October 17, 2020
This week we focus on the great variety of voices in America in its many forms: fiction, fantastic and speculative; biography; poetry; and essay. Whether it is escape or edification you are craving, or collections that can be dipped into for a dose of fine literary prowess, these books represent some of the best writing of the fall season.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song
By Kevin Young (Editor)
Published by LIBRARY OF AMERICA
An indispensable anthology of poetry and lyrics, about the experience of Black Americans—from 18th century writer Phillis Wheatley to Lucille Clifton and Langston Hughes, to contemporary poets like Center for Fiction favorite Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Editor Kevin Young celebrates the “beauty and injustice, music and muses, Africa and America, freedoms and foodways, Harlem and history, funk and opera, boredom and longing, jazz and joy” of this great literature and it’s our pleasure to read this work all in one place.
By Don Delillo
Published by Scribner
An eerie, prophetic, disturbing fiction set in 2022 at a gathering for the Super Bowl. From a harrowing plane ride from Paris to the conversations between friends awaiting the broadcast, this is a fly-on-the-wall experience for the reader, and DeLillo’s surprisingly prescient fiction has striking resonance for our COVID-dominated existence. As usual, his flawless prose and literary panache delivers a profound reading experience in the pages of this elegant novella..
By Milkweed Editions
Published by Robin Wall Kimmerer
First published about eight years ago, Braiding Sweetgrass, instantly became a new classic of contemplative nature literature. Now we have a beautiful new illustrated hardcover edition of these essays to give as a gift, or to treat yourself and keep by your bedside. Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, combines indigenous teachings and ecological consciousness in her beautiful homage to what we can learn from plants. If you’ve never read it, now’s your chance.
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
By Les Payne & Tamara Payne
Published by Liveright
An essential addition to literature about Malcolm X, Les Payne’s biography (finished by Payne’s daughter after his death) takes us from the humble Nebraska beginnings of the civil rights activist through his murder in Harlem. The life lived in those forty short years shaped the course of Black American political history and remains relevant today, more than fifty years later. New generations of readers will discover the man and his work in this revealing, meticulously researched book..
By Wallace Shawn
Published by Haymarket
Shawn is that rare polymath whose combination of intellectual curiosity and dark wit informs all his plays, nonfiction and fiction. Night Thoughts, a new paperback edition of his brilliant and erudite 2017 essay, delves into questions of the essence of humanity in his attempt to make sense of the world. The work remains an urgent, inspiring plea for justice, as he brings the reader into his arguments as though you are in an intimate conversation. Always provocative and entertaining in equal measure, Shawn’s ruminations in the night make for stimulating reading.
By Rebecca Roanhorse
Published by Gallery / Saga Press
Roanhorse is known for her popular books of speculative fiction that weave in Navajo myths, and her work with Marvel Comics that have garnered every significant science fiction/fantasy awards (including the Nebula, Locus and Hugo awards). She has now begun a new fantasy series, a trilogy called Between Earth and Sky and this eagerly awaited first installment is influenced by the great accomplishments of pre-Columbian civilization. Don’t miss her event with us on Tuesday, October 20th where she’ll be joined by Leigh Bardugo and Daniel José Older..