Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from the likes of Danielle Evans, Jonathan Lethem, Margaret Atwood, and more—that are publishing this week.
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The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Office of Historical Corrections: “Evans (Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self) brings her usual wit and keen eye to her latest collection, which offers seven stories that explore the complexity of human emotions and relationships. While every story offers a discrete narrative, recurring themes of pain, loss, fear, and failed relationships give the collection a sense of unity. The title novella is the crowning jewel, a historical mystery centered around a Black historian whose job in Washington, D.C., is complicated when she is sent on a dangerous assignment to the site of a 1937 lynching in Wisconsin. The rest of the stories, however, are hit-or-miss. ‘Why Won’t Women Just Say What They Want’ is a witty exploration of a male artist’s love life and his bizarre project of apologizing to the women he hurt. ‘Alcatraz;’ is a sad, touching story that explores how an unjust incarceration destroys a family. However, ‘Boys Go to Jupiter,’ in which a white college student deals with ‘collective anger’ after a photo of her in a Confederate-flag bikini goes viral, fails to say anything of note about race or racism. Despite its shortcomings, this is a timely, entertaining collection from a talented writer who isn’t afraid to take chances.”
One Night Two Souls Went Walking by Ellen Cooney
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about One Night Two Souls Went Walking: “A hospital chaplain working the night shift recalls encounters with patients, coworkers, and a therapy dog named Bobo Boy in Cooney’s illuminating latest (after The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances). The unnamed 30-something chaplain, who wears her white collar with bright-colored blouses rather than clerical black, first became curious about the nature of souls in her childhood. She mentions her large family and two ex-lovers, but her focus is on the ill, injured, and dying strangers she’s assigned to help—such as the bus driver involved in a crash where four people died, the bank teller who wants to be sure the angel carrying her into the afterlife is strong enough not to drop her, and the 91-year-old stroke victim nurses believe suffers from dementia. When a therapy dog escapes his handler, the chaplain remembers Bobo Boy, the beloved deceased mixed-breed therapy dog with a gift for providing comfort and a tendency to break loose. Brief, vivid portraits of Bobo Boy, doctors, nurses, patients and the chaplain herself form a memorable collage of souls in need. Cooney’s uplifting novel captures extraordinary moments of sadness, pain, and grace, as one woman brings light to life’s darkest moments.”
Somewhere in the Unknown World by Kao Kalia Yang
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Somewhere in the Unknown World: “Hmong-American memoirist Yang (The Latehomecomer) tells the stories of fellow refugees who have ended up in Minnesota in this lyrical and frequently harrowing account. Her profile subjects include her uncle, who fought for the CIA in Laos only to be left behind when the U.S. pulled out of the country; a Bosnian war survivor who worked for an American aid organization at a refugee camp in Sudan; a young Karen man who fled Burma as his people were systematically murdered by the government; and an Iraqi woman whose grandfather was killed by Saddam Hussein’s soldiers. Through the story of a Vietnamese-American chef restoring his family’s restaurant, Yang also offers a moving portrait of University Ave. in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Once anchored by Henry Ford’s manufacturing plants, by the 1970s University Ave. had been left behind to drug dealers, gangs, and ‘immigrants and refugees.’ Yang details how a wave of ‘small mom and pop businesses’ began opening along the avenue, transforming it ‘from an abandoned, dying street into a vibrant enclave of diverse businesses.’ This heartfelt and exquisitely written account shines a poignant light on the immigration debate.”
The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Arrest: “Lethem (The Feral Detective) returns with a lukewarm tale of an apocalypse set in the very near future. Sandy Duplessis worked as a screenwriter in Los Angeles with his friend Peter Todbaum. Then came the Arrest, an unexplained event that caused computers and other technology to stop working and reduced everyone to locavores. In the aftermath, Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, ends up in rural Maine working as a butcher and delivering food grown by his sister, Maddy. When Todbaum shows up and starts pursuing Mandy, their simple life gets complicated. The locals feel threatened by Todbaum’s presence, and Sandy, who is unnerved by Todbaum’s claim that he predicted the Arrest, wonders if his old friend can be trusted, while Maddy, who begins sleeping with Todbaum, becomes his sole defender. Lethem’s prose is as great as ever (‘Journeyman was a middle person, a middleman. Always locatable between things, and therefore special witness in both directions, to extremes remote to one another, an empathic broker between irreconcilable poles—or so he flattered himself’), but despite the fine writing, the plot fails to coalesce into something engaging, the Arrest remains murky, and many scenes feel disjointed. Still, the project crackles and hums with witty dialogue and engaging ideas. While it’s not entirely satisfying, Lethem’s fans won’t mind.”
Also on shelves this week: Dearly by Margaret Atwood and an expanded reissue of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon.