by Jill Owens, January 6, 2017 4:03 PM
Emily Fridlund's History of Wolves
is one of the most powerful debuts we've read in a long time. T. C. Boyle
raves that it's "as exquisite a first novel as I've ever encountered. Poetic, complex, and utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful," and Aimee Bender
calls it "so delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way." History of Wolves
is the story of Linda, an isolated teenager raised in a defunct commune in a small northern Minnesota town. As the book begins, one of her teachers is arrested for child pornography, and a new family (Leo, Patra, and their toddler son, Paul), with whom Linda becomes increasingly entangled, moves in across the lake. Fridlund connects and layers these separate elements...
by Rhianna Walton, November 1, 2016 9:39 AM
Photo credit: Benjamin Tice Smith
Michael Chabon is the award-winning novelist behind The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
, The Final Solution
, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
, Wonder Boys
, and Telegraph Avenue
, in addition to two short story collections, a YA novel, and, with Dark Horse Comics, The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist
. Chabon’s work is notable for his masterful use of language and ability to blend literary and genre styles to create highly imaginative worlds that reveal emotional and historical truths to the reader.
Chabon’s newest book, Moonglow
, is a sly, quasi-autobiographical novel posing as a memoir. Based on the stories that the narrator, the fictional Mike Chabon, hears at his dying grandfather’s bedside, Moonglow
investigates the horrors and ambiguities of WWII, the rise of the American space program, the nature of testimony, and a grandmother’s madness...
by Jill Owens, October 13, 2016 2:24 PM
If you haven't been paying close attention, it's easy to miss just how prolific Jonathan Lethem has been. Over the course of his career, he's written several early, genre-defying novels (including Gun With Occasional Music
, Amnesia Moon
, and Girl in Landscape
) and better-known later novels, like the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Motherless Brooklyn
, The Fortress of Solitude
, and Dissident Gardens
(to name but a few). But he's also published five collections of short stories, a novella, two books of essays, and a comics series, along with editing and co-editing anthologies on music, science fiction, and memory loss. His wide range of interests and obsessions are part of the great pleasure of his work, informing it all with fascinating juxtapositions and an incredibly generous, intelligent voice.
His newest work, A Gambler's Anatomy
, is quintessential Lethem – Alexander Bruno, a good-looking, charming backgammon gambler who believes he's telepathic, is felled in Berlin by a blot in his vision that turns out to be an almost inoperable tumor...
by Jill Owens, September 27, 2016 9:31 AM
Brit Bennett's The Mothers
has been one of the most anticipated and buzzed about debuts of the fall, for good reason – this story of three young people within a close-knit black church community in California is moving, poignant, subtle, and gorgeously written. Nadia, a beautiful, troubled teenager about to leave on a college scholarship, starts seeing Luke, the pastor's son, after her mother's suicide — and then she gets pregnant. Her decision to have an abortion has a ripple effect on all of their lives, including Aubrey, a devoted church-goer who has her own secrets. The relationships between Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are framed by the voices of The Mothers, the older women who are the bedrock of the church. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly
raves, "[A] brilliant, tumultuous debut novel...
by Jill Owens, August 23, 2016 8:47 AM
It's been 14 years since Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel, Everything Is Illuminated
, propelled the author onto the American literary landscape. Only 25 when his debut novel was published, he garnered critical praise, a National Jewish Book Award, a Guardian First Book Award, and later a movie deal. His second book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
, was a similarly acclaimed bestseller. He also wrote the beautiful Tree of Codes
, which was an artwork based on Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles
, and the nonfiction work Eating Animals
. But his fans have had to wait a while for his latest novel. Here I Am
is more than worth their patience.
Jacob and Julia Bloch are an intelligent, troubled, well-meaning married couple with three fascinating sons facing a moment of reckoning...
by Jill Owens, June 16, 2016 1:55 PM
, Annie Proulx's latest novel, is a sweeping, epic story of the ecological and historical transformation of North America throughout the last three centuries. Though that might sound daunting, it's incredibly tough to put down and as page-turning as a good thriller. Barkskins
is divided into 10 sections which move ahead through time, beginning with 1693 and ending up in 2013. The novel is told through the intermingled stories of two families, the Dukes and the Sels, one mostly considered white and the other largely considered Native American, though both include a mix of the two heritages. Proulx's characters, as always, are unforgettable — she gives us rich and realistic portraits of flawed, empathetic, remarkable people. And the harsh, beautiful, valuable forests, which seem (but of course are not) endless, are a major determiner...
by Jill Owens, May 23, 2016 9:15 AM
Yaa Gyasi's novel, Homegoing
, is a marvelous debut, particularly given the author's youth (Gyasi is 26 years old). But her voice is remarkably confident and assured, spanning generations and centuries. Homegoing
is the story of Esi and Effia, two half-sisters unknown to each other in 18th-century Ghana. Esi becomes the wife of a slave trader; Effia is abducted as a slave, bound for America. Each sister's story, and the stories of their descendants up through the present day, is told in rich, precise, poetic language. Ta-Nehisi Coates
raves, "Gyasi's characters are so fully realized, so elegantly carved — very often I found myself longing to hear more….I think I needed to read a book like this to remember what is possible. I think I needed to remember what happens when you pair...
by Rhianna Walton, May 13, 2016 1:20 PM
In a broadening field of smart, comedic feminist essayists, Lindy West stands out for her authenticity, her vulnerability, and the clarity of her arguments. West is a columnist for The Guardian
and a freelance journalist who has written for Jezebel
, and Seattle’s The Stranger
. She is also a performer and founder of the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign and the advice blog for teens I Believe You / It’s Not Your Fault.
In her new memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
(also subtitled Women Are Funny, It’s Okay to Be Fat, and Feminists Don’t Have to Be Nice
), West traces her coming of age in a culture that can be hostile to women, especially those whose bodies and beliefs run counter to social norms...
by Shawn Donley, May 3, 2016 5:08 PM
Many of us here at Powell's keep a list of authors with whom we'd most want to get together for dinner. My own list has changed quite a bit over the years, but the one constant has been Geoff Dyer. He is a true original — intelligent, unpretentious, deep-thinking, and often hilarious. He has written 14 award-winning, unclassifiable books on subjects as diverse as jazz, World War I, D. H. Lawrence, photography, and life aboard an aircraft carrier.
His new essay collection, White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World
, is the type of book that will alter the way you look at the world around you. In it, he visits places that are well known, like the Forbidden City in Beijing, and others that you've probably never heard of...
by Jill Owens, March 21, 2016 5:00 PM
A Doubter's Almanac
is Ethan Canin's fifth novel (and seventh book), and it explores some
familiar themes for the Guggenheim winner — power, genius, love, and
ethics. It's a character study of Milo Andret, a mesmerizing, brilliant,
and infuriating mathematics wunderkind who understands everything about
topology and very little about other human beings. But it's also a
father–son portrait, as Hans — Milo's son, who shares some of his
mathematical gifts and other personality quirks — struggles with his own
identity and his relationship with his difficult father. NPR raved, "A Doubter's Almanac
is exquisitely crafted. Canin takes us readers deep into the strange
world of his troubled characters without ever making us aware of the
effort involved....[A] completely captivating novel." And in a starred
review, Publishers Weekly
called the novel "a tremendous literary achievement." We are excited to have chosen A Doubter's Almanac