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  • Tara Sonin 2:00 pm on 2019/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , family sagas, , , from screen to page, , , , , , queens of innis lear, rich people problems, ross poldark, , the dinner, the divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood, , the leavers, , the next, , the stationary shop   

    21 Books to Read for Fans of HBO’s Succession 


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    The second season of HBO’s Succession is in full swing, and I’m absolutely obsessed. The Roy family saga is one of constant undermining, financial deceit, cozying up to power, and lots and lots of secrets. But who would expect anything less from a story about a media mogul’s duplicitous attempts to secure his family dynasty and the ill-advised actions of his three children? If you love the show, here are twenty-one books full of family drama across all genres you might want to check out.

    Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane
    Which moment was it, that defined the Gleeson and Stanhope families? Was it when they moved to the same neighborhood? When their children, Kate and Peter, became friends? Was it when Anne, Peter’s mother, started to suffer from mental illness, or when his father struggled with alcoholism? Or was it what came after, when a devastating incident of violence forces the two families apart and only the next generation can start to heal the wounds that came before? A triumphant novel about how individual people often are lost in the claustrophobia of family, and how the mistakes of the past can either condemn or liberate the next generation.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    When they were children, the Golds visited a psychic who claimed she could pinpoint the day they would die. It is the end of the 60’s and their entire lives are in front of them. After hearing the prophecies of their eventual demises, each of the children responds in differing extremes: Simon comes out as gay and finds love in San Francisco; Klara finds solace in magic and a family; Daniel joins the military; and Varya becomes a scientist determined to outsmart time itself. The novel follows each child on their journey, wrestling with whether the fate they were given is one they deserve, one that was destined, or one they should have attempted to escape.

    Flowers in the Attic, by VC Andrews
    After a terrible tragedy, four children are locked in an attic, presumably for their own protection—and that of their inheritance. Alone in their grandmother’s house with infrequent visits from their mother, the children must turn to one another in order to survive—even if the consequences are a forbidden love. Money, secrets, scandal and romance combine in this classic start to the Dollanganger series. If you didn’t read this family drama as a teenager when your parents thought you were asleep, then you should definitely try to emulate that experience when the 40th anniversary edition publishes this fall!

    Ross Poldark, by Winston Graham
    Ok, fans of another TV show should be familiar with this one, but there are so many similar elements to Succession in Poldark that I had to include it! Sure, it takes place after the Revolutionary War in Cornwall, Britain and not modern-day America, but— there’s a family feud that ends in bloodshed, new money vs. old money, forbidden love, and one man holding onto hope that he can make a better life for his family in an era that seems poised to make him falter. Money is largely the enemy, because it is what enables the Warleggans, the primary villains, to enact their spite and hatred on the Poldark family.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    A multi-generational epic about the Buendía family, beginning with their founder, José Arcadio Buendía, who founded the fictional town of Macondo in Colombia. Lush descriptions infused with magical realism makes this one an intimidating selection for high schoolers (which is when I read it the first time), but it deserves returning to again and again. The story begins, and is punctuated throughout, with violence: a man and his wife flee their home after a murder, and everything that happens after seems rooted in the haunting lack of justice for that original sin. History repeats itself over and over throughout seven generations, and the ghosts of Buendías past watch as their descendants perpetuate their own mistakes.

    Fleishman is In Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
    Toby Fleishman is getting a divorce. He thinks. It’s not super clear right now, because his wife may have gone completely off the grid, leaving him to raise their two kids alone. This sharp examination of marriage, masculinity, and motherhood written from the perspective of one of Toby’s friends from high school as she watches him try to juggle single parenthood and her own marriage teeters on the edge of imploding. It is less of a sweeping an epic and more of an intimate drama, where every single line of dialogue and observation serves a purpose, leading to a fitting ending.

    Commonwealth, by Anne Patchett
    When Bert shows up at Franny Keating’s christening and unexpectedly kisses her mother, the ramifications spiral throughout two marriages and the generation that follows. The story eventually jumps forward in time to Franny’s twenties, when she makes a decision that, like that kiss, will also have unforeseen consequences: she tells a famous writer the story of her blended family, and he decides to profit from it. I love how this story directly confronts not only how a single action can reverberate through the ages, but how a story itself can do the same.

    The Leavers, by Lisa Ko
    Another inter-generational story where a single action has a lifetime of consequences, this time about a Chinese American boy and his mother, Polly, who suddenly vanishes without a trace. Deming is only eleven when this happens, and he spends the rest of his childhood and early adulthood in a state of looming and receding turmoil. Even though he is adopted by two white middle-class academics and has what most would describe as a “good life”, the scars of his mother’s abandonment never fade. As the novel traces his journey, it follows Polly’s as well, crossing the ocean to China, where her story began.

    The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
    Succession is about the legacy of a domineering, abusive father on his two sons and daughter—but mothers leave an indelible imprint on their children as well, a dynamic explored in this by-now classic story of friendship, family, and how the fractures in those relationships can alter the future. When Siddalee and her mother, Vivi, get into a fight over the differences in their perception of events from when Sidda was young, Vivi’s friends (aka, the Ya-Yas) intervene to reunite them.

    The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    Perhaps the most similar to the show that inspired this list (they even share a scandal in common), this novel features a wealthy family fighting over an inheritance. Leo Plumb was just released from rehab after a devastating tragedy when, under the influence, he caused an accident with an innocent passenger. His actions means that he, and his siblings Melody, Beatrice, and Jack might not receive their  trust fund after years of waiting for it. It’s money that everyone needs with varying levels of desperation, believing that it can rewrite the past and protect the future. Sweeney’s characters are inherently flawed and entirely relatable, with prose that is both effervescent with humor and laden with dread.

    The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo
    Four women—four sisters—struggle to come into their own in the looming shadow of their parents’ seemingly epic romance. Set in Chicago and its suburbs, this uniquely American saga spans almost fifty years and culminates when a long-buried secret shows up to unsettle their already trembling definition of family.

    A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
    How could I not include the ultimate family succession drama on this list? Even if you take away the dragons and the blood magic (though why would you want to?) Game of Thrones is about feuding families, plain and simple. Combine torrid love affairs, secret alliances, hidden heirs and surprise deaths, and the saga of Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens could look like something ripped from the headlines. (Also, since the last season wasn’t everyone’s favorite, now is the perfect time to re-read the books in case Martin finishes the next one!)

    Queens of Innis Lear, by Tessa Gratton
    A fantasy inspired by King Lear puts his daughters center stage: the ruthless and strong Gaela, seductress and political manipulator Regan, and the sweet priestess Elia. Each of them believes they have a part to play in the future of their father’s kingdom, even if it means rebelling against one another and turning towards dangerous magic in order to achieve their aims. Lear’s daughters were always the most fascinating part of Shakespeare’s play to me, and this inventive, impeccably-written novel explores each of them with depth, making even their most horrific choices relatable.

    Rich People Problems, by Kevin Kwan
    [Spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books!]
    In the third book in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series, an elderly relative on her deathbed inspires family to descend upon her in the hopes of claiming some of her riches for their own. Nick and Rachel are happily married in New York City when their lives are uprooted with the news of his grandmother, Su Yi’s illness. When he married Rachel, he forfeited his inheritance but now his mother believes that if he returns home to make amends, he might be able to get it back. But Nick isn’t the only one with a financial scheme against Su Yi. Different in tone to many of the other books on this list, this romcom features flawed characters with hearts of gold, and is as gilded in humor as it is in fun.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    The trailer for the new movie has me in a mood to re-read this classic about four sisters and their mother living in Concord during the Civil War. With Mr. March away, Marmee must make do with what little they have to support the girls—unless, of course, they can be married off into better circumstances and gain some financial footing. It always comes down to money and marriage in the end—but each girl has their own beliefs about what kind of life that would mean for them. Most opinionated on the matter is Jo, who wants to pursue a career as a writer (unheard of at the time), and while she falls for two men over the course of the novel (and does marry one of them), she does it on her own terms. Alcott’s novel remains so loved today because the themes and characters ring true no matter the century or decade, as all young people (and women) wrestle with coming of age, family obligation, and love.

    The Stationery Shop, by Marjan Kamali
    Roya lives in Tehran, Iran in 1953, where she falls in love with Bahman, a budding revolutionary. They are engaged to be married when disaster strikes and instead of the life she had planned, Roya and her sister emigrate to America. She marries someone else, and has a family. But sixty years later, Bahman shows up with a stunning story to share about why they couldn’t be together, and the family secret that kept them apart. Told in alternating chapters between past and present, this beautiful novel about lost love is about the sacrifices we make for the people we love, that often wind up hurting them just the same.

    Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
    This coming-of-age novel infused with magical realism follows “Milkman” Dead III, the first African-American child to be born in his Michigan town. As he learns about his origins and grows into his destiny, he learns the jagged edges of family and the dark underbelly of love. How can a boy become a man and learn to love who he is, when he is born into a legacy of violence and anger?

    Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
    A teenage girl falling in love is a simple story. A girl in 1900’s Japan falling for a married man, and then getting pregnant…isn’t simple at all. The saga in Pachinko is tragic and hopeful; Sunja decides to marry a traveling minister, turning away from what her family believes is honorable and the powerful influence of her son’s father. Her choice has an impact on generations to come, turning a not-so-simple story into a beloved, award-winning epic.

    The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
    Two sisters engage with the trauma of World War II in different ways: Vianne works to save Jewish children in occupied France, even adopting a little boy she isn’t sure she will be able to save, and suffering severe consequences for her bravery; while her younger sister Isabelle joins the French Resistance and becomes a soldier for the cause. While war tears them apart, a secret unites them both that can only be revealed by the narrator, whose identity remains unknown until the end. If you’re tired of stories about sibling rivalry and betrayal, this is the antidote to Succession: a story of war where people fight for one another, in addition to against their enemies.

    King Lear, by William Shakespeare
    How could I not include this classic play about a larger-than-life King who destroys his family by using his kingdom as a bargaining chip? Lear is a play about family, greed, and what love looks like without any ornaments or jewels to make it shine. It’s also about how power can pollute the mind, and as his daughters watch Lear’s sanity unravel, they each have differing reactions including rejecting him, manipulating him, and trying at any cost to save him.

    The Dinner, by Herman Koch
    In this suspenseful thriller, two families meet for dinner to discuss the terrible thing that involved both of their fifteen-year-old sons, and the police. The catch? The two fathers are also brothers. Double catch? One of the brothers is running for prime minister, and has a lot to lose politically if the wrong decision is made over dinner. I love this story for doing what Succession does so well: examining how the actions of parents impact children, which then cause them to act in ways that impact parents—and on and on the cycle of family goes, until someone is brave enough (or angry enough) to stop it.

    What books would you recommend to fans of Succession?

    The post 21 Books to Read for Fans of HBO’s <i>Succession</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 9:00 pm on 2019/02/04 Permalink
    Tags: , all you can ever know, , , china rich girlfriend, , fresh off the boat: a memoir, gail tsukiyama, , how to write an autobiographical novel, , , , , little fires everywhere, marjorie liu, min jin lee, monstress vol 3, nicole chung, p.s. i still love you, , r.f. kuang, sana takeda, the leavers, the poppy war, the refugees, the samurai's garden, the tea girl of hummingbird lane, viet thanh nguyen, where the past begins: memory and imagination, year of the pig   

    Celebrate the Lunar New Year with 14 Books by Asian-American Writers 


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    February 5th marks the celebration of the Lunar New Year, an important holiday for many Asian communities across the country and around the globe. In honor of this holiday, we’ve assembled an astonishing collection of fiction and memoirs celebrating the most recent works of new, emerging, and renowned Asian-American authors.

    Celebrate the new year: discover fresh new voices, and immerse yourself in these dazzling stories.

    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 birth 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 city life and rural life.

    Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
    When free-spirited artist and single mother Mia gives up her wanderlust and puts down roots in the affluent, tight-knit Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, she quickly befriends her landlord Elena’s family. Mia’s dismissal of the town’s social norms causes friction, however, and when she opposes another family’s well-meaning but controversial custody battle for a Chinese American baby, Elena turns against her, determined to dig up Mia’s closely guarded secrets. Fans of Anne Tyler’s Digging to America and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies will devour Ng’s compelling new drama.

    The Leavers, by Lisa Ko 
    Lisa Ko’s debut novel The Leavers already has earned an impressive seal of approval: Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. 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.

    The Poppy War, by R.F. Kuang 
    In a world inspired by the recent history and culture of China, the Nikan Empire defeated the Federation of Mugen in the Second Poppy War, and the two countries have since coexisted in a fragile state of peace. Orphaned peasant girl Rin lives a life of misery in Nikan, but when she sits for the Keju, the empire-wide examination designed to find talented youth, she scores in the highest percentile. She is shocked to be assigned to the prestigious Sinegard military school, home to the children of the Empire’s elite. Kuang is Chinese-American, and the book’s worldbuilding is informed by her study of twentieth century Chinese history, but this is no mere academic exercise—the characters are flawed and true, and the choices they face are impossibly compelling. The “year’s best debut” buzz around this one was warranted; it really is that good.

    All You Can Ever Know, by Nicole Chung
    What happens when you stop believing your own family mythology? This unforgettable memoir starts with one woman’s search for her birth parents and becomes a universal story of identity, family, and home. Like Discover alums Leah Carroll, author of Down Cityand Sarah Perry, author of After the Eclipse, Nicole Chung turns a painful past into powerful art. Bestselling author Celeste Ng (Little Fires Everywhere) is a fan, too.

    Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
    The follow-up to Lee’s captivating debut, Free Food For Millionaires, depicts four generations of a Korean family from 1910 to 1989. When teenaged Sunja becomes pregnant by her married lover, she accepts a proposal from an older boarder at her parents’ boardinghouse who kindly offers her stability as his wife in Japan. Acclimating to a new country proves challenging, and the aftereffects of the move reverberate through the lives of Sunja’s children. A finalist for the National Book Award, this is a fantastic, sprawling epic you can really sink your teeth into.

    The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
    This collection of short stories, centered on themes of immigration and displacement (specifically of Vietnamese people after “the American War”), is by the critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer. The nine short stories are heartbreaking, but also wide-ranging, humorous, and beautifully depicted. Ghosts from the Vietnam War show up, as do families living in San Francisco, San Jose, and Ho Chi Minh City, who are struggling not to merely survive but to live their best lives.

    How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, by Alexander Chee
    After his award-winning debut novel Edinburgh and the bestselling The Queen of the Night—a dazzling epic of opera and espionage in 19th-century France—readers of Alexander Chee knew him as an writer of fiction who crosses boundaries of subject and genre as easily as most of us cross a street.  Now, his collection of sublime reflections on everything from writing to rose gardening has garnered accolades just as admiring—and demonstrated that there’s no more compelling, witty, and surprising essayist writing today.

    China Rich Girlfriend, by Kevin Kwan
    Last year, the film Crazy Rich Asians broke box office records and broke barriers: with a cast made up almost entirely of Asian actors, it became one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time. Much of the credit for that, of course, goes to the deliriously entertaining novel the movie is based on. Kevin Kwan’s trilogy—which continues in Crazy Rich Asians and Rich People Problems—makes for addictive reading, telling a story of pure wish fulfillment (girl meets boy, finds out boy is very rich—like, very, very rich) set amid the upper echelon of Singapore’s wealthy elite.

    Where the Past Begins: Memory and Imagination, by Amy Tan
    In following the lives of Chinese-American immigrants stumbling over cultural and generational divides, Amy Tan’s acclaimed novel The Joy Luck Club spoke to family struggles both specific and universal, and became a boundary breaking runaway bestseller. In this memoir, Tan considers the way she has used storytelling and the plights of fictional characters as a way to help her make sense of her own life’s journey. It’s as much a reflection on her childhood and her experiences finding herself in her craft as it is an instruction manual for anyone interesting in writing their own fictional, emotionally true stories.

    P.S. I Still Love You, by Jenny Han
    In this second book in Han’s Love series, which inspired the breakout film on Netflix, Lara Jean is actually dating Pete, but she’s also dealing with some social media fallout after a (relatively tame) hot tub hookup is leaked to the web. And, of course, Pete’s ex-girlfriend (and Lara Jean’s former BFF) Genevieve is trying to steal him back. The letters-never-meant-to-be-sent pop up again here, as does another old crush. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Han’s series is how it skews younger in voice—at times, Lara feels decidedly naïve—but tackles big issues like bullying, loss, and family.

    Monstress, Vol. 3 (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
    In the shadow of war, teenager Maika Halfwolf shares a psychic connection with a powerful monster. The latest chapter in this acclaimed epic fantasy series sees Maika forced to find allies as invasion looms (no easy feat for a woman so accustomed to standing on her own). Confronting trauma and racism with a cast of powerful and nuanced women, the series remains among the most visually stunning books on the stands, and continues to evolve its story and its world, inspired by East Asian history and aesthetics. The B&N edition of the latest volume of this Eisner Award-winning series features a variant cover and a two-sided poster filled with more of Takeda’s beautiful, detailed, character-rich work.

    The Samurai’s Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama
    Just before World War II, a young Chinese painter named Stephen leaves Hong Kong to recuperate from tuberculosis at his family’s summer home in a coastal Japanese village. During Stephen’s recovery, a quiet housekeeper and gardener named Matsu cares for him. As he grows stronger, Stephen comes to understand and respect Matsu’s gentle wisdom and devotion to finding beauty in the world, and an unlikely friendship blossoms. With lyrical prose and deep insight, Tsukiyama explores themes of loyalty, honor, and loss.

    Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, by Eddie Huang
    This funny, provocative memoir by foodie kingpin Eddie Huang, of Baohaus fame, tracks his coming of age as the hip-hop–obsessed, American-born son of Taiwanese parents. Raw, funny, and real, Huang’s memoir shares what it’s like to be an ABC (American-Born Chinese) trying to kick it in mainstream America. It even inspired a sitcom adaptation, starring an 11-year-old Eddie, which brought the book’s subversive stance to the small screen, in a comedy exploring culture shock, stereotypes, and peer pressure.

    What authors are helping you ring in the Lunar New Year?

    The post Celebrate the Lunar New Year with 14 Books by Asian-American Writers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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