New Books November 2018

Fiction

Milkman by Anna Burns
In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be. Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him―and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend―rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive.

Winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

Feast Days by Ian MacKenzie
In stylish prose and with piercing wit, Ian MacKenzie tells the story of Emma, a young woman who has moved from New York to Brazil just as massive demonstrations against the government are breaking out across the country amid growing economic inequality. Emma has come to Brazil for her husband’s career, with no job prospects of her own, a weak grasp of the language, and a deep ambivalence about having a child. Her early days in Sao Paulo are listless but privileged; she dines at high-end restaurants, tutors wealthy Brazilians in English, and observes the city she now calls home.

But when Emma volunteers at a local church to assist refugees and grows more deeply connected to the people she meets in the course of her days, she finds herself unable to resist the tug of Sao Paulo’s political and social unrest.

As the country moves seemingly closer to a breaking point, so does Emma’s marriage, as she and her husband can no longer ignore the silent, tectonic shifts beneath the surface of their relationship.

Feast Days is a sharply observed story of expatriate life, as well as a meditation on the hidden costs of modern living and how easily our belief systems can collapse around us.

From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan
For Farouk, family is all. He has protected his wife and daughter as best he can from the war and hatred that has torn Syria apart. If they stay, they will lose their freedom, will become lesser persons. If they flee, they will lose all they have known of home, for some intangible dream of refuge in some faraway land across the merciless sea.

Lampy is distracted; he has too much going on in his small town life in Ireland. He has the city girl for a bit of fun, but she’s not Chloe, and Chloe took his heart away when she left him. There’s the secret his mother will never tell him. His granddad’s little sniping jokes are getting on his wick. And on top of all that, he has a bus to drive; those old folks from the home can’t wait all day.

The game was always the lifeblood coursing through John’s veins: manipulating people for his enjoyment, or his enrichment, or his spite. But it was never enough. The ghost of his beloved brother, and the bitter disappointment of his father, have shadowed him all his life. But now that lifeblood is slowing down, and he’s not sure if God will listen to his pleas for forgiveness. Three men, searching for some version of home, their lives moving inexorably towards a reckoning that will draw them all together.

CoDex 1962: A Trilogy by Sjón
Josef Löwe, the narrator, was born in 1962―the same year, the same moment even, as Sjón. Josef’s story, however, stretches back decades in the form of Leo Löwe―a Jewish fugitive during World War II who has an affair with a maid in a German inn; together, they form a baby from a piece of clay. If the first volume is a love story, the second is a crime story: Löwe arrives in Iceland with the clay-baby inside a hatbox, only to be embroiled in a murder mystery―but by the end of the volume, his clay son has come to life. And in the final volume, set in present-day Reykjavík, Josef’s story becomes science fiction as he crosses paths with the outlandish CEO of a biotech company (based closely on reality) who brings the story of genetics and genesis full circle. But the future, according to Sjón, is not so dark as it seems.

In CoDex 1962, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material and folklore and cosmic myths into a singular masterpiece―encompassing genre fiction, theology, expressionist film, comic strips, fortean studies, genetics, and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.

Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead takes place in a remote Polish village, where Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, she becomes involved in the investigation. Duszejko is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars, and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken.

Filled with wonderful characters like Oddball, Big Foot, Black Coat, Dizzy and Boros, this subversive, entertaining noir novel, by ‘one of Europe’s major humanist writers’ (Guardian), offers thought-provoking ideas on our perceptions of madness, injustice against marginalised people, animal rights, the hypocrisy of traditional religion, belief in predestination—and getting away with murder.

Winner of the 2018 International Man Booker Prize.

Fleeting Snow by Pavel Vilikovsky
Fleeting Snow depicts the gradual loss of memory of the narrator’s wife. The narrator reminisces about his past life with his wife and muses on issues ranging from human nature and the soul, to names and the phonetics of Slovak and indigenous American Indian languages, in an informal, humorous style whose lightness of touch belies the seriousness of his themes. The title refers to its recurring central motif, an avalanche that cannot be stopped once the critical mass of snow has begun to roll, echoing the unstoppable process of memory loss.

 

Non-Fiction

Palaces for the People: How To Build a More Equal and United Society by Eric Klinenberg
How can we bring people together? In Palaces for the People the sociologist and best-selling author Eric Klinenberg introduces a transformative and powerfully uplifting new idea for health, happiness, safety and healing our divided, unequal society.

Too often we take for granted and neglect our libraries, parks, markets, schools, playgrounds, gardens and communal spaces, but decades of research now shows that these places can have an extraordinary effect on our personal and collective wellbeing. Why? Because wherever people cross paths and linger, wherever we gather informally, strike up a conversation and get to know one another, relationships blossom and communities emerge – and where communities are strong, people are safer and healthier, crime drops and commerce thrives, and peace, tolerance and stability take root.

Through uplifting human stories and an illuminating tour through the science of social connection, Palaces for the People shows that properly designing and maintaining this ‘social infrastructure’ might be our single best strategy for a more equal and united society.

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre 
If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation’s communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union’s top man in London, but from 1973 on he was secretly working for MI6. For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB, exposing Russian spies and helping to foil countless intelligence plots, as the Soviet leadership grew increasingly paranoid at the United States’s nuclear first-strike capabilities and brought the world closer to the brink of war. Desperate to keep the circle of trust close, MI6 never revealed Gordievsky’s name to its counterparts in the CIA, which in turn grew obsessed with figuring out the identity of Britain’s obviously top-level source. Their obsession ultimately doomed Gordievsky: the CIA officer assigned to identify him was none other than Aldrich Ames, the man who would become infamous for secretly spying for the Soviets.

Unfolding the delicious three-way gamesmanship between America, Britain, and the Soviet Union, and culminating in the gripping cinematic beat-by-beat of Gordievsky’s nail-biting escape from Moscow in 1985, Ben Macintyre’s latest may be his best yet. Like the greatest novels of John le Carré, it brings readers deep into a world of treachery and betrayal, where the lines bleed between the personal and the professional, and one man’s hatred of communism had the power to change the future of nations.

Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves
A Shetland Island Mystery (Volume 8).

Hoping for a fresh start, an English family moves to the remote Shetland islands, eager to give their autistic son a better life.

But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn beside their home, rumors of her affair with the husband spread like wildfire. As suspicion and resentment of the family blazes in the community, Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate. He knows it will mean his boss, Willow Reeves, returning to run the investigation, and confronting their complex relationship.

With families fracturing and long-hidden lies emerging, Jimmy faces the most disturbing case of his career.

Broken Ground by Val McDermid
When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past – until new evidence suggests otherwise, and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems.

It’s not long before an overheard conversation draws Karen into the heart of a different case, however – a shocking crime she thought she’d already prevented. As she inches closer to the twisted truths at the centre of these murders, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with a version of justice terrifyingly different to her own . . .

 

Children’s Picture Books

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

Winner of the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers
A Newbery Honor Book
A Caldecott Honor Book
A Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
A Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
An Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Book
An Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor Book
A Society of Illustrators Gold Medal Book

Square by Mac Barnett
This book is about Square. Square spends every day taking blocks from a pile below the ground to a pile above the ground. This book is also about Square’s friend Circle. Circle thinks Square is an artistic genius. But is he really? With the second story in a trilogy of tales about Triangle, Square, and Circle, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen nudge readers toward a more well-rounded way of looking at things. Understated and striking in its simplicity, this funny, thoughtful offering from two of today’s most talented picture-book creators emphasizes the importance of keeping your eyes — and your mind — open to wonder where others see only rubble and rocks.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty 
Inspired by real-like makers Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, this beloved #1 bestseller champions STEM, girl power and women scientists in a rollicking celebration of curiosity, the power perseverance, and the importance of asking “Why?”

Ada Twist’s head is full of questions. Like her classmates Iggy and Rosie—stars of their own New York Times bestselling picture books Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer—Ada has always been endlessly curious. Even when her fact-finding missions and elaborate scientific experiments don’t go as planned, Ada learns the value of thinking her way through problems and continuing to stay curious.

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty 
This beloved New York Times bestselling picture book is a fun-filled, inspiring story about the power of teamwork and the importance of celebrating individual gifts and self-expression.

Some kids sculpt sand castles. Some make mud pies. Some construct great block towers. But none are better at building than Iggy Peck, who once erected a life-size replica of the Great Sphinx on his front lawn! It’s too bad that few people appreciate Iggy’s talent—certainly not his second-grade teacher, Miss Lila Greer. It looks as if Iggy will have to trade in his T square for a box of crayons . . . until a fateful field trip proves just how useful a mast builder can be.

Samson: The Piranha Who Went to Dinner by Tadgh Bentley
A charming and funny story of friendship, fine dining, and being true to yourself.

Samson wasn’t like other piranhas. While other piranhas stayed close to home he wanted to explore the world. And while they stuck to the same old routine, swimming and chomping and scaring, Samson liked to try new things. Most of all, Samson dreamed of eating fine foods at fancy restaurants.

So when not one but THREE new restaurants come to his corner of the sea, Samson can’t wait to try them all. There’s only one problem: With their big teeth and scary smiles, piranhas aren’t really welcome anywhere, let alone in fancy restaurants. Can Samson make his dream come true—and still be himself?

The Mermaid And The Shoe by Keith Campbell
Each of King Neptune’s 50 mermaid daughters boasts a special talent, except for little Minnow, who seems to be good only at asking questions. When she finds a strange object, Minnow follows her questions to a wondrous place and finds answers, including the answer to the most important question of all: Who am I? A gorgeously illustrated story about finding one’s purpose.

Ninja! by Arree Chung
A ninja must be strong, courageous, and silent! He creeps through the house on a secret mission. There may be obstacles! But have no fear―a true ninja can overcome all challenges.

Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Bee-bim bop (the name translates as “mix-mix rice”) is a traditional Korean dish of rice topped, and then mixed, with meat and vegetables. In bouncy rhyming text, a hungry child tells about helping her mother make bee-bim bop: shopping, preparing ingredients, setting the table, and finally sitting down with her family to enjoy a favorite meal. The energy and enthusiasm of the young narrator are conveyed in the whimsical illustrations, which bring details from the artist’s childhood in Korea to his depiction of a modern Korean American family. Even young readers who aren’t familiar with the dish will recognize the pride that comes from helping Mama, the fun of mixing ingredients together in a bowl, and the pleasure of sharing delicious food. Includes author’s own recipe.

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian
Day One I swam around my bowl. Day Two I swam around my bowl. Twice. And so it goes in this tell-all tale from a goldfish. With his bowl to himself and his simple routine, Goldfish loves his life..until one day… When assorted intruders including a hyperactive bubbler, a grime-eating snail, a pair of amorous guppies, and a really crabby crab invade his personal space and bowl, Goldfish is put out, to say the least. He wants none of it, preferring his former peace and quiet and solitude. But time away from his new companions gives him a chance to rethink the pros and cons of a solitary life. And discover what he’s been missing.

The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater
An inquisitive fox sets off on a seafaring voyage with a crew of deer and pigeons in this enchanting tale of friendship and adventure.

Marco the fox has a lot of questions, like: how deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? And why do birds have such lizardy feet? But none of the other foxes share his curiosity. So when a magnificent ship adorned with antlers and with a deer for a captain arrives at the dock looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find foxes who are as inquisitive as he is that can answer his questions. The crew finds adventure and intrigue on their journey. And, at last, Marco finds the answer to his most important question of all: What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?