Staff Pick

Set in a South Korean resort town near the DMZ, Dusapin’s arresting first novel is a surprisingly vivid picture of limbo shot in high contrast. The narrator works in a mind-numbing job at a “guest house paralyzed by the cold” where she yearns “to be seen” by a visiting French cartoonist—even as she proves herself a brilliant observer. Through telling images from the synesthetic evocation of “skin clammy from the stench of sea spray that left salt on the cheeks, a taste of iron on the tongue,” to the startling description of how a man’s “throat throbbed when he chewed, like a sickly baby bird, newly born, dying,” Dusapin’s protagonist charts a society stuck in a state of suspended animation, where the only way out is plastic surgery and a move to Seoul—options the woman rejects, yet also makes her own, detailing the way her soup spoon “created ripples, smudging my nose, making my forehead undulate and my cheeks bleed into my skin.” Dusapin’s is a vision of singular power and strange beauty. 

Winter in Sokcho Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781948830416
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Open Letter - April 27th, 2021

Staff Pick

Turn a wall on its side, and you have a bridge. Of course, as Miller knows too well after covering border issues for 15 years, it’s not that simple. The world is suffering from a severe case of “wall sickness,” which fuels and is fueled by nationalism and xenophobia, afflicts nearly everyone whether they work or live near a border or not, diverts resources from, for instance, fighting climate change, to criminalizing climate refugees, and has caused the number of border walls worldwide since 1989 to grow from 15 to 70-plus. Focusing on Southwest desert crossings, Miller draws on a wide range of statistics, analysis, and, most powerfully, interviews with border agents, activists, refugees, and their families to examine arguments for and against open borders. Offering water to a dehydrated man, listening to a father’s anguish over a missing daughter, and recounting an agent’s epiphany when he watched an injured teenager die, Miller argues for the value of our common humanity, showing how we could reinvent the world by replacing competition with cooperation; as with Covid, to heal the ills of discrimination and division, we need to work together for everyone’s benefit. 

Build Bridges, Not Walls: A Journey to a World Without Borders (City Lights Open Media) Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780872868342
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: City Lights Books - April 6th, 2021

Staff Pick

“Brood” has many meanings—from the hopeful act of nesting to the melancholy of dwelling on unhappiness—and Polzin’s accomplished first novel partakes of all of them. In short, vivid  sections with the intimacy of journal entries, the unnamed narrator takes us through the events of a Minnesota year in a town cursed by “a failure to reach potential,” where she waits for news about her husband’s academic appointment, cleans houses, copes with weather, and cares for four chickens. The descriptions of the hens’ daily routines, laying habits, pecking order, appearances, and sad demises are meticulously detailed and lovely: feed in a chute rattles “the small cage that is a chicken” and its comb is a bit of “lobed flesh from outer space [in] an ordinary red.” When, a third of the way in, Polzin’s narrator describes her devastating miscarriage, all the references to eggs and motherhood acquire a sharp emotional resonance, one all the more powerful for the few direct references to it. As she struggles to come to terms with what she can’t understand—both in herself and the birds—the protagonist renders her world in unforgettable images; from “the corner shop, which is always changing hands but never changing,” to uprooted trees that “float up from the ground and dance a tarantella,” Polzin’s language shimmers with beauty and wisdom; like the miracle of sun and nutrients that is a hen’s egg, her prose “appears to glow because it glows.”

 

Brood: A Novel Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780385546751
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Doubleday - March 9th, 2021

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