The end of August gives us just a taste of the kind of bookish excitement we can expect from the Fall. Heavyweights John Meachem and Helen MacDonald bring their best, one-of-a-kind debuts make a splash, and bookseller favorites hit the shelves. Check out what we’ve got for you below!
His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by John Meachem
A timely and inspiring portrait of civil rights hero and longtime U.S. congressman John Lewis, linking his life to the quest for equal rights from the 1950s to the present—from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of America.
John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is a visionary and a man of faith. Using intimate interviews with Lewis and his family and deep research into the history of the civil rights movement, Meacham writes of how the activist and leader was inspired by the Bible, his mother’s unbreakable spirit, his sharecropper father’s tireless ambition, and his teachers in nonviolence, Reverend James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr. A believer in hope above all else, Lewis learned from a young age that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. At the age of four, Lewis, ambitious to become a preacher, practiced by preaching to the chickens he took care of. When his mother cooked one of the chickens, the boy refused to eat it—his first act of non-violent protest. Integral to Lewis’s commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God, and an unshakable belief in the power of hope.
Meacham calls Lewis “as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the nation-state in the eighteenth century. He did what he did—risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful—not in spite of America, but because of America, and not in spite of religion, but because of religion.”
Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald
From the New York Times bestselling author of H is for Hawk and winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction, comes a transcendent collection of essays about the human relationship to the natural world
Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.
In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.
Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.
By one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
*MYSTERYPEOPLE PICK OF THE MONTH*
Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s own nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.
They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.
Winter Counts is a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling.
Sisters by Daisy Johnson
“One of her generation’s most intriguing authors” (Entertainment Weekly), Daisy Johnson is the youngest writer to have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Now she returns with Sisters, a haunting story about two sisters caught in a powerful emotional web and wrestling to understand where one ends and the other begins.
Born just ten months apart, July and September are thick as thieves, never needing anyone but each other. Now, following a case of school bullying, the teens have moved away with their single mother to a long-abandoned family home near the shore. In their new, isolated life, July finds that the deep bond she has always shared with September is shifting in ways she cannot entirely understand. A creeping sense of dread and unease descends inside the house. Meanwhile, outside, the sisters push boundaries of behavior—until a series of shocking encounter tests the limits of their shared experience, and forces shocking revelations about the girls’ past and future.
Written with radically inventive language and imagery by an author whose work has been described as “entrancing” (The New Yorker), “a force of nature” (New York Times Book Review), and “weird and wild and wonderfully unsettling” (Celeste Ng), Sisters is a one-two punch of wild fury and heartache—a taut, powerful, and deeply moving account of sibling love and what happens when two sisters must face each other’s darkest impulses.
You don’t want to miss out on this staff favorite that Lindsey calls, “Ruinous and gorgeous and deeply intelligent,” and that Charley describes as “beautifully dark, twisting and emotional.” Order Sisters today!
Summer by Ali Smith
“A prose poem in praise of memory, forgiveness, getting the joke and seizing the moment.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile, the world’s in meltdown—and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.
This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: Where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?
From the environmental activist, consumer advocate, renowned crusader, and champion fighter whose courageous case against Pacific Gas and Electric was dramatized in the Oscar-winning film—a book to inspire change that looks at our present situation with water and reveals the imminent threats to our most precious, essential element as it shows us how, in large and practical ways, we can each take action to make changes in our cities, our towns, and our villages before it is too late.
In Erin Brockovich’s long-awaited book—her first to reckon with conditions on our planet—she makes clear why we are in the trouble we’re in and warns us that if we’re waiting for someone to save us, Superman isn’t coming. Nor is the government or the environmental agencies. No one is going to solve this for us. It is up to us, we the people, and Brockovich shows us how.
She shows us what’s at stake (the average American uses nearly one hundred gallons of water each day, for everything from drinking to cooking to bathing), writing of the unreported cancer clusters, of plastic pollutants in our tap water (we produce more than three hundred million tons annually of plastic in the world, and half of all plastics created for disposable items such as water bottles), of the fraudulent science that disguises these issues.
She identifies and describes the most toxic chemicals in everyday products, from shampoos and baby lotions to cell phones and Tupperware, with only a few hundred under regulation, among them asbestos, lead, mercury, radon, and formaldehyde.
She describes the saga of PG&E that continues to this day, and how her work in Hinckley, California, far from being a oneoff situation, opened up a rabbit hole bigger than anyone could have imagined, leading Brockovich to all of our backyards. We see the communities and people with whom she has worked and who have helped to make an impact: the water operator in Poughkeepsie, New York, who changed his system to create some of the safest water in the country; the moms in Hannibal, Missouri, who became the first citizens in the nation to file an ordinance prohibiting the use of ammonia in their public drinking water; the woman in Tonganoxie (Tongie), Kansas, who fought to keep a massive, $320 million Tyson chicken processing complex out of her town (population: 5,300).
Throughout, Brockovich, ever inspiring, empowers us, urging us to act on what we know is right: to ask questions, to scrutinize our water professionals; showing us ways to protect our health, our families, and our lives; to storm our city halls, to use local media, town hall meetings, etc., until our water is safe for everyone to drink. Whether we have PhDs, or degrees in science or in law; whether we’re politicians, or government or agency officials, Brockovich shows us how we can each take baby steps to make a difference that can, and will, and must change the world.
Order Superman’s Not Coming today and be sure to catch Erin Brockovich during the first ever virtual Texas Book Festival happening October 31st – November 15th!
The Last Great Road Bum by Héctor Tobar
In The Last Great Road Bum, Héctor Tobar turns the peripatetic true story of a naive son of Urbana, Illinois, who died fighting with guerrillas in El Salvador into the great American novel for our times
Joe Sanderson died in pursuit of a life worth writing about. He was, in his words, a “road bum,” an adventurer and a storyteller, belonging to no place, people, or set of ideas. He was born into a childhood of middle-class contentment in Urbana, Illinois and died fighting with guerillas in Central America. With these facts, acclaimed novelist and journalist Héctor Tobar set out to write what would become The Last Great Road Bum.
A decade ago, Tobar came into possession of the personal writings of the late Joe Sanderson, which chart Sanderson’s freewheeling course across the known world, from Illinois to Jamaica, to Vietnam, to Nigeria, to El Salvador—a life determinedly an adventure, ending in unlikely, anonymous heroism. In The Last Great Road Bum, Tobar inhabits Sanderson’s story with Sanderson chiming in from the footnotes, a persistent reminder of the source material for this sweeping story of youthful idealism, naive adventure, failed ambition, political awakening, and commitment to joyous action in the face of an often uncooperative world.
The Last Great Road Bum is the great American novel Joe Sanderson never could have written, but did truly live—a fascinating, timely hybrid of fiction and nonfiction that only a master of both like Héctor Tobar could pull off.
Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa
From the internationally bestselling author of the “terrifically affecting” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) Mornings in Jenin, a sweeping and lyrical novel that follows a young Palestinian refugee as she slowly becomes radicalized while searching for a better life for her family throughout the Middle East, for readers of international literary bestsellers including Washington Black, My Sister, The Serial Killer, and Her Body and Other Parties.
As Nahr sits, locked away in solitary confinement, she spends her days reflecting on the dramatic events that landed her in prison in a country she barely knows. Born in Kuwait in the 70s to Palestinian refugees, she dreamed of falling in love with the perfect man, raising children, and possibly opening her own beauty salon. Instead, the man she thinks she loves jilts her after a brief marriage, her family teeters on the brink of poverty, she’s forced to prostitute herself, and the US invasion of Iraq makes her a refugee, as her parents had been. After trekking through another temporary home in Jordan, she lands in Palestine, where she finally makes a home, falls in love, and her destiny unfolds under Israeli occupation. Nahr’s subversive humor and moral ambiguity will resonate with fans of My Sister, The Serial Killer, and her dark, contemporary struggle places her as the perfect sister to Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.
Written with Susan Abulhawa’s distinctive “richly detailed, beautiful, and resonant” (Publishers Weekly) prose, this powerful novel presents a searing, darkly funny, and wholly unique portrait of a Palestinian woman who refuses to be a victim.
The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous
A timely and haunting novel from an exciting new voice in international literature, set in present-day Syria
In her therapist’s waiting room in Damascus, Suleima meets a strange and reticent man named Naseem, and they soon begin a tense affair. But when Naseem, a writer, flees Syria for Germany, he sends Suleima the unfinished manuscript of his novel. To Suleima’s surprise, she and the novel’s protagonist are uncannily similar. As she reads, Suleima’s past overwhelms her and she has no idea what to trust—Naseem’s pages, her own memory, or nothing at all?
Narrated in alternating chapters by Suleima and the mysterious woman portrayed in Naseem’s novel, The Frightened Ones is a boundary-blurring, radical examination of the effects of oppression on one’s sense of identity, the effects of collective trauma, and a moving window into life inside Assad’s Syria.
The Sprawl by Jason Diamond
From garage rock to Greta Gerwig, Jason Diamond asks us to reconsider the creative potential of the American suburb as he leads us down the cul-de-sac and out again.
For decades the suburbs have been where art happens despite: despite the conformity, the emptiness, the sameness. Time and again, the story is one of gems formed under pressure and that resentment of the suburbs is the key ingredient for creative transcendence. But what if, contrary to that, the suburb has actually been an incubator for distinctly American art, as positively and as surely as in any other cultural hothouse? Mixing personal experience, cultural reportage, and history while rejecting clichés and pieties and these essays stretch across the country in an effort to show that this uniquely American milieu deserves another look.
Uriel’s thrilled for this new release. Of The Sprawl, he says, “it’s a humorous, sobering look at the much-maligned, oft-ignored wilderness of Suburbia. It’s sociology and pop culture critique, and a tinge of urban planning bundled into one, neat package. It’s a little heady but that’s okay, because reading it is so effortless at the same time. Fascinating, too, because suddenly I’m looking at a place I once called home so differently.”
The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
A grandfather who lives abroad returns home to visit his adult children. The son is a failure. The daughter is having a baby with the wrong man. Only the grandfather is perfect—at least, according to himself.
But over the course of ten intense days, relationships unfold and painful memories resurface. The grandfather is confronted by his past. The daughter is faced with an impossible choice. The son tries to write himself free. Something has to give. Per a longstanding family agreement, the grandfather has maintained his Swedish residency by coming to stay with his son every six months. Can this clause be renegotiated, or will it chain the family to its past forever?
Through a series of quickly changing perspectives, in The Family Clause Jonas Hassen Khemiri evokes an intimate portrait of a chaotic and perfectly normal family, deeply wounded by the death of a child and the disappearance of a father.
Now in Paperback
Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley
The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Angie Cruz discusses her 2019 bookseller favorite, Dominicana, alongside Jaquira Díaz, Carolina De Robertis, and Patricia Engel for a special virtual presentation live on Zoom on September 8th at 7PM. Tickets are available now!
The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott
In the Country of Women by Susan Straight
These titles and more are available for purchase in-store or online from BookPeople today.