Book Review

Journalist and book reviewer Suzanne Perez reviews the latest books and such for KMUW on air and right here. Discover new reviews on alternate Mondays. You can also listen to KMUW book reviews through iTunes. Listen or subscribe here

There are times when you don’t finish a book in time for a book club discussion but you go anyway. I mean, it’s all about the wine and conversation, right?

But then there are times when you’re halfway through a book that’s full of twists, turns and gasp-inducing surprises, and you just have to send your regrets: “See you next month,” I told the KMUW Literary Feast regulars recently. Because SPOILERS.

You might be asking yourself, “How many novels about World War II does a person really need to read?” And the answer is: at least one more.

About three years ago, author Kristin Hannah began writing a novel about hard times in America—the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, economic collapse, massive unemployment and income inequality.

“Never in my wildest dreams,” Hannah writes in the author’s note of her new novel, “did I imagine that the Great Depression would become so relevant in our modern lives.”

For a writer like me to review a writer like Joan Didion seems downright ridiculous. Didion is an icon, a legend—a writer of novels, memoir and nonfiction that will be studied by journalists and writing students long into the future.

Courtesy photo

It’s a new year—thank goodness—and a great time to take stock of your reading habits and set new goals for what and how you’d like to read in 2021. One great way to do that is to join a reading challenge.

I’m not a regular reader of “Southern Living” magazine—save the occasional recipe for shrimp and grits if I’m feeling homesick—and I don’t believe I’ve ever picked up an issue of “Garden & Gun.” But the magazine pieces that make up Rick Bragg’s latest book make me want to buy a subscription.

Several years ago, when I read the 2012 novel Beautiful Ruins, I recall setting the book down and promising myself that I would read anything and everything Jess Walter ever wrote. The man can spin a tale better than almost any novelist alive today—and his newest work, The Cold Millions, does not disappoint.

There’s a lot of talk these days about “Own Voices” novels. It’s a term that refers to an author from a marginalized or under-represented group writing about his or her own experiences, from an authentic, lived perspective.

Earlier this year, as the coronavirus began to spread across the globe, Alice Quinn reached out to American poets to see what they were writing under quarantine. The result is Together in a Sudden Strangeness, an anthology that reflects the fear and isolation the pandemic wrought, as well as the deep reflection and creativity that has come from it.

Irish author Maggie O’Farrell won this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction for Hamnet, a novel inspired by and named after William Shakespeare’s only son—and the possible inspiration for his tragedy “Hamlet.”