June arrived without warning and the summer temperatures are starting to settle in in Austin. As always, we plan on staying cool with hot new titles. This week’s basket of goodies present us with urgent nonfiction titles, new titles by bookseller favorites, and a debut the whole BookPeople team couldn’t get enough of. Read on for more!
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
It’s pub day for Megha Majumdar’s A Burning—the latest selection in BookPeople’s Trust Fall quarterly subscription box! It’s a book we loved early on and are thrilled to finally get it into your hands. Events Coordinator, Uriel, calls it “a compassionate and electrifying literary thriller,” saying “Megha Majumdar has written a novel for now and always.” Get more info on our Trust Fall program here and read up on A Burning below.
For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise—to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies—and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.
Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan’s fall. Lovely—an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humor—has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.
Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. An extraordinary debut.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Bookseller favorite, Brit Bennett, has blessed our shelves, with yet another gorgeous novel! The Vanishing Half is, in Eugenia’s words, “an intimate and deeply moving story of family, racial identity, and love…[it] will pull you into these twins’ histories– their insecurities and desires– and leave you wondering about Desiree and Stella, the way only the best books do, long after you’re finished reading the last page.” More here:
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.
The Deviant’s War by Eric Cervini
In The Deviant’s War, a young Harvard- and Cambridge-trained historian tells he untold story of a revolution for gay rights that began a generation before Stonewall. We’re thrilled to be hosting author Eric Cervini live on Crowdcast tomorrow night (June 3rd, 6:30PM CDT) for a virtual pub week celebration. More details here, and a synopsis below:
In 1957, Frank Kameny, an astronomer working for the US Defense Department in Hawaii, received a summons to report immediately to Washington, D.C. The Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual, and after a series of humiliating interviews, Kameny—like countless gay men and women for before him—was promptly dismissed from his government job. Unlike many others, though, he fought back.
Eric Cervini tells the story of what followed in this pathbreaking history of an early champion of gay liberation. Based on firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents, The Deviant’s War is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads, of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress, of FBI informants, murder, betrayal, sex, love—and ultimately victory.
The Sober Lush by Amanda Eyre Ward & Jardine Libaire
The Sober Lush is, in short, a sober hedonist’s guide to having F-U-N.
In a culture where sipping “rosé all day” is seen as the epitome of relaxation, “grabbing a drink” the only way to network; and meeting at a bar the quintessential “first date,” many of us are left wondering if drinking alcohol really is the only way to cultivate joy and connection in life.
Jardine Libaire and Amanda Eyre Ward wanted to live spontaneous and luxurious lives, to escape the ordinary and enjoy the intoxicating. Their drinking, however, had started to numb them to the present moment instead of unlocking it. Ward was introduced to Libaire when she first got sober. As they became friends, the two women talked about how they yearned to create lives that were Technicolor, beautifully raw, connected, blissed out, and outside the lines…but how? In The Sober Lush, Libaire and Ward provide a road map for living a lush and sensual life without booze. This book offers ideas and instruction for such nonalcoholic joys as:
The allure of “the Vanish,” in which one disappears early from the party without saying goodbye to a soul, to amble home under the stars
The art of creating zero-proof cocktails for all seasons
Having a fantastic first date while completely sober
A primer on setting up your own backyard beehive, and honey tastings
For anyone curious about lowering their alcohol consumption or quitting drinking altogether, or anyone established in sobriety who wants inspiration, this shimmering and sumptuous book will show you how to keep indulging in life even if you stop indulging in alcohol.
Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz
We haven’t yet recovered from all the feelings Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation gave us. And instead, we’re going to lean in even more with Jo & Laurie, Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz’s romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence.
1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!
But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?
If that ain’t enough to reel you in, how about a conversation with Stohl and de la Cruz? Moderate by the Rainbow Rowell?! No joke. You can see them live on Zoom, on Friday, June 5th at 4PM CDT! All you have to do is purchase a copy of Jo & Laurie OR snag the $5 attendance ticket! What are you waiting for??
Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen
A new Masha Gessen book always seems to come when we need it most. Surviving Autocracy is galvanizing analysis of the destruction the Trump administration has waged on our institutions, the cultural norms we hoped would save us, and our very sense of identity—from a bestselling, National Book Award-winning journalist.
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Masha Gessen stood out from other journalists for the ability to convey the ominous significance of Donald Trump’s speech and behavior, unprecedented in a national candidate. Within forty-eight hours of Trump’s victory, the essay “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” had gone viral, and Gessen’s coverage of his norm-smashing presidency became essential reading for a citizenry struggling to wrap their heads around the unimaginable. Thanks to the special perspective that is the legacy of a Soviet childhood and two decades covering the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, Gessen has a sixth sense for signs of autocracy—and the unique cross-cultural fluency to delineate its emergence to Americans. Now, as the 2020 race takes shape, Surviving Autocracy provides an indispensable overview of the calamitous trajectory of the past few years. Gessen not only highlights the corrosion of the media, the judiciary, and other cherished institutions but also tells us the story of how a short few years have changed us from a people who saw ourselves as a nation of immigrants to a populace haggling over a border wall, heirs to a degraded sense of truth, meaning, and possibility. This incisive book will be a lodestar in tumultuous times, and a beacon to recovery—or to enduring, and resisting, an ongoing assault.
The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore
We absolutely loved Wayétu Moore’s debut novel, She Would be King. And now we’re overjoyed to have The Dragons, the Giant, the Women on our shelves now! It recounts for us, Moore’s harrowing journey of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States.
When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States.
Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world, and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.
Parakeet by Marie-Helene Bertino
A darkly funny and always warmhearted new novel from the acclaimed author of 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas
The week of her wedding, The Bride is visited by a bird she recognizes as her dead grandmother because of the cornflower blue line beneath her eyes, her dubious expression, and the way she asks: What is the Internet?
Her grandmother is a parakeet. She says not to get married. She says: Go and find your brother.
In the days that follow, The Bride’s march to the altar becomes a wild and increasingly fragmented, unstable journey that bends toward the surreal and forces her to confront matters long buried.
A novel that does justice to the hectic confusion of becoming a woman today, Parakeet asks and begins to answer the essential questions. How do our memories make, cage, and free us? How do we honor our experiences and still become our strongest, truest selves? Who are we responsible for, what do we owe them, and how do we allow them to change?
Urgent, strange, warm-hearted, and sly, Parakeet is ribboned with joy, fear, and an inextricable thread of real love. It is a startling, unforgettable, life-embracing exploration of self and connection.
A Decade of Disruption by Garrett Peck
An eye-opening history evoking the disruptive first decade of the twenty-first century in America.
An eye-opening history evoking the disruptive first decade of the twenty-first century in America.
Dubya. The 9/11 terrorist attacks. Enron and WorldCom. The Iraq War. Hurricane Katrina. The disruptive nature of the internet. An anxious aging population redefining retirement. The gay community demanding full civil rights. A society becoming ever more “brown.” The housing bubble and the Great Recession. The historic election of Barack Obama—and the angry Tea Party reaction.
The United States experienced a turbulent first decade of the 21st century, tumultuous years of economic crises, social and technological change, and war. This “lost decade” (2000–2010) was bookended by two financial crises: the dot-com meltdown, followed by the Great Recession. Banks deemed “too big to fail” were rescued when the federal government bailed them out, but meanwhile millions lost their homes to foreclosure and witnessed the wipeout of their retirement savings.
The fallout from the Great Recession led to the hyper-polarized society of the years that followed, when populists ran amok on both the left and the right and Americans divided into two distinct tribes. A Decade of Disruption is a timely re-examination of the recent past that reveals how we’ve arrived at our current era of cultural division.
June’s new releases have us floored. Grab each title from BookPeople, online, today!