Required fall reading
10 books for cooler weather
With nearly as many new books on shelves as there are leaves falling from trees, here are 10 of the season’s more interesting new releases.
1. Rabih Alameddine’s The Angel of History (Grove Atlantic, $26) is set in a waiting room in a San Francisco psych ward. As Jacob, a gay Arab American poet, awaits admission, Satan engages Death, saints and angels in dialogue.
2. Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge (Nation Books, $25.99) reports the deaths of 10 children and teens by guns on a single Saturday in 2013. Incredible journalism on a major topic.
3. The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke (Grove Press, $26) is the Chinese novelist’s version of the village of Macondo: Lianke studies the city named Explosion, following the path of the Kong family’s determination to create an emperor, using a style he calls “mythorealism” to create a satire of ambition.
4. Derek Palacio’s debut, The Mortifications (Tim Duggan Books, $27), is the story of the Encarnacións, a mother, daughter and son, who came to the United States via the 1980s Mariel Boatlift, while the father remained in Cuba. The book is emotionally fraught with sweeping scope.
5. Wonder where Ayn Rand’s idea of combining bad fiction and bad philosophy came from? Find out October 6 with How Bad Writing Destroyed the World: Ayn Rand and the Literary Origins of the Financial Crisis by Adam Weiner (Bloomsbury Academic, $19.95).
6. Margaret Atwood takes on The Tempest in Hag-Seed, out October 11 (Hogarth, $25). Atwood gives us the actor Felix Phillips, exiled from his prominent theater company and teaching drama in a prison.
7. Truevine: Two Brothers, A Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy, out October 18 (Little, Brown and Co., $28) is the story of George and Willie Muse, albino African-American children kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks.
8. John Edgar Wideman examines the lives behind the lynching that launched the civil rights movement in Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File (Scribner, $25). The book, out November 15, is the forgotten tragedy of Emmett Till’s father, who was executed by the Army in 1945 for rape and murder and whose case was used in defense of his son’s murderers.
9. French graphic novelist Nicolas Otero tackles the Nirvana frontman’s biography from the perspective of Boddah, Cobain’s invisible childhood friend in a new book out November 22. Who Killed Kurt Cobain? The Story of Boddah (IDW Publishing, $24.99) shows Cobain’s genius and decline in a way that takes the blame off Courtney Love and fame, and puts it squarely on depression and addiction.
10. Two years ago, we all wanted to bring them home. Nigerian novelist Helon Habila’s brilliant reporting, The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria (Columbia Global Reports, $12.99) brings us up to date December 5. Depicting the anguish of the parents, the ineffectual government response, the rise of Boko Haram, and the short attention span of the international community, this book is required reading.