February 6, 2021
The advent of Black History Month seems an ideal time to highlight Amanda Gorman, whose astonishing performance stunned viewers at President Biden’s inauguration. The lovely poem she read will be published on March 30 in a special hardcover edition, and in the fall her collected poetry and a children’s book will come out as well. You can preorder the inaugural poem here.
This coming week is a particularly good one for new novels, so feast your eyes on all of these below!
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Walter Mosley
Published by Mulholland Books
It’s been five years since Easy Rawlins made an appearance in Mosley’s fiction and he is a sight for sore eyes. From 1990’s Devil in a Blue Dress to this 15th novel in the Rawlins mystery series, Blood Grove feels fresh and explosive. In this installment Easy is ensconced in his office in West LA at the height of the counterculture (1969), and is confronted with a troubled Vietnam War vet and a disturbing visit from a family member that could jeopardize the safety of his adoptive daughter, Feather. Classic Mosley—rich in gritty, seedy atmosphere, simmering racial conflicts, and unforgettably colorful characters.
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House
By Cherie Jones
Published by Little, Brown and Company
This is a remarkably self-assured debut. The author, explaining her superb title, has said that a clean-swept home attests to a stable domestic life and the ability of women to persist despite constant challenges. Keeping life on an even keel is not easy in this Barbadian tourist town where danger lurks in the shadows of the beach tunnels. Jones shines a light on the community through four primary voices and their struggles with class conflicts and domestic violence in a heartbreaking, beautifully told tale of the aftermath of a bungled crime..
My Year Abroad
By Chang-rae Lee
Published by Riverhead
When reading a Chang-rae Lee novel I always feel I have never met his characters in other books. And his remarkable new fiction is no exception. Tiller is a smart college dropout living with his father in suburban New Jersey. His life is forever altered by two experiences: an eye-opening year abroad under the mentorship of a Chinese American entrepreneur who is both a patron and a father figure, and his relationship with a single mother and her tween son living in a witness protection program on the other side of the tracks. An unsentimental education in business and life for sure (á la The Sellout or Black Buck) and an incredibly entertaining journey for the reader.
By Brontez Purnell
Published by MCD x FSG Originals
Purnell’s new novel should please his fan base (from every discipline it seems—music, dance, literature) and bring his wide underground fame to the foreground. It’s no wonder that T: The New York Times Style Magazine named him one of the 32 Black Male Writers of Our Time in 2018. From the underbelly of Oakland, CA to the backwaters of Alabama, Purnell reveals what it’s like to be Black and queer in all its complicated, sometimes self-destructive glory where anything, literally anything can happen. Expect hookups, hairdressers, heroin, hangovers, and lots and lots of humor. Purnell is an extraordinary raconteur and is not finished winning awards for his formidable talent..
We Run the Tides
By Vendela Vida
Published by Ecco
From Purnell’s raunchy Oakland we go to Vida’s unspoiled San Francisco on the brink of the tech revolution. We Run the Tides is a complete 180 from jaded world-weariness. The local teenage girls, who attend a fancy boarding school and are obsessed with boys, lead insular lives of privilege and youthful naiveté. But when there is a possible kidnapping, their lives take a dark turn. Vida gets the details of the people, period, and place exactly right, as well as the intricacies of girls’ friendships, which make this novel all the richer. She has written what may be her best novel yet, and as much as you want it to last you will gobble it up quickly.