Where’s the time going? March felt like an eternity…April zoomed by…and now May seems to be picking up speed faster than a rollicking thriller. There’s a lot going on, we know, but consider slowing down with a good read. There’s a new Jenny Zhang poetry collection, some art criticism from Crudo author, Olivia Laing, and a number of novels that give you the best kind of escape.
My Baby First Birthday by Jenny Zhang
“To read Jenny Zhang is to embrace primal states: pleasure, hunger, longing and rage.” —TIME
Radiant and tender, My Baby First Birthday is a collection that examines innocence, asking us who gets to be loved and who has to deplete themselves just to survive. Jenny Zhang writes about accepting pain, about the way we fetishize womanhood and motherhood, and reduce women to their violations, traumas, and body parts. She questions the way we feminize and racialize nurturing, and live in service of other people’s dreams. How we idealize birth and being baby, how it’s only in our mothers’ wombs that we’re still considered innocent, blameless, and undamaged, because it’s only then that we don’t have to earn love. Her poems explore the obscenity of patriarchy, whiteness, and capitalism, the violence of rescue and heroism. The magic trick in My Baby First Birthday is that despite all these themes, the book never feels like some jeremiad. Zhang uses friendship as a lyric. She seeks tenderness, radiant beauty, and having love for your mistakes. Through all this, she writes about being alone—really alone, like why-was-I-ever-born alone—and trying, despite everything, to reach out and touch something—skin to skin, animal to animal.
Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing
“One of the finest writers of the new non-fiction” (Harper’s Bazaar) explores the role of art in the tumultuous twenty-first century.
In the age of Trump and Brexit, every crisis is instantly overridden by the next. The turbulent political weather of the twenty- first century generates anxiety and makes it difficult to know how to react. Olivia Laing makes a brilliant, inspiring case for why art matters more than ever, as a force of both resistance and repair. Art, she argues, changes how we see the world. It gives us X-ray vision. It reveals inequalities and offers fertile new ways of living.
Funny Weather brings together a career’s worth of Laing’s writing about art and culture, and their role in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keeffe, interviews Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, writes love letters to David Bowie and Wolfgang Tillmans, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, Funny Weather celebrates art as an antidote to a terrifying political moment.
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.
Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.
Among this year’s incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had. But the House’s strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.
Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless.
One ardent fan of this new release is bookseller, Rachel R. She calls it, “A delightful addition to the growing genre of dark academia…sparse and brutal. Imagine Ninth House written by Palahniuk.” Get in on this Indie Next selection now!
The Last Trial by Scott Turow
Two formidable men collide in this “first-class legal thriller” from New York Times bestselling author Scott Turow: a “brilliant courtroom chess match” about a celebrated criminal defense lawyer and the prosecution of his lifelong friend — a doctor accused of murder (David Baldacci).
Braver Than You Think by Maggie Downs
Newly married and established in her career as an award-winning newspaper journalist, Maggie Downs quits her job, sells her belongings, and embarks on the solo trip of a lifetime: Her mother’s.
As a child, Maggie Downs often doubted that she would ever possess the courage to visit the destinations her mother dreamed of one day seeing. “You are braver than you think,” her mother always insisted. That statement would guide her as, over the course of one year, Downs backpacked through seventeen countries―visiting all the places her mother, struck with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, could not visit herself―encountering some of the world’s most striking locales while confronting the slow loss of her mother. Interweaving travelogue with family memories, Braver Than You Think takes the reader hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, white-water rafting on the Nile, volunteering at a monkey sanctuary in Bolivia, praying at an ashram in India, and fleeing the Arab Spring in Egypt.
By embarking on an international journey, Downs learned to make every moment count―traveling around the globe and home again, losing a parent while discovering the world. Perfect for fans of adventure memoirs like Wild and Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, Braver Than You Think explores grief and loss with tenderness, clarity, and humor, and offers a truly incredible roadmap to coping with the unimaginable.
Quotients by Tracy O’Neill
Two people search for connection in a world of fractured identities and aliases, global finance, big data, intelligence bureaucracies, algorithmic logic, and terror.
Jeremy Jordan and Alexandra Chen hope to make a quiet home together but struggle to find a space safe from their personal secrets. For Jeremy, this means leaving behind his former life as an intelligence operative during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. For Alexandra, a high-powered job in image management for whole countries cannot prepare her for her missing brother’s sudden reappearance.
In a culture of limitless surveillance, Jeremy and Alexandra will go to great lengths to protect what is closest to them. Spanning decades and continents, their saga brings them into contact with a down-and-out online journalist, shadowy security professionals, and jockeying technology experts, each of whom has a different understanding of whether information really protects us, and how we might build a world worth trusting in our paranoid age.
These new releases and more are now available to order online through BookPeople. Be sure to catch up with us next week for a fresh set of new releases — see you then!