How do you survive the dog days of summer in Austin? Our answer is, and always will be, books. This week gives us an epic, new book by John Boyne, a Booker Prize Longlist title, and a dystopian legal thriller by a local favorite—just to name a few. Read up on them and so many more below!
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook
*LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE*
Helen Phillips meets Miranda July in this daring and imaginative debut novel that explores a moving mother-daughter relationship in a world ravaged by climate change and overpopulation, a suspenseful second book from the author of the acclaimed story collection, Man V. Nature.
Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away. The smog and pollution of the City—an over-populated, over-built metropolis where most of the population lives—is destroying her lungs. But what can Bea do? No one leaves the City anymore, because there is nowhere else to go. But across the country lies the Wilderness State, the last swath of open, protected land left. Here forests and desert plains are inhabited solely by wildlife. People are forbidden. Until now.
Bea, Agnes, and eighteen others volunteer to live in the Wilderness State as part of a study to see if humans can co-exist with nature. Can they be part of the wilderness and not destroy it? Living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, this new community wanders through the grand country, trying to adhere to the strict rules laid down by the Rangers, whose job it is to remind them they must Leave No Trace. As the group slowly learns to live and survive on the unpredictable and often dangerous land, its members battle for power and control and betray and save each other. The farther they roam, the closer they come to their animal soul.
To her dismay, Bea discovers that, in fleeing to the Wilderness State to save Agnes, she is losing her in a different way. Agnes is growing wilder and closer to the land, while Bea cannot shake her urban past. As she and Agnes grow further apart, the bonds between mother and daughter are tested in surprising and heartbreaking ways.
Yet just as these modern nomads come to think of the Wilderness State as home, its future is threatened when the Government discovers a new use for the land. Now the migrants must choose to stay and fight for their place in the wilderness, their home, or trust the Rangers and their promises of a better tomorrow elsewhere.
Failed State by Christopher Brown
In this second dystopian legal thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Rule of Capture and Tropic of Kansas, defense lawyer Donny Kimoe juggles two intertwined cases whose outcomes will determine the course of America’s future—and his own.
In the aftermath of a second American revolution, peace rests on a fragile truce. Though the ruling regime has been deposed, the former dictator president has vanished, escaping justice. Some believe he is dead; others fear he is in hiding, gathering forces to make a comeback. As the political leadership in Washington works to rewrite laws and restore order, Donny Kimoe seeks justice. He intends to settle scores—and win lawsuits—over what happened when civil war tore the country apart.
Donny isn’t the only one looking to right the wrongs of the past. The rebels he once defended are now exacting their own kind of justice. Amid the flooded ruins of New Orleans, they are building their idea of utopia—which includes kidnapping their defeated adversaries who got rich destroying the country and trying them for their crimes. One of their hostages is the daughter of an old colleague turned enemy who wants Donny to defend her. If Donny fails, the companies allied with his former friend will send their mercenaries to save her and retake the city—breaking the fragile truce and dragging the country back into violence. But if Donny takes the case, he risks blowing the trial for his most dangerous client—and being tried by his former clients for his own crimes against the revolution.
To save the future, Donny has to gamble his own. The only way out is to find the evidence that will get both sides back to the table, bring the feud to an end, and secure a more lasting peace. To do that, Donny must take even greater risks—and break his own moral code—by betraying his clients’ secrets. Including one explosive secret hidden in the ruins, the discovery of which could extinguish the last hope for a better tomorrow—or, if Donny plays it right, keep it burning.
Order before Thursday, August 12th, you can get your own copy of Failed State signed and personalized by Christopher Brown himself—don’t hesistate!
A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne
From the bestselling author of A Ladder to the Sky—“a darkly funny novel that races like a beating heart” (People)—comes a new novel that plays out across all of human history: a story as precise as it is unlimited.
This story starts with a family. For now, it is a father and a mother with two sons, one with his father’s violence in his blood, one with his mother’s artistry. One leaves. One stays. They will be joined by others whose deeds will determine their fate. It is a beginning.
Their stories will intertwine and evolve over the course of two thousand years. They will meet again and again at different times and in different places. From Palestine at the dawn of the first millennium and journeying across fifty countries to a life among the stars in the third, the world will change around them, but their destinies remain the same. It must play out as foretold.
From the award-winning author of The Heart’s Invisible Furies comes A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom, an epic tale of humanity. The story of all of us, stretching across two millennia. Imaginative, unique, heartbreaking, this is John Boyne at his most creative and compelling.
The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures by Jennifer Hofmann
Now, on the day the Berlin Wall falls and Zeiger’s mind begins to crumble, his past transgressions have come back to haunt him. Who is the real Lara, what happened to her, and what is her connection to these events? As the surveiller becomes the surveilled, the mystery is both solved and deepened, with unexpected consequences.Set in the final, turbulent days of the Cold War, The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures blends the high-wire espionage of John le Carré with the brilliant absurdist humor of Milan Kundera to evoke the dehumanizing forces that turned neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend. Jennifer Hofmann’s debut is an affecting, layered investigation of conscience and country.
Little Scratch by Rebecca Watson
In the formally innovative tradition of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers and Ducks, Newburyport comes a dazzlingly original, shot-in-the-arm of a debut that reveals a young woman’s every thought over the course of one deceptively ordinary day.
She wakes up, goes to work. Watches the clock and checks her phone. But underneath this monotony there’s something else going on: something under her skin.
Relayed in interweaving columns that chart the feedback loop of memory, the senses, and modern distractions with wit and precision, our narrator becomes increasingly anxious as the day moves on: Is she overusing the heart emoji? Isn’t drinking eight glasses of water a day supposed to fix everything? Why is the etiquette of the women’s bathroom so fraught? How does she define rape? And why can’t she stop scratching?
Fiercely moving and slyly profound, little scratch is a defiantly playful look at how our minds function in—and survive—the darkest moments.
The Boy In the Field by Margot Livesey
The New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy delivers another “luminous, unforgettable, and perfectly rendered” (Dennis Lehane) novel—a poignant and probing psychological drama that follows the lives of three siblings in the wake of a violent crime.
One September afternoon in 1999, teenagers Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan Lang are walking home from school when they discover a boy lying in a field, bloody and unconscious. Thanks to their intervention, the boy’s life is saved. In the aftermath, all three siblings are irrevocably changed.
Matthew, the oldest, becomes obsessed with tracking down the assailant, secretly searching the local town with the victim’s brother. Zoe wanders the streets of Oxford, looking at men, and one of them, a visiting American graduate student, returns her gaze. Duncan, the youngest, who has seldom thought about being adopted, suddenly decides he wants to find his birth mother. Overshadowing all three is the awareness that something is amiss in their parents’ marriage. Over the course of the autumn, as each of the siblings confronts the complications and contradictions of their approaching adulthood, they find themselves at once drawn together and driven apart.
Written with the deceptive simplicity and power of a fable, The Boy in the Field showcases Margot Livesey’s unmatched ability to “tell her tale masterfully, with intelligence, tenderness, and a shrewd understanding of all our mercurial human impulses” (Lily King, author of Euphoria).
Zo by Xander Miller
Set in Haiti, a breathtaking love story—a saga of passion, tenacity, and hope in the face of disaster
We first meet Zwazo Delalun, or Zo, during his childhood, in the 1990s, in a fishing village on the western tip of Haiti. An orphan, he learns to swim and fish, then to harvest almonds and cut cane. He travels the island in his youth, finding work wherever he can. One morning, while hauling cement in the broiling sun, he meets Anaya, a nursing student who is sipping cherry juice under a tree. Their attraction is instantaneous, fierce; what grows between them feels like the destiny-changing love Zo has yearned for. But Anaya’s father, protective and ambitious on behalf of his only daughter, cannot accept that a poor, uneducated man such as Zo is good enough for her, and he sends Anaya away to Port-au-Prince. Then something even more shattering happens: on January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake churns the ground beneath the capital city, destroying nearly everything in its wake, leaving the dead unnumbered, and forever altering the course of life for those who survive.
At once suspenseful, heartrending, and gorgeously lyrical, Zo is an unforgettable journey of heroism, grief, redemption, and persistence against all odds. With a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story at its core, this novel brings us vividly to Haiti at a moment of historic tragedy and transformation, as it tells a luminous tale of unlikely love.
The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True Story of America’s Middle Class by Jim Tankersley
Vivid character-driven narrative, fused with important new economic and political reporting and research, that busts the myths about middle class decline and points the way to its revival.
For over a decade, Jim Tankersley has been on a journey to understand what the hell happened to the world’s greatest middle-class success story — the post-World-War-II boom that faded into decades of stagnation and frustration for American workers. In The Riches of This Land, Tankersley fuses the story of forgotten Americans– struggling women and men who he met on his journey into the travails of the middle class– with important new economic and political research, providing fresh understanding how to create a more widespread prosperity. He begins by unraveling the real mystery of the American economy since the 1970s – not where did the jobs go, but why haven’t new and better ones been created to replace them.
His analysis begins with the revelation that women and minorities played a far more crucial role in building the post-war middle class than today’s politicians typically acknowledge, and policies that have done nothing to address the structural shifts of the American economy have enabled a privileged few to capture nearly all the benefits of America’s growing prosperity. Meanwhile, the “angry white men of Ohio” have been sold by Trump and his ilk a theory of the economy that is dangerously backward, one that pits them against immigrants, minorities, and women who should be their allies.
At the culmination of his journey, Tankersley lays out specific policy prescriptions and social undertakings that can begin moving the needle in the effort to make new and better jobs appear. By fostering an economy that opens new pathways for all workers to reach their full potential — men and women, immigrant or native-born, regardless of race — America can once again restore the upward flow of talent that can power growth and prosperity.
The Way of Imagination by Russell Scott Sanders
Prize-winning essayist turns to the imagination as a spiritual guide and material method of living through climate disruption, as climate change and broad extinction forever alter our place on the planet and our lives together.
Scott Russell Sanders shows how imagination, linked to compassion, can help us solve the urgent ecological and social challenges we face. While reflecting on the conditions needed for human flourishing, he tells the story of his own intellectual and moral journey from childhood religion to an adult philosophy of life. That philosophy is tested when his first wife and then their son fall ill. Compelled to leave their beloved old house, they design a new one, and then transform their vision into a home and their raw city lot into a garden.
Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall
Sharp, lyrical poems celebrating the Black vernacular—its influence on pop culture, its necessity for familial survival, its rite in storytelling and in creating the safety found only within its intimacy
Definition of finna, created by the author: fin·na /ˈfinə/ contraction: (1) going to; intending to [rooted in African American Vernacular English] (2) eye dialect spelling of “fixing to” (3) Black possibility; Black futurity; Blackness as tomorrow
These poems consider the brevity and disposability of Black lives and other oppressed people in our current era of emboldened white supremacy, and the use of the Black vernacular in America’s vast reserve of racial and gendered epithets. Finna explores the erasure of peoples in the American narrative; asks how gendered language can provoke violence; and finally, how the Black vernacular, expands our notions of possibility, giving us a new language of hope:
nothing about our people is romantic
& it shouldn’t be. our people deserve
poetry without meter. we deserve our
own jagged rhythm & our own uneven
walk towards sun. you make happening happen.
we happen to love. this is our greatest
The Shame by Makenna Goodman
What if you could change your life? Would you do it? How would you do it?
Alma and her family live close to the land: they raise chickens and sheep, they make maple syrup. Every day Alma’s husband leaves for his job at a nearby college while she stays home with their young children, cleans, searches for secondhand goods online, and reads books by the women writers she adores. Then, one night, she abruptly leaves it all behind—speeding through the darkness, away from their Vermont homestead, bound for New York.
In a series of flashbacks, Alma reveals the circumstances and choices that led to this moment. The joys and claustrophobia of their remote life through the passing of each season. Her fears and uncertainties about motherhood. The painfully awkward faculty dinners. Her feelings of loneliness and failure. And her growing fascination with Celeste: the mysterious ceramicist and self-loving doppelgänger whose story begins as inspiration for Alma before turning into a powerful obsession.
A fable both blistering and surreal, The Shame is a propulsive, funny, and thought-provoking debut about a woman in isolation, whose mind—fueled by capitalism, motherhood, and the search for meaningful art—attempts to betray her.
Twenty After Midnight by Daniel Galera
A dark and masterful portrait of a generation in crisis, from one of the most exciting young voices in international literature
The world had been theirs in the late 90s: they were the young provocateurs behind a countercultural scene, digital bohemians creating a new future. But fifteen years later, Duke, the leader and undisputed genius of their group, has been murdered, and the three remaining members of their circle reunite to piece together what became of their lives and how they fell so short of their expectations.
Now in their thirties, Aurora, Antero, and Emiliano have succumbed to the pressures of adulthood, the exigencies of carving out a life in a country that is fraying at the seams. Reunited after years of long-held grudges and painful crushes, the three try to resurrect the spirit of the all-night parties and early morning trysts, the protests and pornography of their youths. Lurking over them, as they puzzle out their fates, is the question of whether or not there is a future for them to believe in, or if the end has already arrived.
Twenty After Midnight is a portrait of the first generation of the digital age, a group that was promised everything but handed a fractured world. Daniel Galera has written a pre-apocalyptic tale of millennial longings.
Now in Paperback
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tockarczuk
The Second Frontier by Eric Foner
A Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin
Black Card by Chris L. Terry
These titles and more are available for purchase in-store or online from BookPeople today.