about a family who moves in stages from China to outside Dallas, TX. They seem like the typical immigrant family until you see them behind closed doors. One misunderstanding leads to another until their lives spiral out of control. I enjoyed not only the story, but also the style in which this was written. Hard to believe this was a debut, and I can't wait for Han to write another novel.
This is the first book in the best fantasy trilogy written in the last few decades. Joe writes incredibly well, and his dark gritty style makes the story. Of all the main characters, my favorite is Logan, also known as The Bloody Nine, a feared warrior and named man from the North who winds up at the king's court before heading off to save the world. Read everything Abercrombie has written, but start here.
This book shook me to my core, to the point where I had to take a few days off before I could jump into my next read. The story revolves around a teenage girl from Mexico who has been raped, and about small town justice, misogyny, racism, and so much more. Each chapter revolves around a powerful woman and her connection to the case. So powerfully written that it does not read like a debut novel.
When we think about the Himalayas, we think about Everest and adventure, yet half of the world's population can be tied directly to this sprawling mountain range. Himalaya gives life to the region. Incredibly researched, Douglas has a true passion for the topic which comes through on every page. This book is not just beautiful, it is also packed with information.
Clarke's first book in 16 years has been well worth the wait. The main character lives in a world like a huge museum, a labyrinth filled with numberless statues that never repeat. The only human that shares these halls is The Other, a person who our main character cannot quite understand, but meets with twice a week. A beautifully executed story, and perfectly worded.
Possibly Ferrante's best stand alone novel. When Giovanna hears her father compare her to an aunt whom the family has distanced themselves from, she wants to meet her hidden family and learn about them. What unfolds is a story of a teenager who loses her footing in the world, who comes to realize that no one is what they seem. Ferrante's descriptions of Naples are stunningly picturesque.
An important read in the technologically controlled world we inhabit now. The Simulmatics Corporation can be held at least partially responsible for data-mining, social networks, political ad campaigns, and behavior modification through mixed media. This company has been all but forgotten since they went bankrupt in 1970. Jill Lepore takes an in-depth look at the ethics of everything they created.
A writer lives on an island where the police can make entire concepts disappear from people's memories, such as emeralds, hats, or music boxes; she is constantly worried that words will be the next to go. A few can remember the past, and they are rounded up and taken away, and no one knows where. The writer attempts to hide one who can remember, her publisher, for a taste of the world she once knew.
This book was written in 2015 but has been translated into English for the first time. Kadare discusses his childhood and his relationship with his mother, a woman who felt trapped in her house (a house with an actual dungeon) and trapped in her own life. Mostly, this story is about how Albania changed from the author's birth in 1933 until his mother's death in the 2000s. A must read for any Kadare fan.
A brilliant ending to a beautifully written quartet. Two siblings who can't seem to agree on anything, their mother, and two young adults who created a nature blog drive to see a 104 year old man whom none of them have met. This provides the framework for a story about the times we live in. While I don't think it is necessary to read the first three volumes, it will add an extra layer to the tale.
An incredible mixture of stories about travel and anatomy. Intertwined are a man who loses his wife and child on a trip in Croatia, Chopin's heart, and the person who originally found the achilles tendon by operating on his own severed leg. In between is the narrator, who has beautiful passages about what it means to be a traveler, about being in motion and refusing roots wherever they try to cling.
The everlasting legend of Tyll Ulenspeigel, one of the most famous characters in German story-telling history, is made new again in this novel set during the Thirty Years' War. Tyll is a jester who knows no bounds and can turn a crowd on itself so quickly that they don't know what has happened. Is the jokester truly happy, or is at all a part of an elaborate show? Darkly lyrical and powerful.
One of my all-time favorite memoirs. Nick Flynn's father abandons his very young kids and wife for alcohol. Years later, Nick is working at a homeless shelter and his father checks in; they try to have a relationship again. Flynn has a way of bringing pure emotion through in writing that very few writers possess. Poetic and heartbreaking and
Another brilliant memoir from Nick Flynn, author of my favorite memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. In this book, Flynn tries to come to terms with new information he learned about his mother years after her suicide: when he was a child, she lit the family home on fire while he and his brother were asleep. He also writes very candidly about his affair, and how his family survived his indiscretions.
Some people purchase robots that live in their homes, and other people use programs to inhabit those robots. The 'keepers' and 'dwellers' are randomly assigned to each other. Schweblin creates several storylines that weave in and out of each other and we follow people as they become comfortable, sometimes too comfortable, with this new technology. I was surprised by how much I liked this creepy novel.
If you're going to read one 1,700 page novel in your life, it should be this one. Gesine and her daughter, Marie, live in New York City. From August 1967 to August 1968, Gesine relives the story of her life in Nazi Germany, then in Soviet occupied Germany, while they both steer through the tumultuous year that saw the deaths of MLK and RFK, violence in the streets of NYC, and Prague Spring. Breathtaking in so many ways.
I was discussing this book with a colleague the other day and remembered how much I loved it, and how relevant it is to our times. Not only does Hunter give an interesting take on politics, he also discusses in great detail the entirety of a campaign and a brokered convention. To date, one of the best books about a political campaign ever written, even if it was a landslide loss for his candidate.
I loved this book for reasons that I find hard to explain. Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Beuys and Basho and Wittgenstein (and many others) are all detailed, their lives all interconnected. In between Sagasti talks about fireflies, asteroids, haikus, and the art of story. This is the best book I've found from Charco Press so far, a small publisher with which I have become enamored.
A woman is murdered and a tape is sent to local news stations. People unconnected with the victim start saying it was a false flag operation designed to make people fear their neighbors. Mostly, this book is about how these rumors effect those closest to the victim and the tragedy itself. One of the more important graphic novels I've read in a long time, especially for his day and age.
I loved Knausgaard's My Struggle series, but this is, in a way, more intimate. In the first two volumes of the quartet, he explains the world in incredible detail, from apples and wasps, to the sun and plastic bags. The third and fourth books are more about the family life around the time of his daughter's birth. Both are wonderful; I've never been more captivated by descriptions of things I already know all about.