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

Take Your Time With 'Sunken Cathedral'

Aug 4, 2015

Kate Walbert's elegant and compact new novel The Sunken Cathedral takes its name from a composition by Debussy, who is said in the book to be to music what Cezanne is to painting--Impressionist.

'Aron' Is Difficult, Compassionate And Powerful

Jul 13, 2015

"My mother and father named me Aron, but my father said they should have named me, ‘What Have You Done,’ and my uncle told everyone they should have called me, ‘What Were You Thinking.’"

'The Sympathizer' Is A Masterful Debut

Jun 29, 2015

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen is set in motion by the fall of Saigon in 1975.

April marks a mass exodus of Vietnamese loyalists, primarily to the U.S. Our narrator works for a powerful general in the South Vietnamese Army as a trusted captain. He drives for the general, he negotiates for the general with the honest, the corrupt, the dissidents and the deserters. The trusted captain is ever present, but he never draws attention to himself. The trusted captain is also a double agent.

Provocative Novels Take On 'Post-Racial America'

Jun 15, 2015

Paul Beatty and Mat Johnson are black novelists who successfully use humor to address difficult subjects in two new novels, as they take on the concept that we live in a "post-racial" America. What does that even mean?

A Story Of Discovery

Jun 1, 2015
Nina Subin

In lucid and lyrical prose, The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein tells the story of two disparate souls who meet in Lofoten, a group of tiny islands above the Arctic Circle in Norway.

'The Daylight Marriage' Is A Heartbreaking Mystery

May 18, 2015

Heidi Pitlor, a seasoned editor for the annual Best American Short Stories, is the author of the newly released novel, The Daylight Marriage. If a prerequisite to success as a writer is extensive reading, then Pitlor’s editor gig guarantees her success.

We meet Hannah and Lovell on the evening of an explosive argument. They are about 40 and years into their marriage. Raising two children in the suburbs, there is no one thing wrong in their marriage, but rather, many small disappointments that have become big resentments over the years.

'Hold Still' Is Not To Be Missed

May 4, 2015

Sally Mann’s exhibition of photographs of her children brought her persecution. She was accused of exploitation because of the naked images she produced of them at their remote Virginia home.

But now, in her beguiling memoir Hold Still, she is on display on her own terms. Mann relates her life as an artist, a southerner, a mother, daughter and wife. Scrupulously illustrated with her own photographs, plus journals and mementos she found cleaning out her parents’ attic, the book draws you completely into the world of a thoughtful, articulate, funny and generous woman.

The Light of the World: A Memoir is an elegant book by Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, mother and widow. Her husband of 16 years was found dead next to their treadmill, just after his 50th birthday. The multiple blocked arteries that caused a massive heart attack had gone undetected by medical tests.

'Comma Queen' Is A Joy To Read

Apr 6, 2015

Mary Norris describes the birth of her love affair with the New Yorker in her new book Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.

In the summer of 1977, she was reading one of writer John McPhee’s impeccable and exact pieces about the Alaskan wilderness, and came across a new word, "synecdoche." She could deduce what it meant from the context—a small thing writ large—as in the wilds of Alaska. What made her ecstatic was the knowledge that when McPhee used such a word, she knew it was the right word at exactly the right time.

'Just Mercy' Will Change How You See The World

Mar 23, 2015
James Duncan Davidson / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a private, nonprofit human rights organization, helping the poor, the incarcerated, the condemned and children. He is also professor of law at New York University School of Law and received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, and also won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.