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Current Book Awards & Nominees: 2016
    The 2016 National Book Award [presented November 16, 2016 - more...]

    THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead
    The unforgettable odyssey of a teenage slave named Cora, who flees the Georgia plantation where she was born, risking everything in pursuit of freedom. This is both a riveting adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
    "Whitehead proves once again that he's a master of language - there are no wasted words in the book, and it's apparent that each sentence was crafted with exacting care. In Cora, he has also created a character that will likely be remembered for generations to come." — NPR.
    "A brutal, vital, devastating novel. The subtly antique prose and detailed description combine to create a world that is entirely convincing. I haven’t been as simultaneously moved and entertained by a book for many years. This is a luminous, furious, wildly inventive tale that not only shines a bright light on one of the darkest periods of history, but also opens up thrilling new vistas for the form of the novel itself." — The Guardian (U.K.).
    "A potent, almost hallucinatory novel that leaves the reader with a devastating understanding of the terrible human costs of slavery. One of the remarkable things about this novel is how Mr. Whitehead found an elastic voice that accommodates both brute realism and fablelike allegory, the plain-spoken and the poetic - a voice that enables him to convey the historical horrors of slavery with raw, shocking power. He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present." — The New York Times.

    (Brooklyn Arts Press)
    Daniel Borzutzky's new collection of poetry draws connections between the US and Latin America, specifically touching upon issues relating to border and immigration policies, economic disparity, political violence, and the disturbing rhetoric of capitalism and bureaucracies. Borzutzky argues that to become human is to navigate these borders, and asks what it means to be both an American and a globalized subject whose body is "shared between the earth, the state, and the bank."
    "A relentlessly and unapologetically brutal vision at the center of which is the human body being violated, maimed, tortured, exploited, judged, imprisoned, surveilled, and otherwise unjustly controlled. The voice of the speaker moves from moment to moment through that of a refugee, a migrant worker, a child laborer, a prisoner, a dissident, a victim of racism or ethnic cleansing, a victim of police brutality, a victim of rape, a victim of corporate profiteering." — Boston Review.
    "The bloody images build upon each other relentlessly, creating a world in which we are all complicit and from which there is no escape and no redemption. The Performance of Becoming Human is not an easy book to read, but it is a powerful one." — Vox.
    "Borzutzky's poetry is part Orwellian nightmare and part politicized call to arms regarding the very real state of the world. The bodies in his collection are bordered. They have been conquered and militarized. They have been dumped into gulags to fester. . . Yet Borzutzky manages to instill a hope in his readers that although we remain trapped in our putrid and failing bodies, we, too, will succeed in our spiritual mission to persevere." — American Microreviews & Interviews

    STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
    Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.
    "In this tour de force, Kendi explores the history of racist ideas - and their connection with racist practices - across American history. Racism is the enduring scar on the American consciousness. In this ambitious, magisterial book, Kendi reveals just how deep that scar cuts and why it endures, its barely subcutaneous pain still able to flare." — Kirkus Reviews *** starred review ***.
    "An engrossing and relentless intellectual history of prejudice in America. It offers a grim vision of America and of human nature, but one consistent with an era when the prison warden has supplanted the slave master, and when Black Lives Matter is the latest incarnation of a civil rights movement that has no reason to stop moving. The greatest service Kendi provides is the ruthless prosecution of American ideas about race for their tensions, contradictions and unintended consequences." — The Washington Post.
    "Kendi's provocative egalitarian argument combines prodigious reading and research with keen insights into the manipulative power of racist ideologies that suppress the recognition of diversity. This is a must for serious readers of American history, politics, or social thought." — Library Journal *** starred review ***.

    (Top Shelf/Diamond Comics)
    MARCH: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin | Illustrated by Nate Powell
    Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to life for a new generation. In this conclusion to the March trilogy of graphic novels, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns in 1963. With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. And on the horizon looms a historic showdown in an Alabama town called Selma.
    "A living icon of the civil rights movement brings his frank and stirring account of the movement's most tumultuous years (so far) to a climax. Illustrator Powell's high-contrast black-and-white images underscore the narrative's emotional intensity. This memoir's unique eyewitness view of epochal events makes it essential reading for an understanding of those times - and these." — Kirkus Reviews *** starred review ***.
    "Perhaps the greatest strength of this last volume is that the chilling similarities between the violent political atmosphere more than 50 years ago and today remind readers that the drive for justice and equality is ongoing. It's a stirring call to action that's particularly timely, and one that will resonate and empower young readers in particular. Essential reading." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "Lewis's willingness to speak from the heart about moments of doubt and anguish imbues the book with emotional depth. The vivid black-and-white visuals soar, conveying expressions of hope, scorn, and devastation and making storied figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Fannie Lou Hamer feel three-dimensional and familiar. VERDICT: This essential addition to graphic novel shelves, history curricula, and memoir collections will resonate with teens and adults alike" — School Library Journal *** starred review ***.

    The 2016 Man Booker Prize
    The Man Booker Prize is the world's most important literary award. The prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best novel of the year written in the English language.
  • The longlist (best 13 titles) was announced Wednesday, July 27, 2016.
  • The shortlist (best 6 titles) was announced Tuesday, September 13, 2016.
    • Paul Beatty (U.S.): The Sellout
    • Deborah Levy (U.K.): Hot Milk
    • Graeme Macrae Burnet (U.K.): His Bloody Project
    • Ottessa Moshfegh (U.S.): Eileen
    • David Szalay (Canada-U.K.): All That Man Is
    • Madeleine Thien (Canada): Do Not Say We Have Nothing
  • The winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize was announced Tuesday, October 25, 2016.
    And the winner is... THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty
    "The Sellout isn't just one of the most hilarious American novels in years, it also might be the first truly great satirical novel of the century. It is a comic masterpiece, but it's much more than just that - it's one of the smartest and most honest reflections on race and identity in America in a very long time." — NPR.

    [more on The Sellout...]

  • 2016 MAN BOOKER PRIZE NOMINEES (more...)
    All 13 longlist nominees are in stock at Walden Pond Books
    including U.K. editions published in advance of U.S. editions. The U.K. editions are always the first to sell out, so phone 510-832-4438 to reserve your copy ASAP.
    Paul Beatty (U.S.): The Sellout (U.S. edition in stock)
    J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian): The Schooldays of Jesus (U.K. edition in stock)
    A.L. Kennedy (U.K.): Serious Sweet (U.S. edition in stock)
    Deborah Levy (U.K.): Hot Milk (U.S. edition in stock)
    Graeme Macrae Burnet (U.K.): His Bloody Project (U.S. edition in stock)
    Ian McGuire (U.K.): The North Water (U.S. edition in stock)
    David Means (U.S.): Hystopia (U.S. edition in stock)
    Wyl Menmuir (U.K.): The Many (U.K. edition in stock)
    Ottessa Moshfegh (U.S.): Eileen (U.S. edition in stock)
    Virginia Reeves (U.S.): Work Like Any Other (U.S. edition in stock)
    Elizabeth Strout (U.S.): My Name Is Lucy Barton (U.S. edition in stock)
    David Szalay (Canada-U.K.): All That Man Is (U.K. and U.S. edition in stock)
    Madeleine Thien (Canada): Do Not Say We Have Nothing (U.S. edition in stock)

  • 2016 NOMINEES


    THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty
    When an African-American sociologist (who raised his son as the subject in a racially-charged psychological experiment) is killed in a shoot-out with the Los Angeles Police, his son embarks on an outrageous crusade to achieve national attention that climaxes in the U.S. Supreme Court. Paul Beatty delivers a dazzlingly smart and fabulously profane novel that is a damning social critique of a stereotype-ridden America.
    "The author of the deservedly highly praised The White Boy Shuffle, here outdoes himself and possibly everybody else in a send-up of race, popular culture, and politics. Beatty hits on all cylinders in a darkly funny, dead-on-target, elegantly written satire. Frequently laugh-out-loud funny and, in the way of the great ones, profoundly thought provoking. A major contribution." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "The most caustic and the most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I've read in at least a decade. I gave up underlining the killer bits because my arm began to hurt. . . Reads like the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility. A landmark and deeply aware comic novel. It puts you down in a place that's miles from where it picked you up." — The New York Times.
    "Among the most important and difficult American novels written in the 21st century. It is a bruising novel that readers will likely never forget." — The Los Angeles Times.
    "The Sellout isn't just one of the most hilarious American novels in years, it also might be the first truly great satirical novel of the century. It is a comic masterpiece, but it's much more than just that - it's one of the smartest and most honest reflections on race and identity in America in a very long time." — NPR.

    (Harvill Secker/Viking)
    Nobel laureate and two-time Booker Prize winner J. M. Coetzee returns with a new chapter of his haunting Christian allegory about childhood and destiny that is sure to rank with his classic novels. Though no one named Jesus appears, there are parallels aplenty to the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, set in an unnamed Spanish-speaking country where the people are decent, well-intentioned, strangely satisfied, don't eat meat, don't fight and don't charge for services.
    "Plunges us at once into a mysterious and dreamlike terrain. . . A Kafka-inspired parable of the quest for meaning itself." — The New York Times.
    "One of the world’s finest living authors. . . a proven master with an increasingly wilful streak, always a writer to excite. It is always dangerous to push an as yet unpublished work, but in the case of Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus could be a book of the year, never mind an expected contender." — The Irish Times (U.K.).
    "Captivating and provocative. . . Coetzee's precise prose is at once rich and austere, lean and textured, deceptively straightforward and yet expansive, as he considers what is required, not just of the body, but by the heart." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.

    (Jonathan Cape)
    SERIOUS SWEET by A.L. Kennedy
    Jon Sigurdsson is fifty-nine and divorced, a civil servant who loathes his work for a government engaged in unmentionable acts. Meg Williams is a recently sober forty-five year old bankrupt accountant desperately keeping her alcoholism at bay. Poignant, deeply funny, and beautifully written, this is an unusually moving love story (and espionage novel) about two decent, damaged people trying to make moral choices in an immoral world.
    "A bold, cinematic novel that covers a lot of territory, its subjects as large, diverse and intimate as addiction, politics, clothing, animals, coffee, the trappings of power, and what little measure of kindness may remain in the world. Not to mention love... The actual moment when Jon and Meg fall in love is one of the best descriptions of that major human treat ever." — The Herald (U.K.).
    "Like the great city symphonies of the modernist era - Mrs Dalloway and Ulysses among them - Serious Sweet takes place over the course of a single day, juxtaposing the lives of the city’s inhabitants over 24 hours. This is a novel for our times. . . a novel of ideas that is deft enough never to be didactic because it asks more questions than it answers." — The Guardian (U.K.).
    "A writer of exquisite precision. . . a public novel, angrily political, taking aim at inequalities, injustices and callous harshness. For many this will hit the nail bang on the head, and they will applaud a novelist expressing her idea of a writer’s social responsibility so eloquently." — The Scotsman (U.K.).

    HOT MILK by Deborah Levy
    Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant - their very last chance - and encounter strange treatment methods even more baffling than the illness. The author of a previous Man Booker Prize nominee (Swimming Home), Deborah Levy delivers a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life.
    "A memorable heroine. . . It is Sofia's frantic, vulnerable voice that makes this novel a singular read. Levy has crafted a great character in Sofia, and witnessing a pivotal point in her life is a pleasure." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "This rich new novel from a highly regarded British writer dazzles and teases with its many connections while exposing the double-edged sword of mother-daughter love. Levy's wit and fluency render her quicksilver, sometimes surreal narrative simultaneously farcical and fascinating. Scintillating and provocative, Levy combines intellect and empathy to impressively modern effect." — Kirkus Reviews *** starred review ***.
    "A beguiling tale of myths and identity. Exquisite prose, perfectly crafted, a dream-narrative so mesmerising that reading it is to be under a spell. Reaching the end is like finding a piece of glass on the beach, shaped into a sphere by the sea, that can be held up and looked into, and kept, in secret, to be looked at again and again." — The Independent (U.K.)
    "Acutely relevant. A triumph of technically adroit storytelling. Levy's elegant and poised prose has the rare quality of being simultaneously expansive and succinct . . . A breath of fresh air." — The Literary Review (U.K.)

    HIS BLOODY PROJECT by Graeme Macrae Burnet
    In 1869, a brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish village leads to the arrest of seventeen-year-old Roderick Macrae. There is no question of Macrae’s guilt, but it falls to the country’s most eminent legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to his bloody deeds. Ultimately, the young man’s fate hinges on one key question: is he insane?
    “A truly ingenious thriller as confusingly multi-layered as an Escher staircase” — The Daily Express (U.K.).
    “A gripping crime story, a deeply imagined historical novel, and gloriously written - all in one tour-de-force of a book.” — Books of the Year, The Sunday Herald (U.K.)
    "This assured and ingenious novel, based on a sensational and dramatic trial at Inverness in 1869, is a deeply imagined tale of persecution, tragedy, revenge and courtroom drama - noir historical fiction at its best. Superbly written. . . This compelling and disturbing novel marks Graeme Burnet as a name to watch." — Crime Review (U.K.).
    "Graeme Macrae Burnet makes such masterly use of the narrative form that the horrifying tale he tells in His Bloody Project seems plucked straight out of Scotland's sanguinary historical archives." — The New York Times.
    "Fiendishly readable! A psychological thriller masquerading as a slice of true crime, the book is also a blackly funny investigation into madness and motivation." — The Guardian (U.K.).

    (Henry Holt)
    THE NORTH WATER by Ian McGuire
    A nineteenth-century British whaling ship becomes the stage for a confrontation between brutal harpooner Henry Drax and ex-army surgeon Patrick Sumner, the ship's medic, during a violent, ill-fated voyage to the Arctic. This dark, sharp, and highly original tale grips like a thriller with savage, unstoppable momentum and the blackest wit. The North Water weaves a superlative story of humanity under the most extreme conditions. This is historical fiction at its finest!
    "A great white shark of a book - swift, terrifying, relentless and unstoppable. Mr. McGuire is such a natural storyteller and recounts his tale here with such authority and verve that The North Water swiftly immerses the reader in a fully imagined world. Riveting and darkly brilliant, The North Water feels like the result of an encounter between Joseph Conrad and Cormac McCarthy in some run-down port as they offer each other a long, sour nod of recognition." — The New York Times.
    "McGuire delivers one bravura set-piece after another. This is a stunning novel, one that snares the reader from the outset and keeps the tightest grip until its bitter end." — The Financial Times (U.K.).
    "An audacious work of historical suspense fiction. It's the poetic precision of McGuire's harsh vision of the past that makes his novel such a standout. Absolutely transporting!" — Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air.
    "A conspiracy thriller stuffed into the skin of a blood-and-guts whaling yarn. The novel is a stunning achievement, by turns great fun and shocking, thrilling and provocative. Behold: one of the finest books of the year!" — The Independent (U.K.).
    "Terrific, seamed with pitch black humour and possessed of a momentum that's kept up to the final, unexpected but resoundingly satisfying scene. Inspired!" — The Daily Mail (U.K.).

    HYSTOPIA by David Means
    At the bitter end of the 1960s, after surviving multiple assassination attempts, President John F. Kennedy is entering his third term in office. The Vietnam War rages on, and the president has created a vast federal agency, the Psych Corps, dedicated to maintaining the nation's mental hygiene by any means necessary. This destabilized version of American history is the vision a young Vietnam War veteran turned author struggles to write in David Mean's outlandish, tender, funny, violent, timely book-within-a-book.
    "Having established his literary standing with short stories, Means delivers his long-anticipated debut novel, a compelling, imaginative alternative-history tale about memory and distress. By turns disturbing, hilarious, and absurd, Means' novel is also sharply penetrating in its depiction of an America all too willing to bury its past." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "Supremely gonzo and supremely good. If Flannery O'Connor had written about Vietnam, this might be what she would have created. Henry James once described the real as the things we cannot possibly not know. Hystopia reads like a Jamesian investigation of knowledge, albeit one fueled by amphetamines." — The Boston Globe.
    "A picture of social breakdown that feels horribly believable, given the questions about civil rights, foreign wars and future leadership that Americans are asking today. In the hysterical, dystopian history that is Hystopia there are no easy answers and no happy endings, just an intense and scary story of survival. Means takes a truer, harder look at the frailties and strengths of humanity than most authors dare, and he has created a work of meta-fiction that crackles with life and menace." — The London Times (U.K.).

    THE MANY by Wyl Menmuir
    Timothy Buchannan moves into a falling-apart house in a derelict seaside town where most fishermen have abandoned their boats; those who do still venture out either return empty-handed, or bring back meagre hauls of deformed fish. Mysteries abound and as Timothy tries to solve them, the village's animosity towards him begins to build. A many-layered and unnerving horror tale that explores the impact of loss and the devastation that hits when the foundations on which we rely are swept away.
    "The Many unfolds like an unsettling dream, shifting illogically, asking the reader to accept leaps from reality to what seems like fantasy. Its portrayal of a community left behind by technology and bureaucracy, suspicious of the threat represented by 'outsiders', is recognisable and timely - perhaps even more so now than the author may have intended. But it's not just a strange fable, there is humanity in it too." — Learn This Phrase (U.K.).
    This book is powerfully written and haunting. Always teetering on the edge of the gothic, Menmuir describes a coastal community that is dreamlike, slightly out of focus, with its own rules that Timothy never grasps. At the same time, it is rooted in the real world: remote bureaucracy, plummeting fish stocks and maritime pollution." — Blue Book Balloon (U.K.).
    "The sparse prose is dark and intense, strikingly written with a haunting quality that sends shivers through the soul." — Never Imitate (U.K.).

    EILEEN by Ottessa Moshfegh
    A lonely young woman working in a boys prison outside Boston is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense. Creepy, mesmerizing, and sublimely witty, in the tradition of Shirley Jackson and early Vladimir Nabokov, this powerful debut novel enthralls and shocks, and introduces one of the most original new voices in contemporary fiction.
    "The great power of this book, which won the PEN/Hemingway debut fiction award, is that Eileen is never simply a literary gargoyle; she is painfully alive and human, and Ottessa Moshfegh writes her with a bravura wildness that allows flights of expressionistic fantasy to alternate with deadpan matter of factness As an evocation of physical and psychological squalor, Eileen is original, courageous and masterful." — The Guardian (U.K.).
    "A wonderfully unsettling first novel. When the denouement comes, it's as shocking as it is thrilling. Part of the pleasure of the book (besides the almost killing tension) is that Eileen is mordantly funny. This tale belongs to both the past and future Eileen - a truly original character who is gloriously unlikable, dirty, startling and as ferociously human as the novel that bears her name." — The San Francisco Chronicle.
    "The attention that is now greeting Moshfegh's first novel is not undeserved. Eileen is a remarkable piece of writing, always dark and surprising, sometimes ugly and occasionally hilarious. Its first-person narrator is one of the strangest, most messed-up, most pathetic and yet, in her own inimitable way, endearing misfits I've encountered in fiction. Trust me, you have never read anything remotely like Eileen."— The Washington Post.

    WORK LIKE ANY OTHER by Virginia Reeves
    As electricity begins to transform 1920s rural Alabama, electrician Roscoe T. Martin is convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison for electrocuting a state power worker. As he climbs the ladder of the ranks of the incarcerated (from dairy hand to librarian to "dog boy"), he struggles to reconcile his fierce pride in his expertise with the price paid by him and his family for his crime. Virginia Reeves' debut novel provides a stunning commentary on guilt, love, and redemption - and on intriguing, little-known facets of the Jim Crow South.
    "A consummately well-written, deeply affecting, thought-provoking American historical novel of hard labor, broken dreams, moral dilemmas, violence, racism, and the intricacies of marriage, parenthood, and friendship. Reeves' gripping, dynamically plotted, and profound novel will resonant on different frequencies for men and women and spark soul-searching and heated discussion." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "When you’re on the last few pages of a book and find yourself longing for more, then you know that it is a very powerful read. Such is the case with Work Like Any Other. This is a deeply gripping portrayal of Americana in the Deep South, replete with racism, violence, and heartbreak. Reeves delivers powerful heartrending scenes of despair and hope and paints magnificent scenes with expressive and direct language. Her characters are well thought out and deeply permeated with emotion. Astonishingly well-written. . . astonishingly beautiful." — New York Journal of Books.

    MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Elizabeth Strout
    Novelist Lucy Barton is recovering in a New York City hospital when her estranged mother suddenly appears. Together, mother and daughter navigate their way through their memories of their strained, emotionally distant relationship and the difficult childhood Lucy endured amid poverty, loneliness and ostracism. This is a profoundly moving novel of dysfunctional family love. It is also a story of lasting emotional damage and resilience, and a writer's commitment to the truth.
    "There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name Is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion from darkest suffering to simple joy." — The New York Times.
    "A quiet, sublimely merciful contemporary novel about love, yearning, and resilience in a family damaged beyond words." — The Boston Globe
    "Sensitive, deceptively simple, subtly powerful. Strout captures the pull between the ruthlessness required to write without restraint and the necessity of accepting others flaws. Like all of Strout's fiction, more complex than it first appears, and all the more emotionally persuasive for it." — The San Francisco Chronicle.
    "Spectacular . . . Smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom. Elizabeth Strout is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times." — The Washington Post.

    ALL THAT MAN IS by David Szalay
    Nine men from nine different backgrounds in nine different cities strive to understand what it means to be alive in a globalized Europe. Tracing a dramatic arc from youth to old age, the nine narratives aggregate into a picture of a single shared existence of modern manhood. As this brilliantly conceived book progresses, the protagonist at the center of each chapter is older than the last one, the weather grows colder, and the story gathers power and momentum. Szalay is a writer of supreme gifts - a master of a new kind of realism that vibrates with detail, intelligence, and relevance.
    "Cleverly conceived, authoritative, timely and (in a good way) crushing. There is a cheerful and ghastly sordidness to everything, and Szalay's prose with its ruthlessly banal dialogue, arm-twisting present tense, shard-like fragments, and on every other page or so an irresistibly brilliant epithet or startlingly quotable phrase, lets nothing go to waste." — London Review of Books (U.K.).
    "Each story grips the reader by the throat. We fully inhabit their progression of heroes and finally face the dreadful truth of the human condition: that nothing is eternal, not us, not our children, the human race, the Earth nor the stars. Rarely has it been so brilliantly and chillingly spelled out." — The Daily Mail (U.K.).
    "Without exception, the stories - subtle, seductive, poignant, humorous - bear witness to the alienation, self-doubt, and fragmentation of contemporary life; each succeeds on its own while complementing the others. Riveting prose and a consummate command of structure. . . In 2013, Szalay was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. This effort exceeds even that lofty expectation."— Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.

    DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING by Madeleine Thien
    With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations - those who lived through Mao's Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989. This is an extraordinary novel set in one of the most extraordinary political eras of the past century.
    "Skillfully and elliptically told. . . A colourful cast of characters comes to life. With unflinching clarity, Thien examines the strange, frightening psychology of mass violence in this period and how countless lives were lost as a result. It falls to music, art and literature to salvage fleeting moments of beauty from the ruins of history, the lives of the dead." — The National Post (U.K.).
    "It’s rare to encounter a new literary novel with the sweep and scope of Do Not Say We Have Nothing. It’s no exaggeration to say the reading experience is reminiscent of some of the great Russians: Dostoevsky, Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn. There’s a mastery of storytelling here and the book is engaging on every page." — The Vancouver Sun.
    "Shattering! . . .a testament to Thien’s formidable storytelling skills. The vortex of ideological terror that sweeps up the characters, the harrowing experiences a cruel and pitiless regime foists upon them, and even the potent yet witty prose conveying all this drama sear themselves into your consciousness. Do Not Say We Have Nothing will enthrall just about any reader." — The Toronto Star.
    "This is history in dazzlingly original and lyrical fictional form. . . the book is both a salutary reminder of Thien’s many strengths and a stunning next-level statement." — The Gazette (U.K.).

    The 2016 Pulitzer Prize [presented April 18, 2016 - more...]

    Winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
    Winner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
    Winner of the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
    Winner of the 2015-2016 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

    THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Thanh Nguyen
    A blistering exploration of identity, politics, and America, wrought in electric prose. The narrator, a Vietnamese army captain, is a man of divided loyalties, a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist sleeper agent in America after the end of the Vietnam War. A powerful story of love and friendship, and a gripping espionage novel that examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
    "A remarkable debut novel . . . Nguyen's book fills a void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless . . . The nameless protagonist-narrator, a memorable character despite his anonymity, is an Americanized Vietnamese with a divided heart and mind. Nguyen's skill in portraying this sort of ambivalent personality compares with masters like Conrad, Greene, and le Carre. Both thriller and social satire, in its final chapters, The Sympathizer becomes an absurdist tour de force that might have been written by a Kafka or Genet." — The New York Times.
    "Part literary historical fiction, part espionage thriller and part satire. American perceptions of Asians serve as some of the book's most deliciously tart commentary . . . Nguyen knows of what he writes." — The Los Angeles Times.
    "Nguyen's probing literary art illuminates how Americans failed in their political and military attempt to remake Vietnam but then succeeded spectacularly in shrouding their failure in Hollywood distortions. Compelling and profoundly unsettling." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "Dazzling . . . I've read scads of Vietnam War books, but The Sympathizer has an exciting quality I haven t encountered. A fascinating exploration of personal identity, cultural identity, and what it means to sympathize with two sides at once." — NPR.
    "Extraordinary! Surely a new classic of war fiction. Nguyen has wrapped a cerebral thriller around a desperate expat story that confronts the existential dilemmas of our age. I haven t read anything since Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four that illustrates so palpably how a patient tyrant, unmoored from all humane constraint, can reduce a man's mind to liquid." — The Washington Post.

    BLACK FLAGS: The Rise of Isis by Joby Warrick
    A Best Book of 2015: The New York Times | The Washington Post | People Magazine | San Francisco Chronicle | Kansas City Star | Kirkus Reviews
    In a thrilling dramatic narrative, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison and spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents. Warrick emphasizes how the Iraq invasion's folly birthed ISIS, but that is only one of the startling revelations encountered in this profoundly important and groundbreaking book.
    "A revealing, riveting and exquisitely detailed account of the life and death of Zarqawi, the improbable terrorist mastermind, and the rise of the movement now known as the Islamic State." — The San Francisco Chronicle.
    "A chilling account of the personalities behind the emergence of the Islamic State. Warrick confidently weaves a cohesive narrative from an array of players - American officials, CIA officers, Jordanian royalty and security operatives, religious figures, and terrorists - producing an important geopolitical overview with the grisly punch of true-crime nonfiction. A valuable, readable introduction to a pressing international security threat." — Kirkus Reviews *** starred review ***.
    "Gripping! Mr. Warrick has a gift for constructing narratives with a novelistic energy and detail, and in this volume, he creates the most revealing portrait yet laid out in a book of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the founding father of ISIS. For readers interested in the roots of the Islamic State and the evil genius of its godfather, there is no better book to begin with." — The New York Times.
    "The most thorough and nuanced account of the birth and growth of ISIS published so far. Black Flags is full of personalities, but it keeps its gaze carefully focused on the wider arc of history." — The Boston Globe.
    "The sort of work every journalist would love to write and few can: a detailed and perceptive analysis that's also a page-turner. Necessary reading for anybody who wants to put Islamic State into the context of both contemporary jihadism and the long history of Muslim fundamentalism." — The Chicago Tribune.

    CUSTER'S TRIALS: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles
    WINNER: 2016 Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award
    WINNER: 2016 William H. Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography

    From the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award, a brilliant biography of General George Armstrong Custer that radically changes our view of the man and his turbulent times. In this magisterial biography, T. J. Stiles paints a portrait of Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, proving how much of Custer s legacy has been ignored. He demolishes Custer's historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense personality - capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military.
    "If anyone could make a reader forget Custer's last stand, at least for a few hundred pages at a time, it would be T.J. Stiles. Stiles is a serious and accomplished biographer, but he is more than that. He is a skilled writer, with the rare ability to take years of far-ranging research and boil it down until he has a story that is illuminating and, at its best, captivating." — The New York Times.
    "In this deft portrait, Stiles restores Custer as a three-dimensional figure. The author's prodigious knowledge of 19th-century institutions is on display throughout. He is able to situate Custer in the shifting culture of the Civil War and its aftermath in a way no other biography has achieved." — The Washington Post.
    "Spectacular! A satisfying portrait of a complex, controversial military man. Confidently presenting Custer in all his contradictions, Stiles examines the times to make sense of the man and uses the man to shed light on the times." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.

    BARBARIAN DAYS: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
    An adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of the exacting, little understood art of surfing by one of the New Yorker's finest journalists.
    "A demonstration of gratitude and mastery. In a sense, Barbarian Days functions as a 450-page thank you letter, masterfully crafted, to his parents, friends, wife, enemies, ex-girlfriends, townsfolk, daughter - everyone who tolerated and even encouraged his lifelong obsession. It s a way to help them and us understand what drives him to keep paddling out half a century after first picking up a board." — NPR.
    "An evocative, profound and deeply moving memoir. Were I given unlimited space to review this book, I would simply reproduce it here, with a quotation mark at the beginning and another at the end." — The San Francisco Chronicle.
    "A fascinating look inside the mind of a man terminally in love with a magnificent obsession. A lyrical and intense memoir." — Kirkus Reviews *** starred review ***.
    "The propulsive precision of Finnegan's writing is surprising and revelatory. Through the sheer intensity of his descriptive powers and the undeniable ways in which surfing has shaped his life, Barbarian Days is an utterly convincing study in the joy of treating seriously an unserious thing. As Finnegan demonstrates, surfing, like good writing, is an act of vigilant noticing." — The New York Review of Books.

    (University of Chicago)
    Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian
    A montage of poems that has the feel of history as lived experience, with the speaker struggling with the nature of memory. Peter Balakian aims at the bigger picture of humanity's history of atrocity and trauma, but through short vignettes grounded in everyday situations, and in particular times and places.
    "Distinguished poet Balakian also authored the best-selling The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response, so it's no surprise that the 54-section title poem at this book's heart recalls excavating the bones of Armenian genocide victims in 2009 Syria. But the poem seamlessly shifts to memories of a perfectly rendered New York, of jazz and John Cage, single parenthood and a relative's death from AIDS, and throughout we see how experiences converge, how we are all containers of the past." — Library Journal *** starred review ***.
    "Balakian is blessed with an eerie ability to connect seemingly unrelated events separated by vast amounts of time and space. His work is one of contrasts: the contrast between day and night, earth and sky, love and hate, the temporary and eternal, between inner war and outer peace" — The Literary Review.
    "A mix of intense sensory, even sensual, experience and cerebral force, the verse both meditative and urgent. Balakian's long lines pick up and draw out thoughts, clauses, notes, in the rhythms of exploratory prose, then snap back at unexpected line-breaks, maintaining a gut-level as well as an intellectual tension." — PN Review.

    The 2016 Hugo Award [The 2016 awards were presented August 20, 2016 - more...]

    ANCILLARY MERCY by Ann Leckie
    The third and final volume in Ann Leckie's multiaward-winning Imperial Radch trilogy (Ancillary Justice, 2013; Ancillary Sword, 2014). These richly textured, gorgeously rendered world-building novels are not only riveting space operas but tackle provocative ideas about politics and gender.
    "Highly impressive SF. The fascinating character of Breq is the ultimate agent of change, upsetting a status quo that stood for millennia and advocating for a revolution. This trilogy will stand as a classic of science fiction for the ages, although it's difficult not to want more stories set in this captivating universe." — Library Journal *** starred review ***.
    "The breathtaking conclusion to Leckie's much-lauded Imperiald Radch trilogy lives up to the promise and expectations of the earlier books. A deeply satisfying culmination. This glorious series summit is suffused with the wit and the skillful eye for character that fans have come to expect from Leckie. Breq and her lieutenants are destined to be beloved giants in the space opera canon." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "If you don't know the Ancillary series by now, you probably should. Ann Leckie's sociopolitical space opera almost singlehandedly breathed new cool into the stereotype of spaceships trundling through far-off systems amid laser battles. Ancillary Mercy earns the credit it's received: as a capstone to a series that shook genre expectations, as our closing installment of an immersively realized world, and as the poignant story of a ship that learned to sing." — NPR.

    Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. But when a merchant ship captain is caught up in a bitter feud between Spire Albion and Spire Aurora, he learns the conflict between the Spires is a sign of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more.
    "Wow! Just wow! Beware fellow readers, herein lies adventure that will keep you from food or rest. It is as if Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Patrick O Brien and well, Jim Butcher, all got together and wrote a book done very, very right. Butcher proves yet again that he is an amazing storyteller." — author Patricia Briggs.
    "Great action scenes, a fascinating world, and characters of a sort I've never seen before. This is everything I've come to expect from Jim Butcher, but in a delightful new flavor." — author Patrick Rothfuss.
    "Butcher opens the imaginative Cinder Spires series with this sweeping fantastical epic. It's a fascinating, adventurous, and intricate story. Butcher brings a fresh and exciting perspective to secondary-world steampunk, giving the reader a thrilling ride." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "The bestselling author of the Dresden Files, now launches the Cinder Spires, a new epic fantasy, steampunk hybrid series that has shades of both Naomi Novik and Cherie Priest. With shifting points of view, short chapters, fast-paced action, and awesome battle scenes, the large cast of characters, elaborate world building, and intricate plot are revealed quickly and realized fully. It all reminds readers of when they first fell for Harry Dresden." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "Splendid! The action is nonstop to the end. The author blends familiar steampunk and fantasy elements (airships, wizardry, and heroes from a monarch's guard) in a fresh and wonderful way that results in a fantastic ride." — Library Journal *** starred review ***.
    "Just a blast from start to finish. . . masterful world building. Airships! Pirates! Sky battles! The Aeronaut’s Windlass really is a thoroughly entertaining story written by an author who knows what he’s doing. Highly recommended!" — SFWorld


    THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin
    In the Stillness - a land plagued by cataclysmic earthquakes and natural disasters - the only way to survive is to constantly prepare for the next fifth season. Authorities keep a brutal hold on the gifted few - the orogenes - who possess a mysterious ability to cause or rein in geological chaos. An marvelously gripping story, the first in the new Broken Earth series from the acclaimed author of the Inheritance Trilogy.
    "Multiaward winner Jemisen breaks uncharted ground with this long-awaited title, creating a completely realized society inhabited by three varieties of humans and a nonhuman species that lives inside the earth. A must-buy." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "Elegiac, complex, and intriguing. . . Jemisin's graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "The payoff is astounding. Deeply clever and affecting. . . Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come." — NPR.
    "Brilliant, gorgeous writing and unexpected plot twists." — The Washington Post.
    "Intricate and extraordinary world-building. . . Jemisin's heroes achieve escape velocity, smashing through oppressive systems and leaving them behind like shed skins. A triumph." — The New York Times.

    (William Morrow)
    SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson
    From the author of Snow Crash, Anathem and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic - a grand story of annihilation and survival. A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity. Five thousand years later, their descendants embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.
    "Stephenson's remarkable novel is deceptively complex, a disaster story and transhumanism tale that serves as the delivery mechanism for a series of technical and sociological visions." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "Should you find yourself reading Stephenson’s epic in public, absorbed in the deeply technical and emotional unfolding of Earth’s fate, prepare yourself for your own surprise as you look up to find everyone in the cafe going about their lives as if everything is just as normal as it was the day before. This brilliant piecebook will crush you like a crumbling mountain. Stephenson’s monster of a book is likely to dominate your 2015 SF-reading experience." — Booklist.
    "Another brilliant speculative novel in a long line from Neal Stephenson. The author brings his considerable intelligence, wit and ability to write engaging, believable characters to a tour de force of speculative fiction. A riveting book from beginning to end." — Shelf Awareness.
    "Truly epic... a fascinating, breathtaking disaster novel that one-ups apocalyptic movies such as Armageddon or 2012 by subjecting humanity to an extinction-level event. A breakneck tech-action-disaster story of tremendous force and focus... lavish descriptions... Stephenson’s people are vivid and terrified: they bicker and cry and perform heroic deeds. But still, he does give himself all the time in the world to describe giant space gadgets. And I quite like giant space gadgets." — The Guardian (U.K.)

    (Del Rey)
    UPROOTED by Naomi Novik
    NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR | BuzzFeed | | BookPage | Library Journal | Publishers Weekly
    Naomi Novik introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale. Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. And he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years.
    "Uprooted has leapt forward to claim the title of Best Book I've Read Yet This Year. Moving, heartbreaking, and thoroughly satisfying, this is the fantasy novel I feel I've been waiting a lifetime for. Clear your schedule before picking it up, because you won't want to put it down." — NPR.
    A modern classic. . . Naomi Novik skillfully takes the fairy-tale-turned-bildungsroman structure of her premise and builds enough flesh on those bones to make a very different animal. The vivid characters around her echo their fairy-tale forebears, but are grounded in real-world ambivalence that makes this book feel quietly mature, its world lived-in." — The New York Times.
    "Breathtaking . . . Novik weaves a tale that is both elegantly grand and earthily humble, familiar as a Grimm fairy tale yet fresh, original, and totally irresistible. This will be a must-read for fantasy fans for years to come." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "The magic in Uprooted, with its realistic moral dimension, is so vividly believable that it almost seems you could work the spells. But the book will do that for you." — Ursula K. Le Guin.
    "An exceptional fantasy. . . Drawing on her Polish heritage and fairy-tale tropes, the author has penned an original and fully realized fantastical place guaranteed to enthrall her longtime fans and attract new readers." — Library Journal *** starred review ***.
    "Naomi Novik has the perfect summer fantasy for you in the spellbinding Uprooted. Novik spins an enthralling story of the classic good-versus-evil variety, where magic, monsters and romance abound. Truly beautiful prose, inventive twists and a capable, tenacious heroine make this charmingly accessible fantasy shine." — BookPage *** starred review ***.

    The 2016 Edgar Award [presented April 28, 2016 - more...]


    The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter
    The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr
    Life or Death by Michael Robotham
    WINNER! Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
    Canary by Duane Swierczynski
    Night Life David C. Taylor


    Edgar Award winner Lori Roy wrests from a Kentucky town the secrets of two families touched by an evil that has passed between generations. Young love, Southern folklore, family feuds, and crimes of passion - all meld into one of the most unforgettable suspense novels of the decade! HIGHEST RECOMENDATION!
    "Devastating! This powerful story inspired by the last legal public hanging in the U.S. should transfix readers right up to its stunning final twist." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "Open Let Me Die in His Footsteps anywhere and Lori Roy's melodious voice will float off the page. This Depression-era story is a sad one, written in every shade of Gothic black. But its true colors emerge in the rich textures of the narrative, and in the music of that voice, as hypnotic as the scent coming off a field of lavender." — The New York Times.
    "A tense and ruthless Southern Gothic mixed with the other perennial American classic: the coming-of-age tale. This is a dark story of adolescence in all of its awkward, terrible, exhilarating glory. And that's what makes it sing." — Bustle Magazine.
    "There are echoes of Flannery O'Connor here: poverty, violence, malevolence, and grace. Roy's writing is spell-like, using a simplicity of language, deft characterization, an understanding of the dark side of human nature, and relentless plotting in order to pull together every aspect of the conjuring necessary to create a masterpiece of Southern Noir." — Historical Novel Society.

  • 2016 BEST FIRST NOVEL: THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Thanh Nguyen

    Winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel | Winner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
    Winner of the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize | Winner of the 2015-2016 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
    Winner Of The 2016 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction

    THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Thanh Nguyen
    A blistering exploration of identity, politics, and America, wrought in electric prose. The narrator, a Vietnamese army captain, is a man of divided loyalties, a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist sleeper agent in America after the end of the Vietnam War. A powerful story of love and friendship, and a gripping espionage novel that examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
    "A remarkable debut novel . . . Nguyen's book fills a void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless . . . The nameless protagonist-narrator, a memorable character despite his anonymity, is an Americanized Vietnamese with a divided heart and mind. Nguyen's skill in portraying this sort of ambivalent personality compares with masters like Conrad, Greene, and le Carre. Both thriller and social satire, in its final chapters, The Sympathizer becomes an absurdist tour de force that might have been written by a Kafka or Genet." — The New York Times.
    "Part literary historical fiction, part espionage thriller and part satire. American perceptions of Asians serve as some of the book's most deliciously tart commentary . . . Nguyen knows of what he writes." — The Los Angeles Times.
    "Nguyen's probing literary art illuminates how Americans failed in their political and military attempt to remake Vietnam but then succeeded spectacularly in shrouding their failure in Hollywood distortions. Compelling and profoundly unsettling." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "Dazzling . . . I've read scads of Vietnam War books, but The Sympathizer has an exciting quality I haven t encountered. A fascinating exploration of personal identity, cultural identity, and what it means to sympathize with two sides at once." — NPR.
    "Extraordinary! Surely a new classic of war fiction. Nguyen has wrapped a cerebral thriller around a desperate expat story that confronts the existential dilemmas of our age. I haven t read anything since Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four that illustrates so palpably how a patient tyrant, unmoored from all humane constraint, can reduce a man's mind to liquid." — The Washington Post.

  • 2016 BEST FACT CRIME: WHIPPING BOY: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil

    WHIPPING BOY: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil
    As children, many people have suffered at the hands of school bullies. Not many have devoted 40 years to tracking them down as adults. But that's just what author Allen Kurzweil did, uncovering a remarkable tale of international crime and financial fraud. Kurzweil's stranger-than-fiction investigative memoir is much more than a tale of karmic retribution; it is a poignant meditation on loss, memory, and mourning, a surreal odyssey born out of suffering, nourished by rancor, tempered by wit, and resolved, unexpectedly, in a breathtaking act of personal courage.
    "The hunt reads like an engrossing detective story. Kurzweil is, by his own admission, a man obsessed. His emotions take a backseat to describing his investigatory feats, which lead him to a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar scam. More important than even the scam and the man the bully became, however, is the poignant way that Kurzweil strives to heal the wounds he's carried since school. The story will resonate with anyone who had a bully growing up, as so many did." — Booklist *** starred review ***.
    "A nearly unbelievable narrative. . . a criminal scam so outlandish that it reads like a novel. Allen Kurzweil's Whipping Boy is a work of nonfiction, with no names changed; just when it starts feeling like a thriller, it gets stranger than fiction. But in the end, courage and closure are the rewards for a heartfelt, very funny, poignant and extremely weird story to which Kurzweil's self-deprecatory voice is perfectly suited." — Shelf Awareness *** starred review ***.
    "Kurzweil crafts an entertaining, sharply reported picaresque centering on the colorful leaders of the scam, who bamboozled their marks by posing as monocled European aristocrats and produced a fake deed from the fictional King of Mombessa. A crime saga that's ripe with hilarious humbuggery." — Publishers Weekly *** starred review ***.
    "Kurzweil does the delightfully unexpected: He morphs his story from a poignant memoir into a true-crime thriller." — NPR.

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