The World as We Knew It, Edited by Amy Brady and Tajja Isen

Staff Pick

To counter the overwhelming nature of climate change, Brady and Isen sought to map ”connection[s] between the personal and the planetary” by asking 19 writers to chronicle what's affected them most in this turbulent time so far. With names including Lydia Millet, Omar El Akkad, and Lidia Yuknavitch, the anthology meets high standards of range and literary quality. Starting with the unbreathable air of Bangkok, examining the long shadows of hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, et al,  and ending with revelations of melting Arctic permafrost as astounding—a prehistoric wolf cub--as they are chilling—potential new viruses—these vivid essays offer urgent glimpses of what no one is prepared for, whether it’s getting through Wisconsin winters of snow so heavy it “felt like the world was caving in,” or climbing a flooded Sierra Nevada where “a mistake could kill you,” or, an insistent theme, struggling with whether to bring children into all this and what to tell them if you do, since there’s “no playbook for parenting in the apocalypse.”

 

The World As We Knew It: Dispatches From a Changing Climate Cover Image
By Amy Brady (Editor), Tajja Isen (Editor)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781646220304
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Catapult - June 14th, 2022

Tokyo Ueno Station, by Yu Miri

Staff Pick

This quietly devastating novel would be almost too painful to read if it wasn’t also so beautiful. Loss figures prominently, but Miri’s rhythmic prose vividly evokes the textures of ordinary life, touching on subjects including weather, work, marriage, parenting, birth, economics, and more. Narrated by Kazu from beyond the grave, the book recounts the story of a man “who never had any luck”; poverty meant he labored far from his family and missed seeing his children grow up. Then his son died at age 21 and his wife soon after. Deeply guilt-ridden, Kazu lived out his years on the streets, and his memories are embedded in a rich tapestry of Tokyo’s sights, sounds, and voices. As the novel culminates in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Miri’s exquisitely sensitive protagonist bears testament to both the limits and the resilience of the human capacity to absorb whatever life tosses our way.

Tokyo Ueno Station: A Novel Cover Image
By Yu Miri, Morgan Giles (Translated by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593187524
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - June 22nd, 2021

Lucky Breaks, by Yevgenia Belorusets

Staff Pick

The Donbas is both a battle ground and a region where ordinary people try to live their lives. Starting with her title—when is something as traumatic as a break “lucky”?-- Belorusets’s powerful collection of photos and brief stories (they range from two sentences to three pages) focuses on such dualities, even as the surrealism of Ukraine splinters into yet more ambiguities, which people try to control through various strategies of magical thinking.  In this “land of residual phenomena,” words provide “form rather than meaning” and nothing is definitive: the situation is neither peace nor war, but “something else.” Exactly what else is conveyed in a series of scenes and, especially, voices. Though many of these scraps are cast as interviews or reference an ”interlocutor,” most become monologues, a move that highlights the difficulty of maintaining connections but also the power of the individual voice and the irrepressible drive to tell one’s story.  Like the women who navigate new dangers each day, we never know where any of these fragments will take us: a tale that starts “once upon a time,” ends in a character with “a needle near her heart.” And when happiness occurs it “falls out of thin air”—much as a bomb might.

 

Lucky Breaks Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811229845
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: New Directions - March 1st, 2022

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