Edwidge Danticat

Photo: L Busacca/WireImage.com

4 of 6
EDWIDGE DANTICAT, Brother, I'm Dying
I always try to give books from warm places, because I figure they are like mini vacations during the coldest days of the year. Though not always cheerful in subject matter, there's plenty to learn, think about, and certainly to enjoy in The Other Side of Paradise, by Staceyann Chin, and Love, Anger, Madness by Marie Vieux-Chauvet. I have loved this book my whole life and I have always given it as a gift to friends, but since it's been published in English for the first time this year I can now give it to my English-speaking friends. It is a trilogy—three novellas set in Haiti in the 1930s. Each novella is a feast of its own. Love triangles. Military oppression. Sibling rivalry. Redemption through poetry. The author died in exile in the United States in 1973, and this is the first official translation.

I love it when I get any book at all, especially by an author I've not read yet. But if I must choose, I'd ask for the new Ha Jin story collection, A Good Fall, and anything by Asha Bandele, author of The Prisoner's Wife and Something Like Beautiful, and any diet book that actually works.