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Fiction - December 2018
Insurrecto by Gina Apostol
Histories and personalities collide in this literary tour-de-force about the Philippines’ present and America’s past by the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter.
Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War. Chiara is working on a film about an incident in Balangiga, Samar, in 1901, when Filipino revolutionaries attacked an American garrison, and in retaliation American soldiers created “a howling wilderness” of the surrounding countryside. Magsalin reads Chiara’s film script and writes her own version. Insurrecto contains within its dramatic action two rival scripts from the filmmaker and the translator—one about a white photographer, the other about a Filipino schoolteacher.
Within the spiraling voices and narrative layers of Insurrecto are stories of women—artists, lovers, revolutionaries, daughters—finding their way to their own truths and histories. Using interlocking voices and a kaleidoscopic structure, the novel is startlingly innovative, meditative, and playful. Insurrecto masterfully questions and twists narrative in the manner of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch, and Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Apostol pushes up against the limits of fiction in order to recover the atrocity in Balangiga, and in so doing, she shows us the dark heart of an untold and forgotten war that would shape the next century of Philippine and American history.
Young Adult - December 2018
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
Art & Photography - December 2018
Ryan McGinley: Mirror Mirror by Ryan McGinley
Ryan McGinley, since the earliest days of his unparalleled career, has chronicled his friends and cohorts. Whether on the now legendary annual road trips he has organized with a large coterie of twentysomethings documenting summertime exploits or documenting the early gritty years in downtown New York, McGinley is known as the consummate storyteller about freedom and abandon of youth. A few years ago, however, he wanted to challenge his creative habits and asked more than one hundred of his friends and colleagues--guided by detailed instructions and a camera given to them by the artist--to take nude self-portraits using mirrors and other props. Though related to the ubiquitous selfie, the participants didn't have the benefit of seeing the image before they clicked the shutter. Furthermore, McGinley would make the selection of the final image to represent the photo session. The experiment yielded scores of intimate and psychologically revealing photos that--even though not done by his own hand--bear some signature McGinley flourishes in their emotional depth and resonance.
Political Nonfiction - December 2018
The Souls of Yellow Folk by Wesley Yang
Inspired by The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois’s classic collection of essays on race and American society, Wesley Yang’s debut book marks a fresh contribution to the conversation about race in America today. Yang’s essays are an eclectic mix of reporting, sociology, and personal history, and The Souls of Yellow Folk collects thirteen of his best. These include his New York cover story “Paper Tigers,” on Asian values and the American Dream; his New York Times Magazine portrait of chef and author Eddie Huang; his n+1 dispatch “The Face of Seung- Hui Cho,” who was then the largest mass murderer in U.S. history; and his provocative essays on white supremacy. Written with freewheeling candor, The Souls of Yellow Folk deftly examines a new cohort of men who have emerged in our time—embattled, haunted, and out on a limb.
Feminist Literature - December 2018
Bringing Down the Colonel by Patricia Miller
In Bringing Down the Colonel, the journalist Patricia Miller tells the story of Madeline Pollard, an unlikely nineteenth-century women’s rights crusader. After an affair with a prominent politician left her “ruined,” Pollard brought the man?and the hypocrisy of America’s control of women’s sexuality?to trial. And, surprisingly, she won.
Pollard and the married Colonel Breckinridge began their decade-long affair when she was just a teenager. After the death of his wife, Breckinridge asked for Pollard’s hand?and then broke off the engagement to marry another woman. But Pollard struck back, suing Breckinridge for breach of promise in a shockingly public trial. With premarital sex considered irredeemably ruinous for a woman, Pollard was asserting the unthinkable: that the sexual morality of men and women should be judged equally.
Nearly 125 years after the Breckinridge-Pollard scandal, America is still obsessed with women’s sexual morality. And in the age of Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein, we’ve witnessed fraught public reckonings with a type of sexual exploitation unnervingly similar to that experienced by Pollard. Using newspaper articles, personal journals, previously unpublished autobiographies, and letters, Bringing Down the Colonel tells the story of one of the earliest women to publicly fight back.
Mystery & Suspense - December 2018
The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem
Phoebe Siegler first meets Charles Heist in a shabby trailer on the eastern edge of Los Angeles. She’s looking for her friend’s missing daughter, Arabella, and hires Heist to help. A laconic loner who keeps his pet opossum in a desk drawer, Heist intrigues the sarcastic and garrulous Phoebe. Reluctantly, he agrees to help. The unlikely pair navigate the enclaves of desert-dwelling vagabonds and find that Arabella is in serious trouble—caught in the middle of a violent standoff that only Heist, mysteriously, can end. Phoebe’s trip to the desert was always going to be strange, but it was never supposed to be dangerous...
Jonathan Lethem’s first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn, The Feral Detective is a singular achievement by one of our greatest writers.
Sci-Fi & Fantasy - December 2018
How Long 'Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin is one of the most powerful and acclaimed speculative fiction authors of our time. In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.
Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.
Little Readers - December 2018
Harold Loves His Wooly Hat by Vern Kousky
In this sweet picture book that celebrates selflessness and the joy of helping others, a little bear named Harold loses his beloved woolly hat–only to discover that others need it more.
What makes a bear special? For Harold, it is his beloved striped woolly hat. He wears it when he sleeps, when he goes to school, and even when he takes his monthly bath. But when a crow whisks the hat off his head and high up into a nest, Harold doesn’t feel so special anymore. He tries everything to get it back–offering the crow blueberries, worms, and even shiny objects–but alas, the crow will not budge. Turns out that the hat has a new special purpose: keeping three baby crows warm. This heartwarming picture book features an irresistible bear and gently reinforces the notion that it doesn’t matter what you have, it’s who you are that matters.
Timeless Favorites - December 2018
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
A stimulating exploration of wandering, being lost, and the uses of the unknown from the author of Men Explain Things To Me.
Written as a series of autobiographical essays, A Field Guide to Getting Lost draws on emblematic moments and relationships in Rebecca Solnit’s life to explore issues of uncertainty, trust, loss, memory, desire, and place. Solnit is interested in the stories we use to navigate our way through the world, and the places we traverse, from wilderness to cities, in finding ourselves, or losing ourselves. While deeply personal, her own stories link up to larger stories, from captivity narratives of early Americans to the use of the color blue in Renaissance painting, not to mention encounters with tortoises, monks, punk rockers, mountains, deserts, and the movie Vertigo. The result is a distinctive, stimulating voyage of discovery.