Atria – $32.00
Calling to mind the best works of Paul Beatty and Junot Díaz, this collection of moving, timely, and darkly funny stories examines the concept of black identity in this so-called post-racial era.
A stunning new talent in literary fiction, Nafissa Thompson-Spires grapples with black identity and the contemporary middle class in these compelling, boundary-pushing vignettes.
Each captivating story plunges headfirst into the lives of new, utterly original characters. Some are darkly humorous—from two mothers exchanging snide remarks through notes in their kids’ backpacks, to the young girl contemplating how best to notify her Facebook friends of her impending suicide—while others are devastatingly poignant—a new mother and funeral singer who is driven to madness with grief for the young black boys who have fallen victim to gun violence, or the teen who struggles between her upper middle class upbringing and her desire to fully connect with black culture.
Thompson-Spires fearlessly shines a light on the simmering tensions and precariousness of black citizenship. Her stories are exquisitely rendered, satirical, and captivating in turn, engaging in the ongoing conversations about race and identity politics, as well as the vulnerability of the black body. Boldly resisting categorization and easy answers, Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an original and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.
W.W. Norton – $29.95
For sheer unpredictable brilliance, Gogol may come to mind, but no author alive today takes a reader as far as Helen DeWitt into the funniest, most yonder dimensions of possibility. Her jumping-off points might be statistics, romance, the art world’s piranha tank, games of chance and games of skill, the travails of publishing, or success. “Look,” a character begins to explain, laying out some gambit reasonably enough, even if facing a world of boomeranging counterfactuals, situations spinning out to their utmost logical extremes, and Rube Goldberg-like moving parts, where things prove “more complicated than they had first appeared” and “at 3 a.m. the circumstances seem to attenuate.” In various ways, each tale carries DeWitt’s signature poker-face lament regarding the near-impossibility of the life of the mind when one is made to pay to have the time for it, in a world so sadly “taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination.”
July’s “Perfect” Book of the Month
Penguin Canada – $22.95 less 20 %
From internationally bestselling author Sarah Winman comes an unforgettable and heartbreaking novel celebrating love in all its forms and the little moments that make up the life of an autoworker in a small working-class town.
This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.
Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.
But then we fast-forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?
With beautiful prose and characters that are so real they jump off the page, Tin Man is a love letter to human kindness and friendship, and to loss and living.
Knopf – $36.95
“Reporter is just wonderful. Truly a great life, and what shines out of the book, amid the low cunning and tireless legwork, is Hersh’s warmth and humanity. This book is essential reading for every journalist and aspiring journalist the world over.” —John le Carré
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author and preeminent investigative journalist of our time—a heartfelt, hugely revealing memoir of a decades-long career breaking some of the most impactful stories of the last half-century, from Washington to Vietnam to the Middle East.
Seymour Hersh’s fearless reporting has earned him fame, front-page bylines in virtually every major newspaper in the free world, honors galore, and no small amount of controversy. Now in this memoir he describes what drove him and how he worked as an independent outsider, even at the nation’s most prestigious publications. He tells the stories behind the stories—riveting in their own right—as he chases leads, cultivates sources, and grapples with the weight of what he uncovers, daring to challenge official narratives handed down from the powers that be. In telling these stories, Hersh divulges previously unreported information about some of his biggest scoops, including the My Lai massacre and the horrors at Abu Ghraib. There are also illuminating recollections of some of the giants of American politics and journalism: Ben Bradlee, A. M. Rosenthal, David Remnick, and Henry Kissinger among them. This is essential reading on the power of the printed word at a time when good journalism is under fire as never before.
Appetite – $29.95
The beloved author Peter Mayle, champion of all things Provence, here in a final volume of all-new writing, offers vivid recollections from his twenty-five years in the South of France: lessons learned, culinary delights enjoyed, and changes observed.
Twenty-five years ago, Peter Mayle and his wife, Jennie, were rained out of a planned two weeks on the Côte d’Azur. In search of sunlight, they set off for Aix-en-Provence; enchanted by the world and life they found there, they soon decided to uproot their lives in England and settle in Provence. They have never looked back. As Mayle tells us, a cup of café might now cost three euros–but that price still buys you a front-row seat to the charming and indelible parade of village life. After the coffee, you might drive to see a lavender field that has bloomed every year for centuries, or stroll through the ancient history that coexists alongside Marseille’s metropolitan bustle. Modern life may have seeped into sleepy Provence, but its magic remains.
With his signature warmth, wit, and humor–and twenty-five years of experience–Peter Mayle is a one-of-a-kind guide to the continuing appeal of Provence. This thoughtful, vivid exploration of life well-lived, à la Provence, will charm longtime fans and a new generation of readers alike.
McGill-Queens – $39.95
In this unique and exhilarating autobiography, Allan Jones – Canada’s first blind diplomat – vividly describes how an untreatable eye disease slowly decimated his visual world, most challengingly during his postings in Tokyo and New Delhi, and how he discovered and took to heart the revelatory Indian philosophy that changed his life. Advaita Vedanta, the most iconoclastic and liberating of the classical Indian philosophies, profoundly altered the author’s experience of self and world. He found that the true self, as distinct from the individual ego, far exceeds the boundaries of individuality. It lies beneath sightedness or blindness and is absolutely unaffected by the latter. This welcome shift of perspective was reinforced by startling discoveries in contemporary physics, evolutionary biology, and developmental psychology that are fully consistent with Advaitic metaphysics. As for the practical applications of metaphysics, this book demonstrates step by step how Advaitic insight and practice significantly reduce physical and psychological tension. The most telling examples have to do with adjustments compelled by extreme circumstances. Thus Jones describes how he drew upon Advaitic mindfulness techniques to maintain his white cane mobility skills in the teeth of permanent spinal, nerve, and muscle pain. The arc of Beyond Vision moves from the claustrophobically personal to the openness of the transpersonal. It begins in a dysfunctional family background, breaking out into a full life encompassing an adventurous foreign service career, spiritual exploration, and an unconventional kind of marital love.