Staff Pick

Nunez’s extraordinary technique might be summed up in the first line of her mesmerizing novel: “I went to hear a man give a talk,” an unnamed narrator states, aptly introducing a narrative woven of stories, conversations, and ruminations, one in which the listening is no less important than the telling. Nunez’s narrator is expert at both, and her profiles of passing acquaintances—a woman at her gym, her Airbnb host, even her host’s cat—are as vivid and engaging as those of her oldest friends, like her ex, a misanthropic public intellectual obsessed with the climate crisis and her best friend from college, a sharp woman with a dark sense of humor and a daughter estranged nearly from birth. Each story is told—mostly—without judgment, and all are mined for what they suggest about how to live. And how to die, which may or may not be the same question, as Nunez’s protagonist discovers when she agrees to help her college friend end her “battle” with cancer, a partnership that opens new directions in their relationship and leads not only to pathos but to unexpected moments of humor. As with her National Book Award-winning The Friend, there is a lot to think about here, but Nunez couches her deft novel of ideas within a full gamut of emotions.

What Are You Going Through: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780593191415
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - September 8th, 2020

Staff Pick

As you might expect from a writer fluent in cardinal since age six, Nezhukumatathil’s essays are brimming with intimate scenes of natural life, each presented with exuberant prose that mingles scientific exactitude (the stunning pink of the dragon fruit is due to “a rind chock full of lycopene”) with unabashed whimsy (a gray cockatiel is “about three apples tall” and a piece of quartz tastes “like campfire smoke”). As much vivid snapshots as impeccably crafted prose, these brief pieces draw on fable, travel, and memoir to introduce plants and animals ranging from dancing frogs and the impossibly cute smiling axolotl to the more familiar monarch butterfly and flamingo. Linking each creature to the stages of her life--from her childhood as the rare brown person in overwhelmingly white communities, through the loneliness of college, her marriage (to a man who understood the charms of the foul-smelling corpse-flower), motherhood, and career as a teacher and award-winning poet— Nezhukumatathil illuminates the essential bonds between people and the beautiful, singular, awesome—wonderful—flora and fauna we share this planet with. While recognizing the troubles of this divided time, Nezhukumatathil’s first foray into prose is a genuine and whole-heartedly upbeat book.

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781571313652
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 8th, 2020

Staff Pick

Moore was five when her native Liberia erupted in civil war, prompting her family to flee to Sierra Leone and, later the U.S. This was also the year her mother was away, studying at Columbia on a Fulbright. In language as powerful as her story, the author of She Would Be King channels these fraught experiences through both her child and adult sensibilities, delivering a narrative of modern displacement and racism that’s richly inflected with the magical lyricism of a griot’s tale. Her talent with voices is especially effective in the book’s conclusion, when she ghostwrites her mother’s story; these chapters fill in the details of her family’s miraculous escape, show us Moore’s two extraordinary parents—and their blessed marriage—in close up, and celebrate the strength of Vai women such as Moore’s paternal grandmother, who, when she “hummed… her voice formed a shield around us.”

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781644450314
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Graywolf Press - June 2nd, 2020

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