From wooly mammoths to headless chickens, Pasarello's second collection of essays chronciles some of the most famous, revealing and odd animal/human interractions in history. She muses over our broken connection with the natural world, exposes our exploitation and cruelty towards animal life, and marvels at the latent wonders of spiders and horses alike. But it is Pasarello's inimitable voice, always inventive and playful, that is the real attraction here. Who else would explore the history of natural science from the perspective of a lovelorn tortoise? Hilarious and quirky without being fluff, critical and unflinching without being didactic, there is no one writing nonfiction like Elena Pasarello.
Sarah Manguso is a master of the minimalist form. She can do more with a sentence than many authors can do with an entire book. In this collection of brief ruminations, she covers everything from sex and mortality, to ambition, mental illness, writing, desire, and motherhood. These "arguments" are aphoristic gems, in which a seemingly random thought is hardened into a bold, cutting, crystalline truth. There is no exposition. Manguso lets these minute statements stand on their own, and the reader is left with nowhere to hide from direct engagement with a most remarkable literary mind.
Were you one of the hundred-plus Brazos customers who bought SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS in 2016? Has your perception of the natural world been changed as much as mine? Do you want to know more? Actually published first in Italy, Carlo Rovelli's REALITY IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS expands on all the astounding, groundbreaking theories and discoveries he touched on in SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS. Including a history of physics from ancient times to the cutting edge of now, REALITY... is a poetic ode to science and the seekers who've sought against all odds to increase our understanding of the universe and our place in it.
Man Booker International-winning author of THE VEGETARIAN, Han Kang, returns with another unnerving tale. While HUMAN ACTS is no less nightmarish than her English-language debut, this time Kang turns her profound literary skills outward, toward a shocking account of a national tragedy little known outside her native Korea--the 1980 Gwangju "uprising," which saw military police massacre hundreds of unionized workers and students organizing for democractic rights. Narrated by protestors, tortured prisoners, their family members, even ghosts and Kang herself, HUMAN ACTS is an unforgettable, polyvocal whirlwind reading experience that explores the nature of oppression and resistance, and the psychological toll of immense violence.
When you grow up rough like I did, when violence and scrapes with the law are common occurrences, this book means only one thing--hope. The bestselling young reader novel of all-time gets the deluxe hardcover treatment for its 50th anniversary. And it is beautiful. THE OUTSIDERS is the quintessential story of troubled youth. For every kid who has ever been picked on, pushed aside (or down) by the authority figures who are supposed to protect you, or if you just never fit in with the suburban norm, this is your book. It is a flare into the night sky for lost boys. A glorious ode to the misfits among us, the importance of staying true to yourself, and a love letter to the friends who become our chosen families. Few books have ever meant as much to me as THE OUTSIDERS, and, if you ever need it, I hope it can help you as much as it has helped me. Stay gold.
Melanie Finn's THE GLOAMING is a haunting, relentless exploration of guilt and obsession disguised as a taut psychological thriller. Finding herself ostracized, threatened and slowly losing her grip on reality after a horrible accident, Pilgrim Jones inexplicably flees to Tanzania, where she embarks on a morbid journey of self-discovery. Along the way, she encounters myriad odd and memorable characters, including disillusioned doctors, Ukranian mercenaries, mild-mannered shamans, and vengeful Good Samaritans. Like a combination of PLAY IT AS IT LAYS and HEART OF DARKNESS, THE GLOAMING takes the reader into the most desolate regions of human nature and the darkest realms of the psyche. It is a tale of fear, shame, hope, and perhaps the lingering possibility for redemption.
This behemoth of a book is the debut novel from the greatest living graphic novelist— Alan Moore, of WATCHMEN and V FOR VENDETTA fame. An unwieldly, sprawling opus that seeks to encompass literally everything in a world adjacent to yet not quite our own, JERUSALEM is undoubtedly the most ambitious and imaginative book to come out this year. However, this is not a fantasy novel. It is more a dark mirror of our times overlayed onto the small English town in which Moore has lived his entire life. For any reader unintimidated by its literary (and literal) heft, JERUSALEM promises nothing less than an epic feat of world-building and a philosophical feast in which to completely lose yourself.
The most literary book on bodybuilding and superbike racing you will ever read! Giraldi steps away from fiction to craft this contemplative coming-of-age memoir that is also an elegy for his lost father and an incisive critique of masculinity. A heartfelt take on family, loss and what it means to be a man.
A tremendously imaginative historical novel from one of America's best young authors. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD is an escaped slave narrative that doubles as a true American epic, the continuing origin story of Africans in America. The major conceit, though, that sets this work apart--a surprisingly obvious twist that allows this novel to transcend and become something else entirely--is that the titular network of slave emancipation, is a literal railroad. Sounds simple, but it is in fact a profound literary device. And, interestingly, as a literal railroad, Whitehead is able to use the UGRR as a much more powerful metaphor for the black American odyssey. The story centers around Cora, a resourceful and determined runaway slave and all the people, both righteous and wicked, whom she encounters on her misadventures toward the North. Despite the fantastical UGRR, the rest of Whitehead's portrayal of Southern slavery is unvarnished, graphically violent that works as a critique of contemporary race relations as well as an indictment of the duplicitous "American imperative" that has allowed for slavery, brutality and genocide in the name of freedom, progress and purity throughout our country's history. This is a perfectly paced, cut-gem of a novel. Nothing is out of place. There are echoes of everything from GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, to INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL, to THE LOTTERY, and more that only serve to heighten the near-mythic quality of this work of fiction. It's astounding how good this book is. I can't say enough about it. So far, the best novel of 2016 that I've read.
A teenaged genius misanthrope searches for her place in the world and finds it in destruction. Lucia Stanton is a Huck Finn or Holden Caulfield kind of character--wise beyond her years, acerbic, funny, always getting into trouble. When a family tragedy makes her an orphan, she finds acceptance in her high school's secret Arson Club. But what will happen when she finds a worthy target for her wrath? And how will she choose it? In propulsive, stylized prose, Jesse Ball depicts adolescent alienation as a form of bold social criticism and raises complex moral questions in the process. I could see this novel becoming a cult classic--being passed among precocious high schoolers reading beyond their years and fed up with ineffectual system around them--for a long time to come. A great read full of anger, smarts, heart, and yes...fire.
This debut novel from an amazingly talented young author out of Ghana, follows two branches of an African/African-American family spanning seven generations and almost 300 years. Told in direct, unflinching prose, Homegoing is a marvel of historical fiction, a breathtakingly ambitious saga, and a socially important novel. Each character is wholly and vibrantly alive. Gyasi conveys inhumanity, suffering, sorrow, love, resilience, and triumph with equal force. Her nuanced look at the history of the slave trade and its legacy on both sides of the Atlantic is absolutely stunning. This is one of the more impressive debuts I've ever read.
From the Chilean mad genius whose creativity knows no bounds--film, art, literature, music, comics--comes a fantastical, philosophical and utterly strange new novel. An albino giantess and her surly protector embark on a search for home that includes endlessly fornicating werewolves, a friendly dwarf, transformations of the body and soul, the return of the Incan Empire, and even the meaning of life. By turns obscene, profane, hilarious, incredibly violent, reverent, and profound, ALBINA is mind-bending and tons of fun! Surreal isn't quite the right world, and it's less magical realism than a depiction of realistic magic. Take the trip!
Contemporary Renaissance man and two-time National Book Award winner James McBride gives us another astonishing work--this time, a searching, heartfelt and honest biography of the great James Brown. KILL 'EM AND LEAVE is an immersive work of nonfiction, equal parts personal memoir of a fan, cultural critique of race in America, and a reassessment/reclamation of the Godfather of Soul as both a man and an artist. McBride performs a literary autopsy on Brown's legacy, cutting through the myth and legend surrounding JB in order to find the real man, flaws and all. It is easily the most enlightening study of an enigmatic and profoundly influential American icon.
BLACKASS is a satirical re-imagining of Kafka’s THE METAMORPHOSIS set in the chaotic crush of contemporary Lagos, Nigeria. A young, unemployed man wakes one day to find himself inexplicably turned white. Now, suddenly an outsider in a city of 13 million people, he is forced to forge a new life for himself. A deft exploration of the effects of postcolonialism and the psychological perception of whiteness, this debut novel is as insightful as it is outlandish.
A top-notch collection of psychological horror in the vein of Poe, Shirley Jackson, and THE TWILIGHT ZONE! A "writer's writer" finally getting his due, Evenson excels in exploiting the innate suspense of the unknown in this set of mind-blowing and unnerving short stories. It'll make you want to sleep with the lights on. Great stuff!
A terrifying vision of madness and obsession from a South Korean author poised to make huge waves in English translation. After a disturbing nightmare, Yeong-hye swears off eating meat and sets off a chain reaction that spirals outward from her and draws into question the very notions of identity and relationships. Exuding creeping psychological dread and a dark eroticism, THE VEGETARIAN will get under your skin and stay there.
Enter the dark, twisted world of one of Japan's most renowned young authors, his prize-winning debut translated into English for the first time. When a disillusioned student stumbles upon a dead body one rainy night, he cannot resist taking the gun it its hand. Thus begins a descent into obsession and an irresistable desire to see what happens when it's fired. A disturbingly timely literary noir.
An indescribably maniacal tale from a blistering new talent out of the Republic of the Congo. Like a postcolonial TROPIC OF CANCER or a free jazz riff on NAKED LUNCH, Fiston Mwanza Mujila portrays a wasteland society drowning in its own greed and perversity. And at the heart of it all: the monolithic nightclub, TRAM 83. Filled with poetry, debauchery, corruption, and lamentations for love sacrificed on the altar of lust, this is an intense, acrobatic feat of prose unlike anything to come before it in either African, French or indeed all of literature. Simply tremendous.
In this multifaceted memoir, long-time writer for THE NEW YORKER William Finnegan muses over his life’s obsession: surfing. But this is no trite “dude-brah” recollection of lazy days spent getting high and chasing girls (although both of those things do happen over the course of the nearly five decades recounted here). Instead, through Finnegan’s observant eye and inquisitive soul, we are privy to an epic quest that is equal parts globetrotting anthropological study, rapturous communion with nature, coming-of-age tale, and ode to the motley cast of fellow searchers who’ve shared Finnegan’s obsession throughout the years. Filled with some of the most gorgeous descriptions of natural beauty I’ve ever read and insightful ruminations on what it means to truly live the life you love, BARBARIAN DAYS is a trip you definitely want to take!
Kathleen Collins was a genius who died way before her time. An author, playwright, filmmaker, educator, activist –– she did it all. This, her only extant collection of fiction, is a testament to the power of her creativity and intellect. These stories – formally inventive – take to task the troubled domain of race, gender, and class in 20th century America, ultimately producing works of art that absolutely shimmer with beauty emotion. We are all worse off for the loss of her.