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  • BN Editors 2:00 pm on 2020/01/21 Permalink
    Tags: american dirt, , jeanine cummins, oprah's book club,   

    The B&N Podcast: Jeanine Cummins on American Dirt 

    Lydia Pérez is an ordinary bookseller in Acapulco, Mexico, when an article by her journalist husband makes her family a target for a drug cartel. In an instant, Lydia and her family become migrants, fleeing for their lives. Their story is the center of Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt a powerful and often harrowing story of love, sacrifice, and hope. John Grisham, Stephen King, and Oprah Winfrey are all talking about this timely novel that features an unforgettable mother and son at its heart. Our booksellers can’t stop thinking about American Dirt either, which is why we’ve made it our February 2020 Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick. The author sat down with B&N’s Miwa Messer to take us behind the making of this propulsive story.


    ambién de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

    Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

    Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

    Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

    American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

    Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

     

    Like this podcast? Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to discover intriguing new conversations every week.

    The post The B&N Podcast: Jeanine Cummins on American Dirt appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 1:30 pm on 2018/06/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , oprah's book club   

    Oprah’s New Book Club Pick Is an Unforgettable Story of Faith, Hope, and Justice 

    The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin, is the unforgettable and inspiring true story of a wrongly convicted man who survived solitary confinement on death row for more than three decades—and it’s the latest pick of the Oprah Book Club.

    Thirty-three years ago, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested.

    The charges: Capital murder. Two counts.

    Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted and sentenced to death via electrocution.

    But he was innocent.

    Anthony Ray Hinton’s nightmare begins with a horrible case of mistaken identity; he knew he was innocent, and believed it was only a matter of time until the mistake was uncovered and he was released. But the judicial system didn’t believe him. Living under a system with a separate standard for poor black men, the truth was not enough to set twenty-nine-year-old Hinton free.

    The Sun Does Shine is, ultimately, a triumphant example of a man reclaiming own life, as best he can under horrific circumstances. Hinton’s first three years on death row were marked by silence, anger, and despair. But then he made a decision, to not only accept his fate on death row, but to live on death row. And that’s when this becomes a remarkable story of acceptance, fortitude, compassion—and humor.

    This is also the story of our country’s deeply flawed judicial system—separate and not equal—and the realities of systemic racial bias and its deep impact on all of us. Hinton is one of “the longest-serving condemned prisoners facing execution in America to be proved innocent and released,” according to Bryan Stevenson, the attorney who worked to secure Hinton’s freedom. (Stevenson is also the bestselling author of Just Mercy, and wrote the foreword to The Sun Does Shine.)

    The Sun Does Shine is a thoughtful and deeply emotional book that’s sure to spark conversation, which makes it a terrific book club pick. As you’ll see in the exclusive clip below, featuring the author and Oprah Winfrey, Anthony Ray Hinton’s story is a powerful one, full of faith, hope, and love.

    The Sun Does Shine is on sale now.

    The post Oprah’s New Book Club Pick Is an Unforgettable Story of Faith, Hope, and Justice appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 4:30 pm on 2017/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , oprah's book club   

    5 Things You Need to Know about the New Oprah’s Book Club Selection, Behold the Dreamers 

    When you’re living in an age of Peak Entertainment, there’s one big problem: choice. Having too many fantastic books to read is a much better problem than having too few, but it also means deciding what to spend your time on can be difficult. Thank goodness, then, for Oprah’s Book Club, which has once again descended from the literary heavens to help us choose.

    The latest pick for Oprah Book Club, announced today, is perhaps the perfect novel for this moment in time. Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers is a tale of the immigrant experience in America, a novel concerning the 1%, income inequality, and the housing bubble and Wall Street’s culpability in it, and it showcases a broad range of human relationships. It has been hailed as perhaps the first great 21st-century American novel, and in our current political environment it might be the most necessary piece of fiction you’ll read this year.

    If (as if) Oprah’s imprimatur isn’t enough to convince you, here are five things you need to know about Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers.

    1. Mbue writes from experience
    Behold the Dreamers is about Jende Jonga and his wife, Neni, who move from Cameroon to the United States in 2007, seeking what all immigrants once sought in this country: a better life. Jende parlays intelligence, enthusiasm, and liberal doses of self-hype into a job as a chauffeur to Clark Edwards, a high-level executive at Lehman Brothers. The Edwards also find work for Neni, and it seems like the Jonga family has a firm foothold in the American Dream. And then, of course, the economic crash of 2008 hits, and in short order the American economy is in chaos—and Lehman Brothers ceases to exist, sending Jende and Neni into a panic over their jobs.

    Mbue, herself a native of Cameroon, came to the U.S. in 1998 in order to attend school. Taking night courses, she earned a Masters degree in education and psychology at Columbia University while working a series of jobs: receptionist at a dental office, bank teller, dishwasher, lingerie saleswoman at Nordstrom, and door-to-door vacuum-cleaner saleswoman. Once out of school she found a job doing market research, and when the economy went bad in 2009 she decided not to give up that job to pursue a Ph.D.—only to be laid off.

    2. The book has been big news since before its publication
    Behold the Dreamers first made headlines back in 2014, when it sold to Random House for seven figures—and then sold film rights to TriStar. Back then it was titled The Longings of Jende Jonga, and it was already one of those novels people in publishing circles whispered about.

    Of course, plenty of books that get talked about fail to live up to the hype—but Behold the Dreamers has. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award, was named a New York Times Notable Book, was longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award, and made it onto many “best of” lists.

    3. It’s more complicated than the summary makes it sound
    While the book focuses on two recent immigrants and their pursuit of the American Dream, this is a quintessentially American story. If you’re imagining a two-dimensional 1% vs. 99% story in which the Clarks—rich, white, complicit—are villains and the Jongas are unalloyed heroes, prepare yourself for a much subtler, more nuanced book. Mbue manages to make her characters human. The Clarks, often painfully unaware of their privilege and their blind spots, are depicted as decent people battling their own demons, trying in their way to do good. The Jongas are hardworking, good-hearted people—who nevertheless struggle with their own frailties and shortcomings. Mbue isn’t offering a simplistic story, but rather a deep investigation into what it means to be American today.

    4. It offers a necessary perspective on class
    Many celebrated novels that deal in class in America are told from the perspective of relatively affluent people, but Mbue tells hers from the point of view of the Jongas, who live in a small, dark, roach-infested Harlem apartment. For the Jongas the economic downturn isn’t a distantly threatening event, but a clear and present danger that may destroy everything they’ve worked for, underscoring how little security and safety immigrants have in this country—a situation that is steadily getting worse.

    5. Jende Jonga is a great and complicated character
    One of Mbue’s sly bits of genius in this book is that Jende, our protagonist, is not a flatly sympathetic hero: he and his wife both engage in dangerous self-deception, as well as plain old deception. On the one hand their regard for America and the opportunity it represents is almost religious, and on the other Jende is a bit of a Don Quixote, puffing up his achievements—he tells people he works “on Wall Street” and struts about with a briefcase, playing the big shot. He’s wonderfully rich and fully developed, warts and all.

    The post 5 Things You Need to Know about the New Oprah’s Book Club Selection, Behold the Dreamers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Monique Alice 12:40 pm on 2016/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , glennon doyle melton, , , , oprah's book club   

    Oprah Names a New Nonfiction Book Club Selection 

    Glennon Doyle Melton has unleashed a memoir of epic proportions with Love Warrior. This is the latest book from the Internet sensation, who, since beginning her blog in 2009, has steadily asserted herself as the online voice of an entire generation of mothers. After gaining a groundswell of popularity through her funny, relatable, and vulnerable blog, Melton published her first book, Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, in 2014. The book shot to the top of bestsellers’ lists and received loads of acclaim from everyone from Brené Brown to Meredith Vieira. Two short years later, Love Warrior seems destined to surpass its predecessor, having already earned the honor of Oprah’s Nonfiction Book Club selection.

    In Love Warrior, Melton devotees will recognize her trademark blend of warmth, honesty, and unflinching truth. Where Carry On, Warrior centered mostly on motherhood, Love Warrior turns its focus onto marriage and what it means for two people to build a life together. Between her ex-model husband, three beautiful children, and a writing career that was rocketing through the stratosphere, Melton’s life and marriage looked picture-perfect. But, as she shares in Love Warrior, she was struggling underneath it all to truly know herself and the man to whom she’d been married for over a decade.

    The simple version of Love Warrior is: husband cheats, wife embarks on a quest to find herself. The real story, however, is so much deeper than that. In an attempt to make sense of her present, Melton circles back to her past. She begins with her near-perfect childhood, goes on to an adolescence pockmarked with self-doubt, and lands in a young adulthood besieged by bulimia, alcoholism, and vacant, soul-crushing sex. She leads us by the hand through the darkest hours of her life, when even her parents seemed ready to wash their hands of her and her priest treated her with derision.

    Melton is so completely honest in the rendering of her own desperation and self-disdain that the reader is struck with a yearning to climb through the page and lead her by the shoulders to a warm place and a hot meal. Her rock bottom is palpable—striking in its wretchedness, yet still relatable. Glennon Doyle Melton did not fit many people’s idea of a lost soul; she never sold her body for drugs, she wasn’t homeless, and she always held down a job. Melton is also purposeful in outlining her picket-fence childhood and uneventful, albeit painful, teen years. She seems to say pointedly that there is no easy origin story for her personal demons—nor was she, at her worst, a caricature of a person run off the rails. From the outside looking in, she appeared to be a perfectly functional, intelligent, attractive young woman with a loving family and a good education. Inside, though, she was drowning in pain, loneliness, terror—that moonshine-and-motor-oil cocktail that is the dark side of being alive.

    All of that changed on Mother’s Day, 2001, when Melton found herself staring down the barrel of a positive pregnancy test. Facing the prospect of motherhood, Melton chose to look her demons squarely in the eye for the first time. She began the long, hard road toward recovery from bulimia and alcoholism, and she and her then-boyfriend made the decision to wed and start their family. Through the intervening years, Melton paid her dues on the altar of mommy-dom—as anyone who has read her blog can attest. She and her husband were like so many couples with young children—two ships in the night, volleying babies and poopy diapers and soccer carpool schedules, often without making direct eye contact. It was a struggle, sure—but one in which the dividends far outweighed the cost. Until, that is, Melton’s husband dropped the bomb on her: he had been sleeping with other women.

    In the wake of this truth-telling, Melton doubles back to the work of self-discovery that had previously saved her from the trenches of despair. She digs deep, sparing nothing and no one from the high-powered beam of her soul searchlight. During the ensuing journey, she learns that she and her husband have each run from pain in their own unique ways. She learns about how she has continued to avoid the terrifying depth of her emotions—no longer through food or alcohol, perhaps, but through a simple failure to be present with herself and the ones she loves the most. Like a child learning how to walk, Melton sets out on unsteady legs to reclaim her life. She seeks healing and solace from community, family, and, most of all—from her true self. 

    More than simply a memoir about marriage, Love Warrior is what the title suggests: a manifesto for a fight. It is a fight that so many of us will face—against addiction, against fear, and against the desire of a wounded soul to protect itself by shutting out the light. Glennon Doyle Melton reminds each of us that we have, deep inside, a soldier who will fight for hope, for truth, and for love—if only we are brave enough to invite her into the world.

    Love Warrior is on shelves now.

     
  • Ester Bloom 6:30 pm on 2016/08/02 Permalink
    Tags: American Fiction, , , , , , , oprah's book club   

    Colson Whitehead Takes The Underground Railroad From Metaphor to Devastating Reality 

    In the midst of this never-ending election, America is focused on either accepting or rejecting the notion that the country needs to be made great “again.” Meanwhile, some enterprising souls have wondered, When was America great? As recently as the 1950s? As long ago as the 1780s? Of one thing we can be sure, thanks to Colson Whitehead’s searing new novel about a young woman who escapes a Georgia cotton plantation: it was not the 1830s.

    The Underground Railroad, just named the latest Oprah’s Book Club selection, is a guided tour through the worst of American history. It makes brief detours to West Africa and aboard slave ships, but for the most part, it begins in the deep South, travels up to the Carolinas, and goes West to Indiana. Whitehead’s protagonist, Cora, initially escapes in the company of Caesar, a young man who is her equal in resilience and determination. Both have suffered. Both know they will suffer far more vividly if they are caught, especially since the man chasing them is a sadistic professional tracker named Ridgeway.

    Although the flap copy compares The Underground Railroad to Gulliver’s Travels, Whitehead’s book reads more like the American answer to Les MisérablesLike Victor Hugo’s 19th-century epic, Railroad follows a survivor who wants nothing more revolutionary than her own freedom. She tries to escape a man who is relentless in his pursuit of her. Whitehead uses Cora’s story to indict a society built on the injustice of the idea that an entire population of people like Cora is somehow biologically, morally, and intellectually subhuman.

    But while Hugo puts faith in, well, faith, embracing Christianity as a corrective to the meanness of man, Whitehead’s characters are not redeemed by religion. The cruelties visited upon characters like Fantine and Cosette pale in comparison to those Whitehead depicts. In many cases, those cruelties are even administered by people who consider themselves Christians, and think their actions are justified by the Good Book.

    In this world, the average American is not innocent. The average American is complicit: in clearing the deep South of Native Americans via malice and massacre, and then in farming that stolen land using labor stolen from people who were, themselves, stolen from their own land across the sea.

    Whitehead’s 19th-century America is a colder, more brutal place than even Hugo’s 19th-century France. But though the end result is bracing, it’s not overdone. It’s history, unwhitewashed, and that can be hard to take in, but Whitehead leavens his creation with a dash of hope, some humor, and just enough characters who aren’t sinister, callous, or bloodthirsty. Then he lets just enough of those characters survive.

    Still, those characters, like Caesar and Cora, who live up to the royal nature of their names and whose fierceness and intelligence keep them going no matter what, are liable to break your heart. At one point, in South Carolina, Cora hears the word “optimism.”

    Cora didn’t know what optimism meant. She asked the other girls that night if they were familiar with the word. None of them had heard it before. She decided that it meant trying.

    This woman was born into the bleakest kind of bondage and was never taught that she deserved anything: not liberty, not the pursuit of happiness, not even her own life. But she stays hopeful, anyway. Keeps moving. Keeps trying.

    Over his years as one of America’s most imaginative, capable authors of literary fiction, Whitehead has become known for writing stories that tweak the circumstances of everyday life. The worlds he describes are grounded in reality, but they grow in unexpected directions, toward elevator-related mysteries or zombies. In The Underground Railroad, the tweak is the railroad itself: instead of being a metaphor, it is an actual network of tracks running like a hidden subway from South to North and back again, serviced by a few devoted eccentrics who, even when threatened with torture and death, refuse to condone a status quo of slavery.

    Because of those engineers, the reader cannot entirely despair, even of a society in which a weekly lynching is considered family fun. Like trains, Caesar and Cora may stall, but even in hellish darkness, they keep pushing forward, hoping that, at the next station, or the next, they may finally find freedom, or at least light.

     
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