Book Review

Veteran bookseller Sarah Bagby shares her experience and insight into the literary world. You also listen to Sarah's book reviews through iTunes. Listen or subscribe here

Every so often, a book comes along that has everyone in book world talking about how amazing it is before it’s even been published. Sometimes, that book actually lives up to the early hype. There There, the debut novel by Tommy Orange, lives up to it and more.

Whiting Award Winner Jen Beagin introduces us to a beguilingly damaged character in her debut novel, Pretend I’m Dead

Fatima Farheen Mirza opens her debut novel A Place for Us with a wedding. Part of an Indian-American Muslim family, bride Haida is secure knowing her ever-supportive mother is watching over her; Huda, a typical middle child, is the least visible, trying to blend in, but sidelined most of the time; and youngest son Amar’s fraught tension with his father and on-and-off competition with his elder sister is shown through his mother’s worry. 

The Lost Family, Jenna Blum’s new novel, transports and immerses the reader in the 1960-1980s suburbs and city of New York. The title refers to myriad losses families experience.

Peter Raskin, a German-Jewish émigré and survivor of Auschwitz, lost his family during a Nazi roundup. Harboring guilt for not saving them, he maintains an impenetrable wall around his heart. But while secrets we keep and grief we ignore seem innocuous and ours alone, the consequences for others can be injurious.

Darcie Burrell

Aja Gabel’s debut novel, The Ensemble, begins in 1994 and follows the Van Ness string quartet through 18 years of practice, performance, and competition. The characterization sings, knowledge of music is passed melodically to the reader, and the dissonance of competing egos and ambition is based on Gabel’s own exposure to the world of classical music.

Book Review: 'Brown'

Apr 30, 2018
kevinyoungpoetry.com

April is National Poetry Month. With one day left, there is still time to get in a final fix, and one need look no further than Kevin Young’s new collection Brown: Poems. From poems about Brown V. Board of Education to James Brown and John Brown, to the multitude of shades of brown skin, this volume fully illustrates Young’s special kind of genius.

Lisa Halliday’s debut, Asymmetry, is an experiment in the form of the novel, and an exploration of the multilayered life of an artist. It’s made up of three sections: Folly, Madness, and a Coda.

This commentary originally aired July 10, 2017.  

In his latest crime novel, The Force, Don Winslow abandons the Mexican-California border of his acclaimed novel The Cartel for the patrol borough of Manhattan North, New York City.

Luis Alberto Urrea”s The House of Broken Angels takes place over two days, during two highly charged family gatherings; the first is a funeral, and the second is a last-blast birthday.

Francisco Cantú, author of The Line Becomes a River, worked four years as a Border Patrol Officer along the borderlands of Mexico before getting his MFA in writing from the University of Arizona. As an agent, he kept a diary.

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