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  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2019/08/14 Permalink
    Tags: americanah, brown girl in the ring, chandler baker, chimamanda ngozi adichie, , , lisa taddeo, , meg ellison, nalo hopkinson, , paradise, , , rory power, the book of the unnamed midwife, , three women, , , whisper network, wilder girls   

    10 Books to Read After the Season Finale of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 

    Once you’re recovered from the roller coaster of emotions that was the season three finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, the long wait until season 4 will start to set in. What will you do with your Wednesday nights without cheering on the fall of Gilead? Here are 10 books (plus a bonus) we recommend to get you through the post-season slump.

    Vox, by Christina Dalcher
    One of the creepiest parts of the new season was (mild spoiler alert!) the violent way Handmaids were silenced during the Waterford’s visit to D.C. Vox‘s entire premise is based on the silencing of women, literally: allotted only 100 words per day and violently punished if they exceed it, women in this version of America have been robbed of their voices, their careers, and their dignity. But when one former cognitive linguist (aka, a badass lady scientist of words) is recruited by the higher echelon of the government to work on a cure for a Very Important Person’s brain injury impacting their speech, she decides that this (and her added allotment of words per day) is her opportunity to seek justice. Not just for her, but for her young daughter, who has grown up being silent, and her teenage son, whom she watches becoming more indoctrinated into this toxic system each day. A gripping read with twists and turns I never saw coming!

    Red Clocks, by Leni Zumas
    Some of the most gorgeous and brutal writing I’ve ever read is in this book. Three POVs are followed throughout the story: a single teacher who is afraid that if she doesn’t get pregnant soon, she’ll miss her window to have a child—since in this patriarchy-defined version of America, adoption is only allowed for married couples; a teenage girl dealing with an unplanned pregnancy; and an outcast woman living beyond the confines of modern society who becomes the target of a smear campaign when rumors run wild that she performs abortions. As the ticking clock of when additional restrictions will be placed on women runs down, these stories intersect in powerful and unexpected ways, making the reader question what it means to be a woman, a mother, and a friend.

    Whisper Network, by Chandler Baker
    A novel with a ripped-from-the-headlines premise (and recent Reese Witherspoon bookclub pick!), Whisper Network is all over everyone’s TBR. Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are bound together by their work for Truviv, Inc. But they become even more united when the CEO dies and their boss, Ames, is set to ascend into the role. The problem? Ames is the subject of many, many whispers. When these women decide to bring those shadowy accusations into the light, none of their lives will ever be the same. Not a dystopia, but sometimes reality can be even eerier when we look at the relationships between men and women in corporate America, and the cost of speaking truth to power.

    Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Another book where dystopia isn’t needed to show the impact of real toxic systems on real people, Americanah follows Ifemelu and Obinze, a couple in love, as they flee tyrannical Nigeria and attempt a life together in the West. But soon they are separated by forces beyond their control. Many years pass, and when they return to Nigeria— now democratized— they are different people, scarred by the ramifications of their individual lives in post 9/11 America and living undocumented in London. With searing, soaring prose and unforgettable characters, the harsh realities of being African, Black, Male, and Female are explored with great depth and authenticity.

    Paradise, by Toni Morrison
    One of the consistent critiques of The Handmaid’s Tale show is its handling of people of color, especially women. The great Toni Morrison is a necessary author to read to understand that for many PoC, this country is already a dystopia. Set in an all-black town in Oklahoma originally founded by former slaves, Paradise deals with events of harrowing violence, racism, abuse, and more. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, though, it focuses on the communities created by women, for women, in times of crisis, and with Morrison’s unforgettable, almost magical prose, its impact is indelible.

    Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo 
    A new non-fiction book thoroughly researched by author Lisa Taddeo (seriously, she talks in her introduction about how she moved to the towns as the women she was interviewing in order to become part of their communities!) Three Women has taken bookshelves by storm. It follows, as the title suggests, three individual women as they wrestle with sexual desire, trauma, the impact of sexism and misogyny, and more. Each of them feels trapped, in one way or another— usually because of the choices of men. The stories are true, but read like fiction: a woman who, as a teenager, had a Twilight-inspired affair with a married teacher; a restaurant owner who ‘swings’ with a dangerous partner; a mother unsatisfied with the lack of intimacy and sex with her husband. If nonfiction is usually a non-starter for you, consider giving this one a try.

    The Power, by Naomi Alderman
    Have you ever heard a woman say she always knows where men are on any given street she’s walking on…like she has eyes in the back of her head? Well, this book imagines that men might be the ones who have something to fear when teenage girls can torture and kill if they want to. Follow four perspectives of people whose lives are irrevocably altered when this power emerges, and remember the metaphor that Handmaid’s Tale also drives home: that the power for evil is certainly within us, and if provoked, we can unleash it.

    Wilder Girls, by Rory Power
    Speaking of teenage girls with incredible power, while this YA dystopian “retelling” of sorts is inspired by Lord of the Flies, I like this book for Handmaid’s Tale fans, too. A mysterious illness called The Tox has taken out many people in Heddy’s life, to the point where she and her still-uninfected friends can’t venture beyond the walls of their school for risk of coming into contact with it. That is, until someone close to her goes missing. Then, Heddy will unleash the wildness within her and venture into the dangerous beyond, no matter the cost. If whip-smart writing and a bit of body horror is your thing, check out Wilder Girls.

    Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson
    Imagine this: unlike in The Handmaid’s Tale, where Canada is a haven…in this novel, Toronto has fallen. Ruled with a tyrannical fist by a ruthless crime lord and rendered uninhabitable by the rest of society, the city is mostly disconnected from the outside world. People like the Black main character, Ti-Jeanne, are left to fend for themselves. Described by reviewers as “horror fantasy”, this book puts a woman of color at the center of a dangerous dystopia, giving her the ability to fight against the elements—including the father of her child, who has taken up with the very same crime lord who has destroyed the home she loves.

    The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, by Meg Ellison
    Since the Handmaids who aren’t pregnant on the show seem to function as midwives for the ones who are, a book about a midwife seemed appropriate to add to this list. Of course, it’s also a dystopia: the midwife is rendered irrelevant after a fever causes childbirth to become harmful to both mother and infant. But she’s still in danger, forced to travel under false names and disguised like a man…all with the hope of someday contributing to the rebirth of human society.

    The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
    I had to plug the highly anticipated sequel to the original The Handmaid’s Tale book, didn’t I? Not available until September, unfortunately, but if you breeze through this list, it will be here before you know it! The Testaments takes place 15 years after Offred’s final appearance in the book, and as Atwood says herself: everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Gilead is in it.

    What books are going to help tide you over until The Handmaid’s Tale returns?

    The post 10 Books to Read After the Season Finale of <i>The Handmaid’s Tale</i> Season 3 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 3:47 pm on 2019/02/26 Permalink
    Tags: , charles belfoure, chimamanda ngozi adichie, , eowyn ivey, , julia kelly, , , , , winter eascapes   

    Escape Your Everyday with These Book Haul Adventures from Around the Globe 

    Whether you’re bundling up against a chill wind or experiencing a flicker of spring, these books offer a perfect escape—and you can nab them for 50 percent off during Barnes & Noble’s Book Haul Blowout, from February 27 to March 4. Consider this your passport to Nigeria, France, Great Britain, China, the Caribbean, or the Alaskan wilderness, where you’ll lose yourself in the vivid stories of characters striving to make the most of their lives regardless of circumstance.

    The Leavers, by Lisa Ko 
    Lisa Ko’s debut novel The Leavers, a National Book Award finalist and winner of Barbara Kingsolver’s PEN/Bellweather Prize, presents a view of immigration that’s only grown more vital since the novel’s release in 2016. One day, 11-year-old Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, heads to her job at a nail salon in the Bronx and never comes back. Two white college professors eventually adopt Deming, move him to upstate New York, and rename him Daniel Wilkinson. But Deming never forgets his heritage or his mother as he searches for answers about the mystery of her disappearance.

    Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    In this multiple-award-winning first novel by the author of Americanah, Nigerian teenagers Kambili and her brother Jaja are pulled in two directions by their family members. At home in Enugu, they live under the thumb of their wealthy, domineering, religiously strict father, whose fierce domestic temperament belies the vital services he provides for the community. When the siblings are sent to visit their aunt in Nsukka, they learn there are other ways to live—ways that may offer fewer material comforts but don’t include bodily punishment and inconsistent messages. An immersive and emotional story that provides rich glimpses of Nigerian culture.

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See
    The bestselling, critically acclaimed author of Snow Flower and the Secret FanShanghai Girls, and China Dolls, See is beloved by readers for her depictions of female friendships and family relationships as seen through a Chinese American lens. Her latest novel is about an Akha ethnic minority girl, Li-yan, who lives in a small mountain village where tea is grown and harvested. She has a daughter out of wedlock whom she is pressured to abandon. The child is adopted by a Southern California family, but the bond between mother and daughter is never completely severed. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the richly rendered characters, who must navigate different cultures and customs—not just east and west, but urban and rural. Bonus: keep an eye out for See’s forthcoming The Island of Sea Women in March.

    The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure
    To paraphrase Rick in Casablanca, Lucien Barnard “sticks his neck out for nobody,” so when he’s asked to use his considerable architecture skills to create a “priest hole” (secret hiding spot) for a Jewish businessman in 1942 France, he’s reluctant to comply. After all, if he’s caught, the punishment could be death. Soon, however, the challenge of outsmarting the Nazis who have taken over Paris, not to mention the promise of a large payday, motivate him to do his best work. When that’s not enough to keep a child safe, Lucien’s long-dormant sense of responsibility to his fellow man rises to the surface in this compelling historical written by a real architect.

    The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel
    Harmel’s poignant novels always tug at the heartstrings, whether they concern the past (When We Meet Again), the present (The Life Intended), or both (The Sweetness of Forgetting). With Amelie, she whisks readers to occupied Paris in 1939, where three people’s lives converge: an American newlywed unsure if her marriage can last, a Jewish child fearful of deportation, and a British RAF pilot who has lost his mother to the Blitz and now finds himself cut off behind enemy lines.

    Light Over London, by Julia Kelly
    Set in London during two timelines—present day and the 1940s—this romantic and heartbreaking story connects two women during pivotal moments in their lives. Recently divorced, modern-day Cara Hargraves is instantly intrigued by the photograph and diary she finds while working at an antique shop. The diary’s author is Louise Keene, a small-town Cornish villager who became a “gunner girl” in World War II in an attempt to serve her country while staying close to Paul Bolton, the RAF pilot she loves (but whom her family dislikes). With her neighbor Liam’s help, Cara inches closer and closer to discovering what became of Louise and the enigmatic Paul, who harbors secrets of his own.

    Winter in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand
    Book one of the Paradise trilogy opens with a most un-relaxing phone call to ring in the new year: 50-something Irene is horrified to learn that her affectionate, jet-setting husband Russ’s body has washed ashore on the Caribbean island of St. John after a helicopter crash. Unbeknownst to Irene, who works as a magazine editor in the Midwest, Russ has been hiding a double life from her that includes a beachfront home and an apparent mistress. Driven to uncover the truth about her duplicitous spouse, Irene flies to St. John’s with her competitive adult sons, Baker and Dash. Fans of Hilderbrand’s Nantucket-set family dramas will feel right at home in this sun-kissed new locale.

    Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
    “She had imagined that in the Alaska wilderness silence would be peaceful, like snow falling at night, air filled with promise but no sound, but that was not what she found.” Jack and Mabel, homesteaders in the 1920s, originally moved to Alaska to escape their heartache over not being able to bear children. Despite their sadness, the couple’s relationship remains loving and strong, and after building a snow child on a whim, they’re stunned when a seemingly magical child enters their lives soon after. But the girl, Faina, who hunts with a fox by her side, may not be who or what she seems in this exquisite debut.

    The post Escape Your Everyday with These Book Haul Adventures from Around the Globe appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Tara Sonin 5:00 pm on 2018/03/09 Permalink
    Tags: , anita hill, , , , , children of blood and bone, chimamanda ngozi adichie, diary of anne frank, dread nation, erika l. sanchez, , , , , i am not your perfect mexican daughter, inspiring stories, , jessica spotswood, justina ireland, kate moore, , , , love hate and other filters, march forward girl, margot lee shetterly, meet cute, melba patillo beals, my beloved world, , , nicola yoon, , option b, piecing me together, , , renee watson, , , ruth bader ginsburg, samira ahmed, she persisted, sheryl sandberg, , sonia sotomayor, speaking truth to power, , , the radical element, the scarlett letter, ,   

    25 Must-Reads for Women’s History Month 

    It’s Women’s History Month, so to celebrate the women who have shaped our history, written characters we loved, lived lives we admired and learned from…here are twenty five books you should read this month!

    Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
    An essential collection of essays perfect for women’s history month reading about feminism in the modern world, all from the perspective of writer and activist Roxane Gay. The intersections of race, gender, body politics, and much more collide in a poignant, funny, and striking collection.

    Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
    Told through poetry, the story of an African American girl’s journey through adolescence stings with the remains of Jim Crow and follows her through the Civil Rights Movement. But it’s also the story of a writer coming into her own, learning the power of words, and overcoming a childhood struggle with reading.

    March Forward, Girl, by Melba Patillo Beals
    Another memoir about a courageous, young black girl living in a racist, segregated society, this one will inspire you to action in your own life. You may know of Melba Patillo Beals as one of the legendary Little Rock Nine, but her story begins before that…and leads her to a lifetime of resilience.

    I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sanchez
    Olga was perfect. She did everything her parents wanted. But then she died, and Julia has no chance of being the perfect Mexican daughter her sister was. That is, until she learns her sister may not have been so perfect after all. A story of family, Mexican culture, the American Dream, and much more.

    Hard Choices, by Hillary Clinton
    Not the memoir you expected, but an important one: one of history’s most influential women and former Secretary of State details her life experience in politics and during her time in the Obama administration.

    She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton
    Like mother, like daughter! Chelsea’s picture book about women throughout history who have persisted during difficult times is inspiring and informative. Learn the stories of women such as Ruby Bridges, who triumphed during the Civil Rights Movement; Helen Keller, who owned her identity as a disabled woman and refused to let others define her abilities; Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and the first black female billionaire, and more!

    Love Hate and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
    Another story about young women loving their families and yet, defying the cultures they come from. Maya wants to go to film school, live in New York, and be with a boy who isn’t Muslim. But her parents want the opposite. Can she reconcile the life they want for her with the life she wants for herself?

    My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor
    Yes, you need to read the book by the first Latina Supreme Court Justice! Sonia grew up in the projects in the Bronx and wound up on the most senior court in the land. How did she get there? By overcoming adversity, relying on family, and learning to love herself.

    My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    If there is a more incredible woman to learn from…well, we can’t finish that sentence, because there isn’t. RBG has seen it all, and in this collection of essays on everything from her early career, being a woman, the law, and much more, she shares her wisdom with us.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    The book that became a box office smash is a must-read. The story of the NASA mathematicians—and African-American women—who changed the face of the race to space was lost to time and whitewashed history. But now you can read about the brilliance and ambition of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine.

    Radium Girls by, Kate Moore
    A new product hit the market that people all across the country used for beauty and medicinal purposes. We now know this dangerous product for what it really is: radium, and while people were using it to make themselves more beautiful and healthier, the truth was glistening beneath the surface. When the girls working in the radium factories got sick, it exposed an industry’s dark underbelly of corruption, abuse, and more.

    The Radical Element, by Jessica Spotswood (and others)
    The subtitle of this anthology tells you everything you need to know: daredevils, debutants, and other dauntless girls throughout history finally have their stories told. From some of the best YA authors come twelve short stories about everything from girls secretly learning Hebrew in the US South, to living as a second-generation immigrant, and much more.

    Meet Cute, by Nicola Yoon, Nina Lacour, and other authors.
    Another anthology written by women! Why this for Women’s History Month, you ask? Because the stories touch all intersections of love: interracial relationships, trans love, bisexual love, and so much more.

    Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
    The haunting story of a girl’s innocence touched by the violence and hatred of the Third Reich has a message that still persists to this day: love one another, before it is too late.

    Shrill, by Lindy West
    For centuries, society has demanded women be small, warm, sexually open (but not too open), good mothers, good wives, smart but not too smart….the list goes on and on, but the one thing women are not supposed to be, is shrill. This memoir is about all the things women are, and more importantly, what we could be if we were set free.

    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    Starr is a girl living two lives: the one with her black family, in a neighborhood struggling with systemic racism, poverty, gang violence and police brutality…and as a student at a private school with white friends and a white boyfriend who are often insensitive when it comes to matters of race. But when her childhood best friend is maliciously gunned down by police, Starr bridges her two worlds with a message that all need to hear: black lives matter.

    We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Based on an essay by the same name, this book tackles the issue of feminism head on. Exploring everything from race and gender to sex and power dynamics, this incredible book is perfect for those just starting to break down the definition of feminism and how it applies to their lives.

    Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg
    When her husband died, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was faced with a choice: lose herself to her grief, or turn to option B and try to find a way forward. She chose the second option, but she did not do so alone. This book examines grief, and the multitude of ways human beings process it, and how to find happiness again “when option A is not available.”

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
    Don’t miss the unforgettable story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cells were taken from her during cancer treatment…and without her knowledge, consent, or compensation, provided essential information to cancer research. Those cells are still alive today, and in them, her legacy lives on.

    Speaking Truth to Power, by Anita Hill
    The #MeToo movement has had many starts and stops, and one of them was no doubt spurred by the testimony of Anita Hill, who alleged that her former boss—and Supreme Court Justice nominee—Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her. The message in this book rings loud and clear: to be a woman in a man’s world, you must get comfortable standing up for yourself and what you believe to be true.

    Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson
    To live the life she wants, Jade has to get out of her bad neighborhood…and its not enough that she already goes to a private school far away from home. But she’s not sure the way out is through the opportunities given to black girls from “at-risk” backgrounds, either. A moving portrait of living in systemic racism, about loving who you are, and wanting everything out of life.

    Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
    A fantasy inspired by the lore and culture of West Africa, this YA novel is one of the buzziest books of the year. Zéli’s mother was murdered, as were so many other maji, by a king who feared the magic they possessed. But now she has a chance to restore her kingdom to glory…if she can align herself with a princess, and outsmart a prince.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    This story of a family of women bonded while the patriarch of the family is off at war has lasted generations for its timeless message of love, sisterhood, and fighting for what you want in life.

    The Scarlett Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    The book that explored the stigma of the fallen women has inspired many stories since. Hester has been branded with a Scarlet A to wear on her clothing a symbol of her sin: having a child out of wedlock, and refusing to name the father.

    Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
    Jane McKeene was born during the Civil War…but when zombies start rising from the dead, the war becomes something else entirely. Indigenous and black kids are forced to learn how to eradicate the monsters. This one publishes in April, but you should pre-order it for Women’s History Month today.

    What books are you reading in honor of Women’s History Month?

    The post 25 Must-Reads for Women’s History Month appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2017/03/15 Permalink
    Tags: brief encounters, chimamanda ngozi adichie, , , , ,   

    10 Writers Who Played a Key Role in the Rise of the Short Story 

    Novelists seem to get all the hype. The short story was once considered just as important as the novel—think Hemingway or Chekhov—but at some point, there just didn’t seem to be a market for short fiction any more. But recently, that’s begun to change. New technology, shorter attention spans, and a wave of films adapted from short works—there’s no shortage of theories as to why the short story is suddenly Having a Moment. The easiest theory of all is that there are more talented writers working in the form than ever—a theory we can prove right here and now: below, find 10 incredible modern-day writers who do a lot with fewer words.

    George Saunders (Check out: Tenth of December)
    Saunders has been quietly spinning out off-center, darkly layered stories for decades. Now that his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is a number one bestseller, it’s like the wider world is waking up to his talent—but anyone who has read “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” knows that no one turns a preposterous premise on its face into a disturbing and affecting story like him.

    Stephen King (Check out: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
    Stephen King has been writing for so long, he’s practically an American Institution, and while he’s best-known as a novelist, he got his start selling short stories to disreputable magazines and has never lost his love for the form—or his talent for it. King’s stories cover a wide range of genres, but their strength is always in their characterization. No matter what’s happening, you believe it, because the characters feel so real.

    Alice Munro (Check out: Dear Life)
    Munro has been referred to as the Canadian Chekhov; she won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature after a career spent writing stories that combine a rock-solid sense of place with an omniscient narrator, allowing her to play with time in ways that will influence writers for centuries to come. She’s also known for her habit of publishing variants of her already-published stories, a meta technique that allows her to play with time even after the story is supposedly finished.

    Lydia Davis (Check out: The Collected Stories)
    The term “flash fiction” refers to extremely short works—often less than 1,000 words. Davis is the form’s modern master, regularly penning powerful stories just a few sentences long. Writing stories that can be reprinted in full in a Tumblr post is much, much harder than it seems, and the effect of reading a collection of her stories can be dizzying—in a good way.

    Jennifer Egan (Check out: A Visit from the Goon Squad)
    Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book is actually a series of loosely-connected short stories, leading some to argue over whether it’s a novel at all. Since all the stories stand on their own, it’s a collection—but it’s also a revolutionary approach to a longer story. If these stories had been written and published over decades no one would think twice—but having them all together, and reading them one after the other, allows Egan to build something greater than the sum of its parts.

    Kelly Link (Check out: Magic for Beginners)
    Kelly Link’s work is almost impossible to categorize; while some of her stories are definitively science fiction, most fit any number of genre labels, requiring the employment of more diffuse  like “slipstream” or “magical realism.” All you need to know is that her award-winning work is profoundly inventive and entertaining; the title story in Magic for Beginners, for example, centers on a teenager who is both a huge fan of and a main character on a TV show called “The Library,” with the story being told through various episodes of the series.

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Check out: The Thing Around Your Neck)
    Born in Nigeria, Adichie might be best-known to most for her novel Americanah, recent winner of the One Book, One New York campaign. But she is also a poet, an essayist, and one of the best short story writers on the planet. The stories in The Thing Around Your Neck beautifully blend issues between the genders, between the United States and Africa, and between members of families. The end result is a dazzling tapestry of life, told from a fresh perspective.

    Junot Diaz (Check out: This is How You Lose Her)
    Diaz, creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but his short fiction deserves just as much attention. The stories in This is How You Lose Her are simple on the surface: tales of love from various stages of relationships and various points of view. The reason they dig in and stay with you is the sense they convey that there is a line connecting them to each other, and, in a sense, to every other story ever told.

    Ted Chiang (Check Out: Stories of Your Life)
    Chiang is one of the best writers working in science fiction today, period. He’s won the Nebula, Hugo, and Sturgeon Awards, and his “Story of Your Life” served as the source material for theblockbuster film Arrival. Chiang’s mastery of language allows him to play with reader’s expectations in a way so elegant and powerful, it’s almost magic.

    Kevin Barry (Check out: Dark Lies the Island)
    Kevin Barry somehow conveys a sense of Kevin Barry-ness to his fiction, imbuing himself into his stories in ways few other writers could pull off without seeming overly forceful. His work sizzles with the overt confidence he exudes in his public appearances, but rather than being off-putting, his surety invites you to come along for the ride, with him as your guide, whispering hilarious things into your ear.

    The post 10 Writers Who Played a Key Role in the Rise of the Short Story appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2015/05/29 Permalink
    Tags: adelle waldman, amanda filipacchi, chimamanda ngozi adichie, , , ,   

    The Most Disastrous Dinner Parties in Fiction 

    Dinner parties follow different rules for the hosts and the guests. For the hosts, the best party is one no one will remember a week from tonight because everything went well. For the guests, such successes are terribly boring, and the best parties are invariably the ones where at least one thing goes disastrously—those are the parties we talk about for years to come.

    It’s the same in literature. When an author assembles their characters for an evening, the reader begins to anticipate the lovely disasters to come, and is disappointed when it’s just a lot of dull chat and decent grub—much like any party we might actually attend in real life. Boring! So to celebrate the non-boring, very memorable parties we all wish we’d been invited to, here’s your definitive list of the five most disastrous dinner parties in literature.

    The Dinner, by Herman Koch
    Like any good dinner party, this brilliant novel starts off slow and pleasant. People make small talk, are friendly and cheerful—and then, slowly, the true reason these two couples are meeting is revealed: their children have done something terrible, and while the act was caught on video, no one has identified them yet. As the families discuss how to handle the situation, revelations spin out of control, and Koch begins piling up the twists and turns until the emotions explode off the page. If some of the secrets that come out stretch our belief slightly, well, again: isn’t that how the best parties always end?

    The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, by Adelle Waldman
    Dinner is a theme running throughout this unabashedly hip and literary novel. Not only does the title character meet the woman who will occupy his time and thoughts for the remainder of the novel, Hannah, at a disastrous dinner party thrown by his ex-girlfriend (a darkly hilarious scene right at the beginning of the story that sets the tone in every way), dinner comes up again and again as Hannah and Nate explore their growing relationship. At one point, Nate ruminates on the constant pressure to make conversation during dinner, a symbol for all he finds irritating in the world. The book features one dinner party sequence in particular, and it’s a doozy, but in some ways the whole story is one long disastrous meal.

    The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, by Amanda Filipacchi
    If you dread dinner parties because they can be awkward, and require you to work very, very hard to make conversation and get along with the other guests, this book will have you twitching in sympathetic horror. A story that somehow brilliantly combines ruminations on physical beauty with a murder mystery and some of the most sparkling dialogue of the last few years, the dinner party scene in which friends torture a man for his lack of interest in one of the main characters—while simultaneously attempting to protect him from impending murder—is both hilarious and deliciously awkward. Reading the scene you will make laugh out loud, and feel relieved when it’s over. The whole novel is great, but the dinner party scene could easily be staged as a short film all by itself, which would probably win awards.

    Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    If you’ve ever been at a dinner party and felt like an outsider, the only person who doesn’t share the wrongheaded politics of your host and fellow guests, the brilliant party scenes in Americanah will resonate even if you don’t know what it’s like to be a Nigerian refugee making a new life in a new country. In two key scenes the main characters, pursuing different fates even as they remain bound by an unbreakable connection, find themselves facing well-off and well-meaning liberals who give lip service to all the right ideas, yet understand nothing about the reality of the situation. Awkward, tense, and gripping, these scenes are among the strongest in a phenomenal novel.

    The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick
    Quick’s funny and heartbreaking (and ultimately inspiring) novel has a crackling energy throughout, but never more so than in the awful dinner party thrown in order for Pat and Tiffany, two people no one knows what to do with, to meet. Pat, so deeply in denial he doesn’t even realize how off-putting his behavior is, creates sparks with Tiffany, whose anger almost burns the pages—but they’re not (yet) the right kind of sparks. If you’ve ever had the sense the hosts of a party are split on whether or not the guests are actually welcome, you’ll recognize the tension running through this scene, and appreciate the dark humor Quick mines from it.

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