Monday, December 16, 2019

Six books recommended by Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín's novels include The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections, and Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, a look at three nineteenth-century Irish authors. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

At The Week magazine he recommended six of his favorite books, including:
Home by Marilynne Robinson (2008).

This middle novel of a trilogy set in the American Midwest revolves around two elderly clergymen and their families. From this modest material, Robinson creates panorama as well as moments of exquisite intimacy. Glory, at 38, has come home to tend to her elderly father. Robinson handles the intricacies of her mind with real tenderness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Home is among Nick Lake's top ten liars in fiction, Richard Zimler's five best books featuring pariahs, and Diana Quick's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The best books about political awakenings

Romesh Gunesekera is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction including Reef, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Sandglass, winner of the inaugural BBC Asia Award, and The Match, the ground-breaking cricket novel. His debut collection of stories, Monkfish Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book. His 2014 book Noontide Toll captured a vital moment in post-war Sri Lanka.

Gunesekera's new novel is Suncatcher.

At the Guardian he tagged five books to spark new understanding about politics, including:
Another immigrant writer, Kamala Markandaya, was celebrated for her accounts of rural India in the 1950s. The Nowhere Man, a gem recently republished after years of unjust neglect, charts the experience of an Indian family in Britain from 1919 to 1968. It shows a restrained writer’s radicalism and is extraordinarily prescient of our current political plight. The story of elderly Srinivasan facing a confusing, hostile political climate of rising racism and smallmindedness makes us see our surroundings in a new light. Written with elegance, the novel is a devastating indictment of doing nothing when things are going from bad to worse.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Rahaman Ali's 6 best books

No one was closer to Muhammad Ali than Rahaman, his only sibling and best friend. The brothers lived together, trained together and shared pivotal experiences, from Ali's time in the Nation of Islam to the 'Rumble in the Jungle' fight against George Foreman. Rahman became Ali's best sparring partner and part of his inner circle, also acting as a personal bodyguard throughout his brother's career. Rahman retired from competing as a heavyweight himself in 1972, with a record of 14 wins, three losses and one draw. He is the author of My Brother, Muhammad Ali: The Definitive Biography.

One of Ali's six favorite books, as shared at the Daily Express:
LONG WALK TO FREEDOM by Nelson Mandela

I was able to resonate with a lot of what I read here.

This man stood up for his rights, just like Muhammad used his platform, and became vilified.

This book really is touching and reminded me of certain situations that Muhammad and I experienced.

Our own country needed a change for the better. It's a really touching book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Long Walk to Freedom is on Adam Hochschild’s list of five books on Mandela and South Africa, Casey Lee's list of the five best books by Nelson Mandela, Don Mullan's top ten list of books on heroes, and Sammy Perlmutter's five best list of books from Nobel winners who didn't win their medal for literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 13, 2019

The best crime novels of 2019

CrimeReads named their ten best crime novels of 2019. One title on the list:
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down (Forge)

Rachel Howzell Hall’s latest thriller (her first standalone) takes a classic scenario straight out of the Agatha Christie playbook and gives it a modern, subversive twist, as seven strangers answer an invitation to a few nights at a private estate on a lush, remote spit of land off the coast of Mexico. The clash of personalities and secrets is immediate, as the guests discover that their weekend getaway isn’t quite so tranquil as they’d hoped. Howzell Hall has spent the last few years establishing herself as one of the most promising voices in detective fiction with her Elouise Norton series. Here she proves that she knows her way around a traditional mystery, too, with a few thriller twists for good measure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

They All Fall Down is among Kristen Lepionka's seven favorite unlikable female characters.

The Page 69 Test: They All Fall Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ten top dinner parties in fiction

Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.

At the Guardian, they tagged ten top dinner parties in fiction, including:
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in 1960s Nigeria before and during the Biafran war, hunger and starvation are at the heart of this novel. So too is eating. In the capacious, hospitable house of Olanna and Odenigbo, dinner parties are frequent in the years before conflict erupts. In the first of these, the template for the ones to follow, academics and radicals gather to discuss revolution, secession, colonialism – and they eat the food prepared by their houseboy Ugwu: pepper soup, spicy jollof rice, chicken boiled in herbs. He listens, though only half understands, their excited conversation. This inclusive, generous, culturally diverse hospitality becomes a repeating bright memory of better times as the story travels into betrayal and despair.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Half of a Yellow Sun is among Uzo Aduba’s ten favorite books, Barnaby Phillips's ten top books about Nigeria, Pushpinder Khaneka's three best books on Nigeria, and Lorraine Adams's six best books.

Also see Jeff Somers's five most disastrous dinner parties in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Five mysteries set between the World Wars

Donis Casey is the author of The Wrong Girl, the first episode of a fresh new series starring Bianca LaBelle, star of the silent screen action serial, The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse. In addition to this coming-of-age tale of a girl in the glamorous 1920s, Casey is also the author of the Alafair Tucker Mysteries, an award-winning series featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children, set in Oklahoma during the booming 1910s.

At CrimeReads, Casey tagged five mysteries set in the 1920s and 1930s, including:
Martin Edwards, Gallows Court

The atmospheric and intricately plotted Gallows Court (2019) is the first in a new series by Martin Edwards. Set in London in 1930, featuring rich, reclusive, mysterious Rachel Savernake, and a callow young reporter for the Clarion named Jacob Flint. When the Clarion’s chief crime reporter is critically injured by a hit and run driver, Jacob takes over the job of investigating a series of horrific deaths that all have a connection to a cryptic secret society. The elusive Rachel keeps turning up with leads for Jacob to follow, but is she really helping him or leading him down the garden path? In fact, is Rachel at all who she seems to be? Is anyone involved with this dark, twisted case what they appear? Edwards has evoked a grim, sooty, inter-war world, shrouded in fog and evil intentions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Top 10 books to help you save the planet

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top books to help you save the planet, including:
This Is Not A Drill
Extinction Rebellion

An explosive, interactive call to arms from the phenomenally successful climate change protest organisation, This is Not a Drill teaches the reader how to become an informed and determined activist in the front line of the most urgent and important cause of our times.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 9, 2019

Ten top Brontë re-tellings

At Read It Forward Lorraine Berry tagged ten Brontë adaptations you need to read, including:
Becoming Jane Eyre
Sheila Kohler

Those hungry for more information about the remarkable family that produced three literary legends will find plenty to love in Kohler’s reimagining of the events that led to the writing of Jane Eyre. In addition to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, there were three other siblings. Their mother Maria and Elizabeth, the two eldest sisters, perished from tuberculosis at the ages of eleven and ten respectively. Sole brother Branwell was a painter, but he was also an alcoholic and laudanum addict. His death at age thirty-one disrupted the family once again. The three surviving sisters each turned to words and writing as comfort and a chance to explore the darkness. As Kohler takes readers further into Charlotte’s imagination, the familiar figures of Jane, Rochester, and the kind Mrs. Fairfax emerge.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Elizabeth Berg's 6 books for a 'kinder, gentler world'

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Story of Arthur Truluv, Open House (an Oprah's Book Club selection), Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures, as well as the short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. She adapted The Pull of the Moon into a play that enjoyed sold-out performances in Chicago and Indianapolis. Berg's work has been published in thirty countries, and three of her novels have been turned into television movies.

Her new novel is The Confession Club.

At The Week magazine, Berg tagged six books for a "kinder, gentler world," including:
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler (2004).

I have never read an Anne Tyler novel that I haven't loved. In this tale of two people who never should have gotten married, Tyler is quirky, her characters are eccentric, and you keep re-­reading her dialogue for the sheer pleasure of it. The world she creates is the world I want to live in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Five of the best books about interstellar arrivals

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St. Andrews Universities and has a Ph.D. in astronomy. He stopped working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Revelation Space and Pushing Ice were shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Revelation Space, Absolution Gap, Diamond Dogs, and Century Rain were shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Award, and Chasm City won the British Science Fiction Award.

At the Guardian Reynolds tagged five of the best books about interstellar arrivals, including:
Interstellar visitors need not be as large as Rama to wreak transformation, especially if there is intelligence at work. In Tade Thompson’s Rosewater, which won 2019’s Arthur C Clarke award, an alien construct hits London, then tunnels all the way through to Nigeria, eventually emerging and releasing spores that begin to affect human neurological functioning. Thompson continued the story with Rosewater Insurrection, with the final part of the trilogy, Rosewater Redemption, published this year.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Ten dark stories of kids in peril

Zach Vasquez is a native of Los Angeles, California. He writes fiction and criticism.

At CrimeReads he tagged ten top novels and films "that put children up against the outsized terrors of the adult world," including:
Tideland, by Mitch Cullin (2000)
(Film adaptation, 2006)

The third and best-known entry in Mitch Cullin’s Texas Trilogy, Tideland is a grimy update of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland set in the desolate badlands of the Lone Star state. After both of her junkie parents overdose, young Jeliza-Rose spends a summer living alone at her grandparent’s abandoned farm. Or, not quite alone, as she has the corpse of her father and a collection of sentient doll heads to keep her company. Eventually, she falls in with real—and really dangerous—people in the form of her neighbors, a brother-sister pair with a past connection to her father and some upsetting family secrets of their own. Jeliza-Rose processes her harsh and fearsome circumstances by delving further and further into an elaborate fantasy world, but eventually, the darkness that surrounds her on all sides threatens to overwhelm both realities.

Cullin’s novel was adapted in 2006 by Terry Gilliam, who you would assume would be perfectly suited to the material given his penchant for magic realism and dark phantasmagoria. However, the film ended up being his most divisive to date, the ugliness of the story proving too repulsive for many a queasy viewer. But Tideland also has its champions, including fellow surrealist maestro David Cronenberg, who hailed it as a unique and “poetic” horror film and one of the best movies of its year. It’s a hard watch to be sure, but if you respond to the other works listed here, it might just be your cup of LSD.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 6, 2019

Ten top classics of British science fiction

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top titles from the Golden Age of British Sci-Fi, including:
The War of the Worlds
H. G. Wells

The ultimate alien invasion story, Wells’s electrifying yarn has been oft imitated but never bettered. Expertly combining the minutiae of late- Victorian England with the spectacular arrival of dazzlingly imagined extra-terrestrial beings, The War of the Worlds is a triumph of set piece action and pulsating atmosphere
Read about the other entries on the list.

The War of the Worlds also appears on Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on aliens and John Mullan's list of ten of the best aliens in science fiction; the movie version starring Tom Cruise is one of the Independent's five turkey adaptations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Ten books for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" fans

Erin Mayer is a writer and editor specializing in personal essays and musings about face creams that probably won’t cure her anxiety (but hey, it’s worth a shot). Her work has appeared on Bustle, Literary Hub, Man Repeller, Book Riot, and more. She spends her free time drafting tweets she never finishes and reading in front of the television.

At Read it Forward she tagged ten books to read if you love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, including:
Park Avenue Summer
Renée Rosen

This novel features the real-life former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Helen Gurley Brown, responsible for transforming the magazine to appeal to the modern woman. In Park Avenue Summer, wannabe photographer Alice Weiss lands a coveted position at the publication and moves to New York from her small Midwestern hometown to make her dreams come true.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about comedy

Louis Barfe is expert on all aspects of the entertainment industry. He is the author of Where Have All The Good Times Gone? The Rise and Fall of the Record Industry (2004), Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment (2008) and The Trials and Triumphs of Les Dawson (2012).

His new book is Happiness and Tears: The Ken Dodd Story.

At the Guardian he tagged a (UK-centric) top ten list of books about comedy. One of the classic titles on the list:
The Rutland Dirty Weekend Book by Eric Idle (1976)

Rutland Weekend Television, the Monty Python spin-off that inspired this book, remains unrepeated and unreleased on DVD. I found this before I’d seen even a frame of the series. It’s a masterpiece, not least the real cover wraparound hiding the fake cover for the Vatican Sex Manual and the libellous Who’s Who in Rutland, printed on brown parcel paper.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Seven readalikes for fans of Atwood's "The Testaments"

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged seven books to read if you loved The Testaments, including:
The Farm, by Joanne Ramos

Possibly the most direct readalike on the list, this novel is about women who have children for other women in a place known as the Farm. The deal is this: a huge payday in exchange for nine months of your time growing a baby that, once birthed, will go to the person who paid for it. Jane agrees to be a ‘Host’, but soon realizes there’s another, hidden cost to this agreement: she can’t leave as long as she’s pregnant, or she forfeits the fee she so desperately needs to help her actual family, the one she loves beyond the walls of the Farm. An eerie, modern approach to similar questions addressed by Atwood’s novels.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Seven London novels by writers of color

J.R. Ramakrishnan is a writer and editor. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Electric Literature, Harper's Bazaar, Harper's, amongst other publications. Her fiction has appeared in [PANK] and Mixed Company.

At Electric Lit Ramakrishnan tagged seven novels that celebrates the 40% of Londoners who aren't white, including:
Small Island by Andrea Levy

Novelist Andrea Levy’s father arrived in the U.K. on the Empire Windrush, the ship which brought the first large group of colonial subjects from the West Indies in 1948. The Windrush generation helped build today’s Britain (and most certainly London, its language, and its culture). In Small Island, Levy tells the stories of Jamaicans, Gilbert and Hortense, as well as those of Queenie and Bernard, a white couple with whom they become entangled. Set in 1948, the novel moves between the characters, back to World War II, and across the world to India, and back to London with a twist at its end. Worth a read in light of the recent Windrush scandal. Another offering of Windrush stories to check out is the nonfiction Windrush: The Irresistible Rise Of Multi-Racial Britain by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Small Island is among Virginia Nicholson's ten top books about women in the 1950s, Martin Fletcher's five best books on nations and lives in transition, and Gillian Cross's top ten books that throw everything you think you know upside down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books recommended by Joseph Kanon

Joseph Kanon is the internationally bestselling novelist whose titles include: Los Alamos, which won the Edgar Award for best first novel; The Good German, which was made into a film starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett; The Prodigal Spy; Alibi, which earned Kanon the Hammett Award of the International Association of Crime Writers; Leaving Berlin and The Defectors. He is also a recipient of The Anne Frank Human Writers Award for his writings on the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Kanon's new novel is The Accomplice.

At The Week magazine he recommended six books, including:
The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1955).

The best of Greene's 1950s novels is the story of an idealistic CIA agent whose naïveté precipitates a tragedy, told by the morally compromised British journalist who sets out to stop him. A lesson in good intentions leading to unexpected consequences, and a preview of the Vietnam disaster about to come.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Read the opening paragraph from The Quiet American.

The Quiet American is among Pete Buttigieg’s ten favorite books, Cat Barton's five top titles on Southeast Asian travel literature, Richard Haass's six top books for understanding global politics, Sara Jonsson's seven best literary treatments of envy, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's top ten classic spy novels, Tom Rachman's top ten journalist's tales, John Mullan's ten best journalists in literature, Charles Glass's five best books on Americans abroad, Robert McCrum's books to inspire busy public figures, Malcolm Pryce's top ten expatriate tales, Catherine Sampson's top ten Asian crime fiction, and Pauline Melville's top 10 revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 2, 2019

Seven books set in New Orleans that go beyond Mardi Gras

J.R. Ramakrishnan is a writer and editor.

Her work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Electric Literature, Harper's Bazaar, Harper's, amongst other publications. Her fiction has appeared in [PANK] and Mixed Company.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books set in New Orleans that go beyond Mardi Gras, including:
We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

We Cast A Shadow is meant to be set in a white supremacist future America, where a black man is attempting to get his biracial son a “demelanization” procedure to secure the boy’s future. The opening scene of a soiree in a mansion on the “Avenue of the Streetcars,” however, reads as only ever so slightly out there. The unnamed narrator, a lawyer, notes: “She was one of the good ones, even if, as she once drunkenly admitted to me in a stalled elevator, she sometimes fantasized about wearing blackface and going on a crime spree. After shattering storefront windows and mugging tourists by the Cathedral, she would wash the makeup from her face, content in the knowledge that the authorities would pin her deeds on some thug who actually had it coming.” Ruffin, a former lawyer, paints the scene of the city’s Uptown surrealism with a mini museum of multicultural gods and a library that includes a title called The Hip Hop Ontologist’s View of Leda and the Swan, an especially intriguing title I’d love to borrow from the author. By bending reality without excess throughout, Ruffin’s sleight of hand with the peculiarities of New Orleans, which goes unnamed in the book, is even more hilarious. But what he cuts apart about race in America, now and in the book’s future setting (where the past is not even past in elements like the Dreadlock Ordinance and the Black Panther-like ADZE group), is unsurprisingly not easy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Five top books about ice

Amy Sackville was born in 1981. She studied English and Theatre Studies at Leeds, and went on to an MPhil in English at Exeter College, Oxford. She is the author of The Still Point (which won the John Llewellyn Rhys award and was longlisted for the Orange Prize) and Orkney which won a Somerset Maugham Award.

Her newest novel is Painter to the King.

At the Guardian, Sackville tagged five of the best books about ice, including:
Tarjei Vesaas’s unsettling and lovely novel The Ice Palace, translated from the Norwegian by Elizabeth Rokkan, tells the story of an intense, half-understood bond between Siss and Unn, two schoolgirls. Full of longing and desire, “full of the unknown”, it is as dream-like and powerful as the frozen waterfall at its centre. Unn is lost, enchanted and disoriented by the chambers of this palace, by turns hostile and magnificent, and far too cold.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Five amusing A.I. characters who should all definitely hang out

Deana Whitney has a Masters of Arts in Medieval European History and often credits her love of reading fantasy with her love of history. At Tor.com she tagged five "lovable and charming" fictional AI characters, including:
Marvin the Paranoid Android, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

A suicidal, deeply depressed robot might seem an odd choice for this list, but I think [Brandon Sanderson’s] M-Bot could help Marvin put his “brain the size of a planet” to good use and maybe feel marginally less depressed during their time together. Droll British humor is not everyone’s cup of tea, yet I really enjoy the snark Marvin brings to the HHGTTG books. I want to hug him, even though he would not enjoy it. Marvin is a survivor; he turns up when not expected and against the odds. He can also destroy any hostile robots by just talking to them. Marvin has an impressive set of skills that are totally not appreciated by the bipedal beings he typically has to support on the Heart of Gold.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy appears on Jeff Somers's list of seven books in which the "deep state" wields power, Jason Hough's list of favorite examples of creative faster than light (FTL) travel in fiction, Rachel Stuhler and Melissa Blue's top five list of books celebrating geek culture, Fredrik Backman's six favorite books list, Jon Walter's top ten list of heroes of refugee fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of the six most memorable robots in literature, Charlie Jane Anders's lists of the ten most unbelievable alien races in science fiction, eleven books that every aspiring television writer should read and ten satirical novels that could teach you to survive the future, Saci Lloyd's top ten list of political books for teenagers, Rob Reid's list of 6 favorite books, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of ten of the best bars in science fiction, Don Calame's top ten list of funny teen boy books, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best instances of invisibility in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven notable standup comedy memoirs

A MacDowell Colony and Hawthornden Castle Fellow, Leland Cheuk is the author of the story collection Letters From Dinosaurs (2016) and the novel The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong (2015), which was also published in translation in China (2018).

His newest novel is No Good Very Bad Asian.

Cheuk lives in Brooklyn and teaches at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute.

At Electric Lit he tagged seven standup comedy memoirs that will make you laugh and cry. including:
Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

“Don’t perform in heels. It’s not worth your calves looking 20% better.”

This one’s just came out and like my novel, also happens to be framed as a series of scandalous letters of advice to the comedian’s daughters. Though we’re complete strangers, I swear she stole my idea! When I was doing standup, I would treat myself by going to Comedy Cellar and seeing the soon-to-be stars and Ali Wong was one of them, and believe it or not, she was even raunchier back then.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 29, 2019

Six top pet themed mysteries

V.M. Burns is the acclaimed author of screenplays, children’s books, and cozy mysteries, including the Dog Club Mysteries, the RJ Franklin Mysteries, and the Mystery Bookshop Series. Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, V.M. Burns currently resides in Tennessee with her poodles. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime.

Burns's new novel is Bookmarked for Murder.

At CrimeReads she tagged six of her favorite cozy mystery series that feature pets, including:
Laurien Berenson, A Melanie Travis Mystery, A Pedigree to Die For

The apparent heart attack that killed kennel owner Max Turnbull has left seven pups in mourning, and his wife Peg suspecting foul play. But the only evidence is their missing prize pooch–a pedigreed poodle named Beau. That’s when Melanie Travis, a thirty-something teacher and single mother is talked into investigating.

This fantastic series was one of the first dog-themed cozies I ever read and I fell in love with Berenson’s poodles along with her knack for weaving a good mystery.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Six novels that capture Detroit, past & present

Jodie Adams Kirshner is a research professor at New York University. Previously on the law faculty at Cambridge University, she also teaches bankruptcy law at Columbia Law School. She is a member of the American Law Institute, past term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and technical advisor to the Bank for International Settlements.

Kirshner received a prestigious multi-year grant from the Kresge Foundation to research her new book, Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises.

At LitHub she tagged six novels set in Detroit that capture the feeling of the city’s present and past. One title on the list:
Angela Flournoy, The Turner House

Another recent debut novel, The Turner House, charts the lives of a family of thirteen siblings as they determine what to do with their family house on Detroit’s eastside. The book offers a slow-paced, character-driven exploration of complex family relationships, but, as in [Stephen Mack Jones's] August Snow, the city itself becomes a force driving events. The book vividly describes the family’s earlier migration to the city to escape the Jim Crow South, only to encounter housing and job discrimination there. In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the family must now navigate the city’s poverty and housing challenges. The family house has fallen to one tenth the value of its mortgage, and the garage is stolen for scrap metal.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ten top eyewitness accounts of 20th-century history

Charles Emmerson is an Australian-born writer and historian. He studied modern history at Oxford University and international relations in Paris. He is the author of The Future History of the Arctic and 1913: The World Before the Great War.

Emmerson's latest book is Crucible: The Long End of the Great War and the Birth of a New World 1917-24.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top eyewitness accounts of 20th-century history, including:
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

Alexievich is the meta-witness to the Soviet experience, eyewitness to the eyewitnesses. She turns memories into folk epics and gives human scale to the awful hugeness of the “Great Patriotic War”. Here are the stories of women often drowned by what the war had become in the 1980s USSR, the stale trumpet-blare of Communist legitimacy. Then she did the same for Chernobyl, the starting point of the Soviet Union’s unravelling, as important to the century’s end as its foundation was to its start. Literature is “news that stays news”, wrote Ezra Pound. This is what Alexievich has done for her eyewitnesses: imbuing their testimony with the power of literature, thus ensuring it remains relevant for all time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven novels expectant parents should read

At Electric Lit Allison Gibson tagged eleven "novels that can illuminate common truths about parenthood by exploring the joys, challenges and, often, spectacularly flawed dynamics of the family experience," including:
White Oleander by Janet Fitch

In her masterful and much-celebrated novel White Oleander, Janet Fitch confirms every parent’s dark suspicion that with the responsibility of caring for a child comes the capacity to do tremendous damage. The story of a brilliant imprisoned poet, whose daughter ends up navigating adolescence in the foster care system, explores what it means to be both an artist and a parent — and what, if anything, can redeem the irreparable damage a parent’s choices have caused.
Read about the other entries on the list.

White Oleander is among Michelle Sacks's top five novels with complex and credible child narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Five villains who have had enough of domestic life

Margot Hunt is a USA Today best selling author of Best Friends Forever and For Better And Worse. Her new novel is The Last Affair.

Hunt has also written eight previous books as Whitney Gaskell, and the Young Adult series Geek High under the pen name Piper Banks.

At CrimeReads she tagged five books about "ordinary people who turn villainous," including:
Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison

Grief is a force that can break even the strongest spirits. Ethan and Sutton Montclair certainly learn that, as their marriage crumbles after their son dies from SIDS, each spouse blaming the other for their baby’s death. Then one morning, Ethan wakes to find Sutton gone, leaving behind a note telling him not to look for her. The fact that she hasn’t taken her purse, passport or clothing instantly causes the police to become suspicious . . . and Ethan is the main person of interest in her disappearance. What happened to Sutton? And what really happened to the Montclairs’ baby?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Lie to Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 25, 2019

Six notable works of satire

Dave Eggers's books include The Monk of Mokha; The Circle; Heroes of the Frontier; A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award; and What Is the What, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of France’s Prix Médicis Etranger. He is the founder of McSweeney’s and the cofounder of 826 Valencia, a youth writing center that has inspired similar programs around the world, and of ScholarMatch, which connects donors with students to make college accessible. He is the winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and is the cofounder of Voice of Witness, a book series that illuminates human rights crises through oral history. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into forty-two languages.

Eggers's new book is The Captain and the Glory, an illustrated novel about an unfit, buffoonish leader.

At The Week magazine he recommended six works of satire, including:
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (1913).

For me, The Custom of the Country is the sharpest and by far the funniest Wharton novel, and nothing less than a masterpiece of social satire. A young social climber, Undine Spragg, claws her way up through New York and Parisian society during the Belle Époque. Every new peak she reaches soon becomes an insufferable plateau, and the climb begins again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Ten top books for "Battlestar Galactica" fans

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ross Johnson tagged ten "frakking good books for Battlestar Galactica fans," including:
Fortune’s Pawn, by Rachel Bach

Though it resulted in plenty of whining from the usual quarters, one of the most impressive innovations of the 2004 Battlestar was reimagining Starbuck—the smart-mouthed, hard-drinking, cigar-smoking ace pilot from the original—as a woman (brought to hard-edged, angular, and instantly iconic life by Katee Sackhoff). She was by no means the first space-military badass to also be a woman, but she certainly shifted the bar. In that spirit, Bach’s novel (the first in a trilogy) introduces Devi Morris, an ambitious and talented mercenary who takes a security job on a ship with a reputation for trouble. Over the course of the series, she finds herself in a galactic conflict, and comes into contact with a virus that could be lethal to the “phantoms” invading our universe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fortune’s Pawn is among Sam Maggs's five top books about kick-ass women livin’ large among the stars and Thea James's eight best women in military science fiction.

My Book, The Movie: Fortune's Pawn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Six of the best books about flooding

Edward Platt was born in 1968 and lives in London. His first book, Leadville, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He is also the author of The Great Flood which explores the way floods have shaped the physical landscape of Britain, and The City of Abraham, a journey through Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis lived side by side.

At the Guardian, Platt tagged six books that explore the devastating impact of flooding. One title on the list:
Daniel Defoe said the hurricane that struck Britain on 26 November 1703 would have forced the most devout atheist “to doubt whether he was not in the Wrong”. His account of that night in The Storm is remarkable for its eyewitness reports of the devastation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

See Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on flooding.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 22, 2019

The great third wheels of fiction

Annaleese Jochems was born in 1994 and grew up in the far north of New Zealand. She won the 2016 Adam Prize from the International Institute of Modern Letters and the 2018 Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction for Baby, which is her first book.

At CrimeReads she tagged some of the great third wheels of literature, including:
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Plain, poor Jane has nothing to offer the rich and virile Rochester but her virtue. He says that’s worth a lot. But how can his love for Jane be true when the beautiful and wealthy Blanche Ingram is fluttering about, hankering for his affections? To readers it’s obvious that Rochester has something to hide. He’s too perfect. How can Jane’s story, which has been one of deprivation, suddenly become a fairy tale of love and luxury without someone having to pay the price?

The thing that’s most intriguing to me about Jane Eyre is Charlotte Brontë. How aware was she of the subtext of her novel? This puzzle is a big pleasure with all fiction, but because Jane Eyre is such a surreal, dreamlike story and told in such plain, reasonable style, it becomes particularly obsessive. Surely it’s no accident that the handsome Rochester needs to lose his vision before Jane can trust him? Or that another woman has to suffer before the long-suffering Jane’s big romantic love can be true?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Six speculative fiction books about migration

Malka Older is a writer, aid worker, and sociologist. Her science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus, Book Riot, and the Washington Post. The Centenal Cycle trilogy, which also includes Null States (2017) and State Tectonics (2018), is a finalist for the Hugo Best Series Award of 2018. She is also the creator of the serial Ninth Step Station, currently running on Serial Box, and her short story collection ...And Other Disasters is now out. Her non-fiction writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and NBC THINK. Named Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2015, she has more than a decade of field experience in humanitarian aid and development. Her doctoral work on the sociology of organizations at Sciences Po Paris explores the dynamics of post-disaster improvisation in governments.

At Tor.com Older tagged six speculative fiction books "that illustrate different elements of immigration and the Othered status of the migrant," including:
The Star Beast by Robert Heinlein

There are probably a lot of Heinleins that would fit into this, but I’m particularly fond of The Star Beast. I haven’t read it since I was a teenager, so it’s likely more problematic than I remember, but my recollection is of a sweet story that flips a lot of assumptions about sentience, superiority, and who is in charge of whom. The book plays with a lot of assumptions about aliens, most obviously with the big and friendly beast variously seen as a threat or a prize or a pet. Another character has a phobia to an element of a different alien’s physiognomy, and struggles to control it in full knowledge that it is their own problem and not reflective of the alien at all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue