18 Books to Watch for in April 2011
From hard-boiled detective fiction like Edward Conlon's Red on Red to the social science breakthroughs in Tina Rosenberg's Join the Club, April's got something for everyone.
O, The Oprah Magazine |
March 22, 2011
Fans of Edward Conlon's Blue Blood, a memoir about his career in the New York City Police Department, have waited seven long years for his debut novel, Red on Red (Spiegel & Grau). And it was so worth the wait.
American-born photographer John McDermott has been dubbed the “Ansel Adams of
Angkor”—and you can see why: His moody photos of Cambodian temples
are full of light and shadow as befits both ancient peoples and current
Art historian Gail Levin's Lee Krasner (William Morrow) is a quintuple whammy of a biography—the story of a major artist; a description of a notorious marriage; an education in 20th-century art; a gossipy immersion into bohemian New York; and a settling of scores against those who practiced gender bias (one teacher said of her work, "This is so good you would not believe it was done by a woman"). Born in Brooklyn in 1908, Lena Krasner evolved from schoolgirl into starving art student who worked in FDR's WPA program. When she became involved with Jackson Pollock in the early '40s, Krasner was already part of the New York art scene, a friend to painters like Willem de Kooning; she never complained that her own work was eclipsed by Pollock's. "Sure it was rough. Big deal," she said. "I was in love with [him] and he was in love with me. He gave an enormous amount, Pollock. Of course, he took, too." After his car-crash death in 1956, she continued to nurture his reputation while rediscovering her own style. By the time Krasner died in 1984, she was recognized as one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism. As she said in 1973, "The only thing I haven't had against me was being black. I was a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent."
"After a loss, you have to learn to believe the dead one is dead. It
doesn't come naturally." That seemingly simple observation is just one
of the many profound thoughts in Meghan O'Rourke's The Long Goodbye
(Riverhead), an achingly moving memoir about her mother's death in 2008
at age 55.
Oppressed by the brutal Taliban, a courageous Afghan woman and her sisters succeed as unlikely entrepreneurs in this inspiring true story.
From Borneo to sub-Saharan Africa, globalism is dramatically affecting people and cultures—as shown in these firsthand accounts by a veteran environmental journalist.
Passionate, personal, and exhaustively researched, this memoir by journalist and Zimbabwe native Peter Godwin exposes the ravages of dictator Robert Mugabe's reign.
Women in a New Jersey community inexplicably stop having sex with their men in this sly homage to the Aristophanes classic Lysistrata.
Astutely observed linked stories reveal the pleasures, temptations, secrets, and disappointments of lovers, parents, and children in an English seaside town.
The materialistic wife at the center of this engaging novel balks when her workaholic husband decides to give everything away. Can this marriage be saved?
What's the key to success? The New York Times columnist—using a fictional couple to illustrate reams of research on that provocative question—argues that it's the unconscious mind.
These insightful stories, some set in a beauty salon, explore the moving, often clueless relationships between Ghanaian and American women.
In her memoir of science and medical miracles, Ackerman writes affectionately of her husband's battle to recover from a stroke that robbed him of language.
This best-seller set in the author's native Korea examines a family's history through the story of the matriarch, mysteriously gone missing from a Seoul train station.
Mixing wry wit and gritty realism, Atkinson deftly smudges the border
between literary and detective fiction—with complex, compelling
characters negotiating a maze of grisly violence, dark secrets, and
How dreamy—summer in Rome and the nearby seaside with family and friends. Except that the Soviet Jews thrown together there in David Bezmozgis's electrifying debut novel The Free World (FSG) are immigrants and refugees stranded in 1978 as they await visas to their Promised Land, wherever that may be. Canada? The United States? Australia? Bezmozgis, himself a transplant from Latvia to Toronto, displays a quicksilver empathy and quiet, burning admiration for the strong women attached to three generations of Krasnanskys, a family that Roman exile threatens to break apart. The matriarch, Emma, is a "simple creature" sidelined by the chaos of change. Her daughter-in-law Polina, a Christian among Jews, contends with a wayward husband, Alec, the handsome, slippery lover boy at the story's violent core. Both women have lost children, a bond that unites them despite the differences in their marriages, their ages, and their experiences of Rome. As for the men—oy: criminal mishaps, misguided love affairs, and a stubborn refusal to let go of a Soviet past even though it betrayed them with anti-Semitism, famine, and war. Along with the darkness, though, there is beauty here: "Dmitri led them out of the necropolis, past a statue of a headless, armless man in a toga, and along a street of bleached stone ruins, with their exposed floors mutely resigned to the whims of the sky." These are the charms of the ancient city, but for the Krasnanskys they can't compare to the lure of a new life.
Each story takes you to a different place and time; from a British cartographer's circa 1930 exploration of the Arabian desert to a futuristic take on global warming, these exterior worlds are as fantastically fashioned as the characters themselves.
Here are some things we know peer pressure can cause: smoking, driving drunk, buying stuff we don't need. Here are some things Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tina Rosenberg has seen peer pressure do: increase math performance among minority students, help prevent the spread of HIV, contribute to the demise of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic's repressive regime. In her smart and earnest book, Join the Club (Norton), Rosenberg, a MacArthur "genius" grant recipient, debunks the popular notion that peer pressure is always bad and argues that by helping people find positively persuasive cohorts, we can change the world. One unforgettable example: a stop-smoking campaign in Florida that convinced teenagers it was more rebellious and cool to confront the tobacco companies than to use their products. "Peer pressure is a mighty and terrible force—so powerful that, for the vast majority of people, the best antidote to it is more peer pressure."' '