Park Slope Reader Fall Reading Recommendations

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“With the arrival of chillier weather comes a new batch of books with which to curl up. Here, a list of 11  titles to enjoy this fall.”

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing

— by Jesmyn Ward —

In her first novel since 2011’s National Book Award-winning Salvage The Bones, Ward tracks a mixed-race family through rural Mississippi. Jojo is a lonely 13-year-old who helps his grandparents raise his baby sister, while his mother, Leonie, struggles with drug addiction, visions of her dead brother and an obsessive love for Jojo’s white father, recently released from prison. Combining allusions to The Odyssey and The Old Testament with elements of magical realism, Ward has written a book, in the words of Entertainment Weekly, whose “Southern gothic aura recalls the dense, head-spinning prose of William Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor.”

 

The Origin of Others

— by Toni Morrison —

Nobel and Pulitzer-winning Morrison draws on her 2016 Charles Norton Lecture series at Harvard for six essays that try to answer the question, “What is race (other than genetic imagination), and why does it matter?” As she engages with historical events and literary texts, from those of Hemingway to Harriet Beecher Stowe, Faulkner to Flannery O’Connor (and several of her own novels), the author examines the process of “othering” and racial dehumanization. Foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

 

A Legacy of Spies

— by John Le Carré —

Fans of the indubitable master of the spy thriller, David Cornwell, aka, John Le Carré, rejoice: the author has returned with his first George Smiley novel in over 25 years. The focus here is on Smiley’s aged colleague and disciple, Peter Guillam, who has been living on a remote farm in Brittany when a letter from the British Secret Service arrives to summon him to London. It seems his Cold War past has returned to haunt him…The novel deftly weaves past with present, so one may want to revisit its predecessors, including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, first.

 

Tales of Two Americas

— edited by John Freeman —

If the bombast and vitriol of today’s news cycle has gotten you down, or if you’re someone who understands large questions best when they’re distilled to human scale, you may enjoy this collection of essays, longform journalism, short stories, and poetry that addresses contemporary American inequality. Heavy-hitters including Roxane Gay, Joyce Carol Oates, Ann Patchett, and Karen Russell, among others, contribute their insights as they “look beyond numbers and wages to convey what it feels like to live in this divided nation.”

 

Manhattan Beach

— by Jennifer Egan —

This novel recently longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction, from the author whose A Visit From the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and

National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, is a noir-like tale set during WWII. Our heroine is Anna Kerrigan, a young woman who has taken advantage of the employment opportunities that a country at war has newly afforded women, and become the first female diver. One night she runs into an old friend of her father’s, a man who may help her understand the reasons for her father’s disappearance. Publisher’s Weekly raves, “the novel is tremendously assured and rich, moving from depictions of violence to deep tenderness.”

 

The World Goes On

— by Lázló Krasznahorkai —

The Hungarian Krasznahorkai is a favorite of none other than Krauss herself, who calls him “one of the finest writers at work today.” In this collection of what could best be described as short stories, although their form, like many Krasznahorkai tales, defies categorization, a narrator addresses the audience directly before telling 11 stories. Krasznahorkai explains, “Each text is about drawing our attention away from this world, speeding our body toward annihilation, and immersing ourselves in a current of thought or narrative.” A must for those who like their fiction with an overtly philosophical bent.

 

The River of Consciousness

— by Oliver Sacks —

This posthumous collection of essays from the late scientist, bestselling author and polymath explores several of the grand themes with which Sacks engaged throughout his life’s works: memory, time, consciousness, and creativity among them. It is one of two books on which he was working at the time of his death, and includes reflections on misheard words and the importance of Darwin’s botany.

 

Mrs. Caliban

— by Rachel Ingalls —

This reissue of the 1982 novel centers on suburban housewife Dorothy, who, while doing chores and waiting for her husband to return from work, hears a radio announcement warning of a monster that has escaped from the Institute of Oceanographic Research. Naturally, a romance between the lonely woman and the lizard-like creature ensues. Reviewers have compared the book to “King Kong, Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, the films of David Lynch, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, E.T., Richard Yates’ domestic realism, B-horror movies, and the fairy tales of Angela Carter.” How could you resist?

 

Five-Carat Soul

— by James McBride —

From the author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird comes a collection of short stories that treats our “struggle to understand who we are in a world we don’t fully comprehend” with humor and inventiveness. The stories themselves follow, among others, an antiques dealer tracking a toy once commissioned by the Civil War commander, Robert E. Lee; Abraham Lincoln himself; and the members of the titular Five-Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band, each of whom recounts a tale from his entertainingly messy life.

 

 Keeping On Keeping On

— by Alan Bennett —

The man who wrote The History Boys, The Madness of King George and The Lady in the Van returns with his third collection of prose. Included are expanded versions of the diaries he publishes annually in the London Review of Books, and which address fame, public libraries and “tweeness.” He takes witty aim at his public persona: “I am in the pigeonhole marked ‘no threat’ and did I stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork I should still be a Teddy Bear.”

 

Forest Dark 

— by Nicole Krauss —

Krauss’ fourth novel follows two Americans – the wealthy retiree, Jules Epstein, and the Brooklyn novelist, Nicole – as they travel to Israel in search of new meaning. What the LA Review of Books calls Krauss’ “most inward-looking novel” and The Guardian “a brilliant achievement” is a meditation on self-transformation and that which lies beyond the visible world.

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About Author

Anna Storm is a writer, graduate of George Washington University and Brooklyn resident. Most importantly, she’s an obsessive fan of fiction and film, and an unrepentant peanut-butter addict.

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