What To Read: September & October 2017by Tyler Vitt - Tuesday, Sep 05, 2017 at 11:43am
A collection of recent books particularly recommended by Chris Hall. Look for our in-store What To Read display tables.
This novel’s heart, soul and voice is Madhu, a transgender sex worker in the red-light district of Bombay. Madhu identifies herself as a "hijra" — a person belonging to the third sex, neither man nor woman. Now, at 40, she has moved away from prostitution and is forced to beg to support herself. One day Madhu is given a task: a "parcel" has arrived — a young girl from the provinces — and Madhu must prepare it for its fate. A sometimes difficult read but one that rewards generously. (Vintage. August)
A fun and mind-bending exploration of time travel, from its origins in literature and science to its influence on our understanding of time itself. Gleick explores physics, technology, philosophy, and art as each relates to time travel and tells the story of the concept's cultural evolutions from H.G. Wells to Doctor Who, from Proust to Woody Allen. He takes a close look at the porous boundary between science fiction and modern physics before delving into what it all means in our own moment in time. (Vintage. September)
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Franz Huchel journeys to 1930s Vienna to apprentice at a tobacco shop. The novel initially reads like a fairy tale as the innocent country boy takes in the big city. When Franz falls in love with a music hall dancer he seeks advice from a customer, Sigmund Freud, who admits that the female sex is a big mystery to him as well. But as conditions in Austria worsen with the rise of the Nazis rise, the story takes on a darker tone as the characters are swept into the maelstrom of events. (Anansi. September)
I’m willing to read anything by Zadie Smith. Here, in her latest novel, two brown girls dream of being dancers. But only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. Their childhood friendship ends abruptly in their early twenties, but is never quite forgotten. Full of Smith’s usual exuberance, this novel of ideas works on many levels and is enjoyable on them all. (Penguin. September)
In 1989, Francis Fukuyama wrote a famous essay, entitled "The End of History" that assumed we’d progressed to a more enlightened time. But a quarter century later history has returned. Welsh outlines the reappearance of what many believed had been erased: arbitrary executions, genocide, and the mass movement of refugees. Above all, she reminds us that our liberal democratic society depends on individual citizens to take an active role in its preservation and growth. (Anansi. September)
Íso, a young Guatemalan woman working at a fertility clinic, is briefly the secret lover of the married American resident doctor. But he returns home before Íso can disclose her pregnancy. After the birth of her daughter, the baby is taken from her. When Íso learns her child is in America, she makes her way north determined to reclaim her baby. With its themes of dislocation and disruption, of power and vulnerability, Stranger ranks with Bergen’s best. (HarperCollins. September)
Upon arrival in London, a young Irish girl begins her life anew as a drama student. Struggling to to make friends, she meets an attractive older man. He's an established actor twenty years her senior, and the clamorous relationship that ensues is one that will change her forever. But it’s the language that’s truly remarkable in this novel. Full of fits and starts at the beginning, it slowly finds its momentum as the story develops. (Emblem. August)
We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules. But as O'Neil reveals in Weapons of Math Destruction, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they're wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination. Welcome to the dark side of Big Data. (Broadway. September)
In the wake of his parents' death, a divorce, and his retirement, Jules Epstein travels to Tel Aviv with a nebulous plan to honour his parents by giving away his possessions. At the same time, a young novelist arrives. Troubled by writer's block and a failing marriage, she hopes to unlock a dimension of reality that has been closed off to her. Full of wisdom and humour, this is a profound novel of selfrealization. (HarperCollins. September)
In this emotionally profound novel set in rural contemporary America, Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and occasionally their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm in Mississippi. Leonie is haunted by visions of her dead brother; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household. Ultimately, the story grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story, and the power and limitations of the bonds of family. (Simon & Schuster. September)
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