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August Is Women In Translation Month: A Book List

Welcome to August –– or as it's designated in my bullet journal, #WITMonth! Women In Translation Month is a relatively new term, started in 2014 by translator Meytal Radzinski to share the fairly dismal statistics around the percentage of female-authored books translated into English (read a great interview with her here).

Little Beast Cover Image
By Julie DeMers, Rhonda Mullins (Translator)
ISBN: 9781552453667
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Coach House Books - May 22nd, 2018

Little Beast is a singular, beautiful novella; its protagonist, a girl who is hidden away by her family. She knows she is different. Her parents argue about her monstrosity. When it seems the villagers have found her out, she escapes and makes her way into the forest. This book is a fairytale, but one turned on its head in order to question agency, groupthink, and forced normalcy of female bodies.

Pretty Things Cover Image
By Virginie Despentes, Emma Ramadan (Translator)
ISBN: 9781936932276
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Feminist Press - August 14th, 2018

I'm thrilled to see the English release of another Despentes book! Emma Ramadan has done so many amazing translations, and this one is no different. When one Paris twin, on the verge of musical stardom, commits suicide, the other must take her place in the world. Now alone, she takes on the role of a sexual icon, but all the while questioning what a woman is, and how she should act, to the public. Pretty Things is gritty and angry and all the things I wanted from an early-2000's feminist novel. 

Ms Ice Sandwich (Japanese Novellas #4) Cover Image
By Mieko Kawakami, Louise Heal Kawai (Translated by)
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9781782273301
Availability: OUT OF PRINT - Not Available for Order
Published: Pushkin Press - January 23rd, 2018

Sometimes novellas take the opportunity to grapple with huge cultural ideas, and sometimes they are just marvelous vignettes of one little life. This book is the latter. This little nugget concerns a boy's first love: the woman making sandwiches behind the counter at his local grocery store. It's funny, it's precious, and it's thoughtful. The Pushkin Japanese Novellas series can't seem to do wrong, so check out the rest of them, too. 

The Iliac Crest Cover Image
By Cristina Rivera Garza, Sarah Booker (Translator), Elena Poniatowska (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781558614352
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Feminist Press - October 10th, 2017

I hope you didn't miss Cristina Rivera Garza's 2017 visit to Brazos for THE ILIAC CREST's release! If you did, fear not –– this strange, dark tale is still on our shelves and continues to be a staff favorite. One stormy night, two strangers invade a man's home and harass him endlessly, claiming to know a secret –– that he isn't a man at all, but in fact, a woman. THE ILIAC CREST is timely and ferocious. Plus, Garza is a Houstonian! We host her again on October 1st for the release of her STUPENDOUS next book, THE TAIGA SYNDROME. Be there.

Poso Wells Cover Image
By Gabriela Alemán, Dick Cluster (Translator)
ISBN: 9780872867550
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: City Lights Books - August 21st, 2018

This book has had my heart for months. In a thrilling political noir, a corrupt group of politicians, led by a suave political candidate, suddenly go ablaze when the electricity shorts out. Meanwhile, the real social struggles of the area are able to come to light, thanks to a journalist and a dogged local woman: that women have been disappearing from the Poso Wells settlement without notice, and that the area's forest reserves are being plundered by a mysterious magnate. Alemán rounds up ecoterrorism, corruption, political action, journalism, and a hefty dose of humor in this slim book. POSO WELLS is NOT to be missed. 

There are a few more books I simply have to mention that haven't come out yet, but that are already on my list of top books for the year.

Keep an eye out for AFTER THE WINTER, a gorgeous novel by Guadalupe Nettel that seems to exceed every standard for fiction. We host Nettel September 18, so if you are in Houston, please mark your calendars!

THE NAKED WOMAN, by Armonia Somers, is coming out from Feminist Press in October. After being published in Ecuador in 1950, critics doubted the gender of its author due to the shocking content. It's a fabulist little fever dream, feminist, biblical, bodily and strange, and definitely worth a look.

THE LONESOME BODYBUILDER is a collection of short stories by Yukiko Motoya, and it's out in November. It already has fabulous reception with the likes of Kenzaburo Oe and Hiromi Kawakami, so, hello. This is a splendid book for fans of the playful, the fabulist, and the alien.

Last but not least, I am shrieking about the release of REVOLUTION SUNDAY, by  Cuban author Wendy Guerra. Her main character, Cloe, explores the ins and outs of poetry, surveillance, and private/public absurdities in 2000s Cuba. Plus, it's been translated by Achy Obejas, a marvelous author in her own right. 

It's Lit: The August Edition

Welcome to the first edition of It's Lit! Keep reading to find the answers to your literary frustrations.


Dear Booksellers, 

I read a lot, but I always have a hard time deciding what's next on the book list. How do you decide what to read!?


Vexed by Variety

Dear Vexed,

Scottish Lumberjills, Tablet Candy, Sophomore Novels, and Other Adventures: A Q&A with Author Caroline Leech

It’s always a pleasure when Houston YA author Caroline Leech drops by. She’s amazingly talented. She’s got this delightful Scottish accent. Her Scotland-set historical novels are engaging, fun, romantic and lush with details that make you feel like you’re wandering the Highlands. Also she says things like “Putting tablet in your coffee is like putting gravy on haggis” and who doesn’t adore someone who can come up with a sentence like that?

Writing A Novel about the Spectrum of Belief: Thu Interviews Author R.O. Kwon

The Incendiaries travels between Phoebe, a piano prodigy who grieves and blames herself for her mother’s death; Will, a young man studying to become a priest until he loses his faith and drops out of the seminary; and John Leal, a mysterious and enigmatic man with ties to North Korea; all of whom meet at Edwards University. Deeply troubled and searching for a purpose beyond themselves, the three become swept up in a chain of dangerous acts, fanning the flames towards destruction and an irreparable tragedy. I cannot recommend it enough for a suspenseful and alluring read!

The Incendiaries: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735213890
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Riverhead Books - July 31st, 2018

Ask A Bookseller: Brazos Bookstore Edition

Got a burning question about 1980’s Croatian literature? Need advice regarding a friend who just doesn’t GET Shakespeare like you do? In the vein of Dear Abby, we’ve decided to open our mailbox to questions from our beloved customers.

Though you may remain anonymous, questions and answers will be shared in our weekly newsletter and on our website by our crack team of bookish experts.

It's lit!

Kid Lit Represents!

One thing that both Laura and I are always keenly aware of when buying and merchandising for and in the Kids’ Room and YA section is making sure that we represent the diversity of our world as widely as possible. In kidlit we are fond of saying that books should be both mirrors and windows, and we take this idea very seriously here. Of course this philosophy holds true for all books, but we’re particularly focused on it for children’s books.

Thu and Katie Talk Graphic Novels

It's no secret that we love graphic novels at Brazos. Thu and Katie have chosen a few favorites, so take a look below. Whether they display a timely political struggle or the everlasting communal struggle of just growing up and being yourself, these books combine fantastic illustration work with interesting plot and beautiful text. What more could you want?


All Summer Long (Eagle Rock Series) Cover Image
By Hope Larson, Hope Larson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780374304850
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 1st, 2018

I was totally struck by Hope Larson's All Summer Long after I picked it up as a quick time-passing read. It's about two inseparable best friends entering that weird and now, totally foreign, stage of pre-teen/teen adolescence. It's the first summer that Bina and her best friend Austin are spending their summer apart and Austin is throwing some real shade. Maybe he think he's hot shit now? Puberty? Trifling? Who knows. But that doesn't make Bina feel less confused or awkward. Overall, it's a wonderful story about friendship, identity, and growing up.

Spinning Cover Image
By Tillie Walden, Tillie Walden (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781626729407
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: First Second - September 12th, 2017

I had the honor to accompany the talented, effervescent, and wise Tillie Walden last year at local area high schools for her graphic memoir, Spinning. Hearing her speak to a younger audience about her experience of moving to Texas, the world of competitive figure skating, and growing into her queer identity, along with seeing her beautiful art, made me so hopeful. It also made me wonder what I could do to reach out and be a more understanding human. Spinning is a deep and powerful reflection of all these things, and the tone reminds me of contemporary Japanese writing that is constantly searching in a sea of subtleness. Another thing to add, we will be hosting Tillie Walden on 10/3 for her upcoming graphic novel On a Sunbeam!

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir Cover Image
By Thi Bui
ISBN: 9781419718786
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Abrams ComicArts - April 17th, 2018

As a child and younger sibling to Vietnamese refugees, my parents escaped with two children by foot through the jungles in Laos, spent time in a refugee camp, and were sponsored all together by, as my mom says, "the most wonderful and generous woman" here in Houston who taught her how to sew, open a shop, and even co-signed their first home. My parents have never gone into any detail about their journey besides a few stories here and there, so I've always searched for writing that might help me piece together and give me a better understanding about how their lives were shaped. The Best We Could Do is a beautiful and intense portrayal about her family's journey, and while I have a personal interest, I think it portrays many terrifying and discomforting things about the refugee/immigrant experience and what happens to our humanity. And what is terrifying isn't necessarily the story, but that it's true and happening to others presently.

Sanpaku Cover Image
ISBN: 9781684152100
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Archaia - August 21st, 2018

Native Houstonian and cartoonist Kate Gavino's forthcoming (publishing date 7/21) graphic novel Sanpaku is one that I am extremely excited about. Sanpaku is a coming-of-age story about a Filipino-American girl that is growing up in Houston. First of all, if it's set in Houston, I'll give it a shot. This is the Houston I grew up in with Asian markets, a blinding devotion to Selena, and many contradictions. Overall, this is a smart, charming, and heartwarming story and, like a baby seeing everything for the first time, the main character of this story Marcine, rationalizes new emotions and feelings for the first time, and that's all a part of growing up. We are hosting Kate Gavino on 8/25 for Sanpaku so please come out for this special event!


Blankets Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770462182
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - October 13th, 2015

A perfect introduction to the genre of Graphic Novels. Blankets is a biography of the artist as a teenager growing up in a religious home in Wisconsin and his first love. The setting of a chilly dead winter creates an opposing backdrop for young blossoming love, coming-of-age, and the joys (and pains) of life and growing up. A deep and often times hilarious graphic novel with some of the most enchanting illustrations.

Frida Kahlo: The Story of Her Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9783791383880
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Prestel - November 7th, 2017

My favorite artist! The famous Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo’s life is told in beautiful full color illustrations. Via a conversation between Frida and Death through the re-telling of her life, we get insight into not only Frida’s artwork, but also her personal life and the pain that lead her to become one of the most famous artists of all time. There are glimpses into her tumultuous marriage to the artist Diego Rivera, as well as her bisexuality, which is overlooked in most biographies. You will go back just to look at this gorgeous novel’s illustrations!

Staff Pick Badge
This One Summer Cover Image
By Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator), Mariko Tamaki
ISBN: 9781596437746
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: First Second - May 6th, 2014

A perfect summer read! We follow Rose and her friend Windy, two girls spending a typical summer swimming, playing games and going to the movies. While Rose is trying to hold onto the child she still is, she is forced to begin dealing with adult issues and enter into her teenage years. A beautiful and often times heart-wrenching story of two friends’ final summer as young girls.

Not-So-Young Adults: An Argument for YA at Any Age

It’s a question that has followed me ever since I started working in bookstores: Why don’t more adults read Young Adult Novels? Anyone who’s come in to the store and talked to me knows I love YA books. They defy genre. They can be sci-fi, literary, fantastical. And I know there are stories that many of our customers would absolutely adore. Are you interested in other cultures and race relations? I can name about five books right now that delve into these topics. What about prose that you have to re-read because it's just that beautiful?

Staff Chat: Thea Lim's AN OCEAN OF MINUTES

Thu: We are here to talk about Thea Lim’s new novel! Thea Lim is a fiction author who got her MFA the Creative Writing Program at UH. We’re here to talk about her debut novel, AN OCEAN OF MINUTES, which comes out today! We have an event for her on Friday the 13th of July.

Sara: Oooh, spooky!