February’s gone with the wind, but with it comes the promise of Springtime and a bevy of new releases sure to put some pep in your step. This month brings us a plethora of scintillating new titles from debut authors, the hatching of a bookseller favorite, and an exciting announcement that cements Austin’s place as a literary powerhouse. Check it out below!
Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth
It’s finally heeeeeeere! Deb Olin Unferth’s hotly-anticipated new title and bookseller favorite is here!
Deb Olin Unferth’s wildly inventive but utterly plausible novel is a heist story of a very unusual sort. Swirling with a rich array of voices, Barn 8 takes readers into the minds of these renegades: a farmer’s daughter, a former director of undercover investigations, hundreds of activists, a forest ranger who suddenly comes upon forty thousand hens, and a security guard who is left on an empty farm for years. There are glimpses twenty thousand years into the future to see what chickens might evolve into on our contaminated planet. We hear what hens think happens when they die. In the end the cracked hearts of these indelible characters, their earnest efforts to heal themselves, and their radical actions will lead them to ruin or revelation.
Funny, whimsical, philosophical, and heartbreaking, Barn 8 ultimately asks: What constitutes meaningful action in a world so in need of change? Unferth comes at this question with striking ingenuity, razor-sharp wit, and ferocious passion. Barn 8 is a rare comic-political drama that has us absolutely smitten! Our staff describes it as “a great heist…with wild ambition,” (Molly) “highly original,” (Robyn) and “the only hope we have left!” (Uriel)
The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward
Have you heard? Amanda Eyre Ward’s latest is the March 2020 pick for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club! That’s three Austin authors that have been selected for this highly popular book club (we see you, Chandler Baker and Lara Prescott!) and we’re thinking Austin may just be the new Mecca of all things great and literary?
While you’re chewing on that bit of info, let’s get back to the book details:
The Jetsetters follows seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins who submits a sexy essay to the “Become a Jetsetter” contest, a contest that she believes will be her avenue to reunite her estranged children: Lee, Cord, and Regan. Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young and she was a single mother who meant everything to them.
When she wins the cruise, the family packs all their baggage—literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from sun-drenched Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso. As lovers new and old join the adventure, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the Perkins family is forced to confront the defining choices in their lives. Can four lost adults find the peace they’ve been seeking by reconciling their childhood aches and coming back to each other? With The Jetsetters, Ward has created a delicious and intelligent novel about the courage it takes to reveal our true selves, the pleasures and perils of family, and how we navigate the seas of adulthood to cruise toward joy.
Be sure to catch Amanda Eyre Ward at BookPeople on April 30th at 7PM where she’ll read from and sign her much-lauded new book! We’ll see you there!
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
The latest from National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich is an extraordinary novel based on the life of her grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C.
At the heart of this story is Thomas Wazhushk — the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant and Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new “emancipation” bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress — and Pixie Paranteau — the strong-headed class valedictorian with no desire to wear herself down who’s on a mission to find her beloved sister, Vera, believed by Pixie to be missing.
Thomas and Patrice live in this impoverished reservation community along with young Chippewa boxer Wood Mountain and his mother Juggie Blue, her niece and Pixie’s best friend Valentine, and Stack Barnes, the white high school math teacher and boxing coach who is hopelessly in love with Patrice.
In the Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich creates a fictional world populated with memorable characters who are forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure.
Reserve your copy today and you can received a special edition of The Night Watchman featuring an exclusive letter from Erdrich to readers!
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with an unforgettable portrait of an artist as a young woman.
Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.
Writers & Lovers follows Casey—a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist—in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
A new book from National Book Award-winning author, James McBride, is always a cause for celebration, and in Deacon King Kong, he delivers a wise and witty tale about what happens to the witnesses of a sudden shooting.
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.
The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.
As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters—caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York—overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.
Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel with tremendous insight and wit, demonstrating that love and faith live in all of us.
Order now and you’ll have a shot at a pristine, signed first edition of Deacon King Kong!
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Acclaimed novelist Quan Barry delivers a tour de female force in this delightful novel. Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations began that led to the 1692 witch trials, We Ride Upon Sticks follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team, who will do anything to make it to the state finals—even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. In chapters dense with 1980s iconography, Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.
Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship.
An early fan of this unforgettable novel was bookseller Robyn. She calls We Ride Upon Sticks, “a Heathers-like journey that will leave you feeling invested in the fate of a notebook infused with dark magic…there’s also the added bonus of being constantly reminded of 80s jams that you had forgotten about.” Bring out the retro scrunchies, and, like, order this book now!
This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples
This Town Sleeps is an exciting, new title out today and we were absolutely delighted to discover one of our booksellers, Christine H., had an early blurb of it featured in the March Indie Next newsletter. Check out what she had to say!
“This Town Sleeps, set on an Ojibwe reservation in northern Minnesota, is not an elegiac or idyllic work but rather a direct, unblinking, poetic novel that draws the reader inexorably into the gray areas of the hearts of those in this story. A queer coming-of-age story bound up in a town mystery, this tale of Marion Lafournier, a young gay Ojibwe man, is a compelling debut. Dennis E. Staples is an author whose voice and storytelling will be appreciated in so many ways for years to come.”
Get this title in your hands today!
The Body Double by Emily Beyda
In this dark, glittering debut novel by Emily Beyda, a strange man recruits a young woman for an odd and lucrative position: she must forget her job, her acquaintances, even her name, and move to Los Angeles, where she will become the body double of the famous and troubled celebrity Rosanna Feld.
A nervous breakdown has forced Rosanna out of the public eye, and she needs a look-alike to take her place in the tabloid media circus of Hollywood. Overseen by Max, who hired her for the job, our narrator spends her days locked up in a small apartment in the hills watching hidden camera footage of Rosanna, wearing Rosanna’s clothes, eating the food Rosanna likes, practicing her mannerisms, learning to become Rosanna in every way. But as she makes her public debut as Rosanna, dining at elegant restaurants, shopping in stylish boutiques, and finally risking a dinner party with Rosanna’s true inner circle, alarming questions begin to arise. What really caused Rosanna’s mental collapse? Will she ever return? And is Max truly her ally, or something more sinister? With echoes of Hitchcock’s Vertigo,The Body Double is a fabulously plotted noir about fame, beauty, and the darkness of Hollywood.
Learn more when Emily Beyda comes to BookPeople to discuss The Body Double alongside Jessi Cape of the Austin Chronicle on March 6th at 7PM!
City of Margins by William Boyle
Get a taste of William Boyle’s City of Margins with this review from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery. Portions of this review originally appeared on the MysteryPeople blog.
“Anybody around me for the last twelve months heard me rave about William Boyle’s A Friend Is A Gift You Give Yourself. The mix of crime fiction and dramedy was a fresh breeze blowing into the genre. The book created some slight trepidation when I cracked open his latest, City Of Margins. I expected a strong piece of writing, but feared it would come off lesser in comparison. Those doubts vanished by the first chapter.
Boyle uses a full author’s pallet to tell this story. Where Gravesend always carried a somber tone, Boyle goes deeper into his into his characters and the reactions to their situations. He discovers they each contain different feelings in combat with each other. Instead of relying on quirks, like lesser writers, Boyle knows these people so well he is able to play off their experiences and degrees of desperation to make each of them stand out. with pathos, humor, and the overhanging threat of violence, he ties the community together and depicts its inertia.
Boyle makes City Of Margins a gritty crime version of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show. It looks at two different generations struggling with the despair their lives have trapped them in and the missteps and moves they make to break free, William Boyle brings them to life in all their sad, funny, brutal glory.”
Shop this book with us today in-store or online today!
So many books, so little time, we know. Shop your favs from this week in-store and online today and keep checking back with us here for the best new releases every week!