Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson (Top Shelf in February!)
“Shylock Is My Name, Howard Jacobson’s reimagining of The Merchant of Venice for the 21st century, is the second installment of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, in which many of today’s greatest writers will put their own spin on Shakespeare’s plays. The series launched last fall, with The Gap of Time, Jeannette Winterson’s take on The Taming of the Shrew. I’m not too far in to My Name is Shylock so far, but already, the ever-satirical Jacobson has peppered the text with risque jokes, introduced the theory that Shakespeare was originally a Shapiro, and summed up his entire style of writing in this quote attributed to Beaumarchais: ‘I hasten to laugh at everything for fear I might be obliged to weep at it.’”— Molly
From the former Spin and Vibe editor-in-chief comes a biography of incandescent soul icon and activist Nina Simone that explores the many facets of the complicated and gifted woman. He excavates her lifelong passion for classical music and painful rejection, along with her soaring success as a soul singer and the stresses put upon her as an African American pushing against the tide of racial discrimination.
Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau (speaking & signing Wednesday, 2/10 at 7PM)
“Every Anxious Wave is equal parts fun thrill ride and emotional character study. When Karl Bender discovers a wormhole in his bar, he uses it to transport himself and others to legendary concerts of the past. But when his best friend ends up stuck in a different century, his life is forever altered when he recruits physicist Lena Geduldig to help him. Daviau understands how much music affects our memory, and how our past in turn affects our ability to connect with people. The novel is a strong, empathetic exploration of love and friendship, with a dose of time travel to really make the reader reflect.” — Consuelo
Morning Star by Pierce Brown (speaking & signing Sunday, 2/14)
“A masterfully built world in which we can see amplified reflections of our own, Pierce Brown has set a fierce and brutal story of rebellion and growth. I had an opportunity recently to read from Red Rising through Golden Son to Morning Star and it was an adrenaline rush and a half! Also, I cried. If you crossed Hunger Games with Ender’s Game, added a dash of George RR Martin on a good day, with inspiration from classic Latin literature, you kind of scratch the surface of this great new addition to sci-fi…Morning Star neatly (and by neatly, I mean the body count explodes) wraps up the trilogy beautifully with Brown’s signature twists and edge of the seat encounters! Overall a really fantastic trilogy, I definitely recommend!” — Tomoko
Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey
Deep in gambling debt, the celebrated Brazilian writer Beatriz Yagoda is last seen holding a suitcase and a cigar and climbing into an almond tree. She abruptly vanishes. Her American translator Emma hears the news and flies immediately to Brazil. There, in the sticky, sugary heat of Rio, Emma and her author’s children conspire to solve the mystery of Yagoda’s curious disappearance and staunch the colorful demands of her various outstanding affairs, including the rapacious loan shark with a zeal for severing body parts.
The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray
In his ambitious and fiercely inventive new novel, The Lost Time Accidents, John Wray takes us from turn-of-the-century Viennese salons buzzing with rumors about Einstein’s radical new theory to the death camps of World War Two, from the golden age of postwar pulp science fiction to a startling discovery in a Manhattan apartment packed to the ceiling with artifacts of modern life. Haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar ‘Waldy’ Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time. The world continues to turn, and Waldy is desperate to find his way back-a journey that forces him to reckon not only with the betrayal at the heart of his doomed romance but also the legacy of his great-grandfather’s fatal pursuit of the hidden nature of time itself.
Outline by Rachel Cusk (now in paperback)
On of the New York Time’s Top 10 Books of 2015. Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.
The Heart by Maylis De Keranga, translated from the French by Sam Taylor
Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. Returning home, exhausted, the driver lets the car drift off the road into a tree. One boy is sent through the windshield. He is declared brain-dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. His heart is still beating. The Heart takes place over the 24 hours surrounding a fatal accident and a resulting heart transplant as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death. It examines the deepest feelings of everyone involved–grieving parents, hardworking doctors and nurses–as they navigate decisions of life and death
Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer
A daring, kaleidoscopic novel about the clash of empires and ideas, told through a tennis match in the sixteenth century between the radical Italian artist Caravaggio and the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo, played with a ball made from the hair of the beheaded Anne Boleyn. Alvaro Enrigue s mind-bending story features assassinations and executions, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bawdy criminals, carnal liaisons and papal schemes, artistic and religious revolutions, love and war. A blazingly original voice and a postmodern visionary, Enrigue tells the grand adventure of the dawn of the modern era, breaking down traditions and upending expectations, in this bold, powerful gut-punch of a novel.