Book-wise, 2021 is treating us so well and this week is a big one for non-fiction! Writing guides, essays, and history texts are breaking ground, showing us new ways to view the world. And on the fiction side, we’ve got two new reads from perennial favorites Nnedi Okorafor and Ladee Hubbard! Read more about ’em when you scroll down.
Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
An alien artifact turns a young girl into Death’s adopted daughter in Remote Control, a thrilling sci-fi tale of community and female empowerment from Nebula and Hugo Award-winner Nnedi Okorafor
“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”
The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa—a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.
Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks—alone, except for her fox companion—searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.
But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?
Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping by Matthew Salesses
“An insightful guide for readers, writers, and instructors from all walks of life,” this manifesto and practical guide challenges current models of craft and the writing workshop by showing how they fail marginalized writers, and how cultural expectations inform storytelling (Kirkus Reviews).
The traditional writing workshop was established with white male writers in mind; what we call craft is informed by their cultural values. In this bold and original examination of elements of writing–including plot, character, conflict, structure, and believability–and aspects of workshop–including the silenced writer and the imagined reader– Matthew Salesses asks questions to invigorate these familiar concepts. He upends Western notions of how a story must progress. How can we rethink craft, and the teaching of it, to better reach writers with diverse backgrounds? How can we invite diverse storytelling traditions into literary spaces?
Drawing from examples including One Thousand and One Nights, Curious George, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, and the Asian American classic No-No Boy, Salesses asks us to reimagine craft and the workshop. In the pages of exercises included here, teachers will find suggestions for building syllabi, grading, and introducing new methods to the classroom; students will find revision and editing guidance, as well as a new lens for reading their work. Salesses shows that we need to interrogate the lack of diversity at the core of published fiction: how we teach and write it. After all, as he reminds us, “When we write fiction, we write the world.”
The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard
The acclaimed author of The Talented Ribkins deconstructs painful African American stereotypes and offers a fresh and searing critique on race, class, privilege, ambition, exploitation, and the seeds of rage in America in this intricately woven and masterfully executed historical novel, set in early the twentieth century that centers around the black servants of a down-on-its heels upper-class white family.
For fifteen years August Sitwell has worked for the Barclays, a well-to-do white family who plucked him from an orphan asylum and gave him a job. The groundskeeper is part of the household’s all-black staff, along with “Miss Mamie,” the talented cook, pretty new maid Jennie Williams, and three young kitchen apprentices—the latest orphan boys Mr. Barclay has taken in to “civilize” boys like August.
But the Barclays fortunes have fallen, and their money is almost gone. When a prospective business associate proposes selling Miss Mamie’s delicious rib sauce to local markets under the brand name “The Rib King”—using a caricature of a wildly grinning August on the label—Mr. Barclay, desperate for cash, agrees. Yet neither Miss Mamie nor August will see a dime. Humiliated, August grows increasingly distraught, his anger building to a rage that explodes in shocking tragedy.
Elegantly written and exhaustively researched, The Rib King is an unsparing examination of America’s fascination with black iconography and exploitation that redefines African American stereotypes in literature. In this powerful, disturbing, and timely novel, Ladee Hubbard reveals who people actually are, and most importantly, who and what they are not.
Homo Irrealis: Essays by André Aciman
The New York Times–bestselling author of Find Me and Call Me by Your Name returns to the essay form with his collection of thoughts on time, the creative mind, and great lives and works
Irrealis moods are the set of verbal moods that indicate that something is not actually the case or a certain situation or action is not known to have happened . . .
André Aciman returns to the essay form in Homo Irrealis to explore what the present tense means to artists who cannot grasp the here and now. Irrealis is not about the present, or the past, or the future, but about what might have been but never was—but could in theory still happen.
From meditations on subway poetry and the temporal resonances of an empty Italian street, to considerations of the lives and work of Sigmund Freud, Constantine Cavafy, W. G. Sebald, John Sloan, Éric Rohmer, Marcel Proust, and Fernando Pessoa, and portraits of cities such as Alexandria and St. Petersburg, Homo Irrealis is a deep reflection of the imagination’s power to shape our memories under time’s seemingly intractable hold.
The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler
(Virtual Event 1/19—Register Here!)
Bestselling author and peak performance expert Steven Kotler decodes the secrets of those elite performers—athletes, artists, scientists, CEOs and more—who have changed our definition of the possible, teaching us how we too can stretch far beyond our capabilities, making impossible dreams much more attainable for all of us.
What does it take to accomplish the impossible? What does it take to shatter our limitations, exceed our expectations, and turn our biggest dreams into our most recent achievements?
We are capable of so much more than we know—that’s the message at the core of The Art of Impossible. Building upon cutting-edge neuroscience and over twenty years of research, bestselling author, peak performance expert and Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective, Steven Kotler lays out a blueprint for extreme performance improvement. If you want to aim high, here is the playbook to make it happen!
Inspirational and aspirational, pragmatic and accessible, The Art of Impossible is a life-changing experience disguised as a how-to manual for peak performance that anyone can use to shoot for the stars . . . space-suit, not included.
Yang Jisheng’s The World Turned Upside Down is the definitive history of the Cultural Revolution, in withering and heartbreaking detail.
As a major political event and a crucial turning point in the history of the People’s Republic of China, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) marked the zenith as well as the nadir of Mao Zedong’s ultra-leftist politics. Reacting in part to the Soviet Union’s “revisionism” that he regarded as a threat to the future of socialism, Mao mobilized the masses in a battle against what he called “bourgeois” forces within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This ten-year-long class struggle on a massive scale devastated traditional Chinese culture as well as the nation’s economy.
Following his groundbreaking and award-winning history of the Great Famine, Tombstone, Yang Jisheng here presents the only history of the Cultural Revolution by an independent scholar based in mainland China, and makes a crucial contribution to understanding those years’ lasting influence today.
The World Turned Upside Down puts every political incident, major and minor, of those ten years under extraordinary and withering scrutiny, and arrives in English at a moment when contemporary Chinese governance is leaning once more toward a highly centralized power structure and Mao-style cult of personality.
Elizabeth Blackwell believed from an early age that she was destined for a mission beyond the scope of “ordinary” womanhood. Though the world at first recoiled at the notion of a woman studying medicine, her intelligence and intensity ultimately won her the acceptance of the male medical establishment. In 1849, she became the first woman in America to receive an M.D. She was soon joined in her iconic achievement by her younger sister, Emily, who was actually the more brilliant physician.
Exploring the sisters’ allies, enemies, and enduring partnership, Janice P. Nimura presents a story of trial and triumph. Together, the Blackwells founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, the first hospital staffed entirely by women. Both sisters were tenacious and visionary, but their convictions did not always align with the emergence of women’s rights—or with each other. From Bristol, Paris, and Edinburgh to the rising cities of antebellum America, this richly researched new biography celebrates two complicated pioneers who exploded the limits of possibility for women in medicine. As Elizabeth herself predicted, “a hundred years hence, women will not be what they are now.”
New in Paperback
The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg
The Impossible First by Colin O’Brady
Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon
These titles and more are available for purchase in-store or online from BookPeople today.