Members of the Literary Arts Patron Advisory Council know good books when they see them. At a (virtual) meeting of the group last month, these avid readers shared books they have recently loved. We hope you will enjoy this second selection of picks.
The Night Watchman
by Louise Erdrich
From HarperCollins: Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.
“Erdrich delivers a magisterial epic that brings her power of witness to every page…We are grateful to be allowed into this world…I walked away from the Turtle Mountain clan feeling deeply moved, missing these characters as if they were real people known to me. In this era of modern termination assailing us, the book feels like a call to arms. A call to humanity. A banquet prepared for us by hungry people.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, New York Times Book Review
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin’s first published work of fantasy fiction! A world shared by three native humanoid races — the cavern-dwelling Gdemiar, elvish Fiia, and warrior clan, Liuar — is suddenly invaded and conquered by a fleet of ships from the stars. Earth scientist Rocannon is on that world, and he sees his friends murdered and his spaceship destroyed. Marooned among alien peoples, he leads the battle to free this new world — and finds that legends grow around him even as he fights.
“Superior space opera, good vivid fun … short, briskly told, inventive and literate.” —Robert Silverberg, Hugo & Nebula award-winning science fiction author & editor
The Nation City: Why Mayors are Now Running the World
by Rahm Emanuel
From Penguin Random House: In The Nation City, Rahm Emanuel, former two-term mayor of Chicago and White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama, offers a firsthand account of how cities, rather than the federal government, stand at the center of innovation and effective governance. Drawing on his own experiences in Chicago, and on his relationships with other mayors around America, Emanuel provides dozens of examples to show how cities are improving education, infrastructure, job conditions, and environmental policy at a local level.
“Emanuel makes a strong case for the vitality of local governance in an age of dysfunction…Emanuel describes eloquently the importance of city parks… With its command of the details of urban governance and its manifest appreciation for what cities can offer, The Nation City helps us understand why Americans are increasingly looking to mayors for political leadership.” —Mason B. Williams, The New York Times Book Review
The Widows of Malabar Hill
by Sujata Massey
From Soho Press: 1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award-winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating heroine.
“A fascinating setting, an extraordinary new sleuth, and a story that enthralls you–The Widows of Malabar Hill has all three and more. Sujata Massey’s new historical series is absolutely terrific, and you are just going to love Parveen Mistry, India’s first female lawyer.” —Charles Todd, Author of the Ian Rutledge Series and the Bess Crawford Series
by Colum McCann
From Penguin Random House: From the National Book Award–winning and bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin comes an epic novel rooted in the unlikely real-life friendship between two fathers. Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on to the schools their children attend to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate.
“A quite extraordinary novel. Colum McCann has found the form and voice to tell the most complex of stories, with an unexpected friendship between two men at its powerfully beating heart.” —Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
by Mary Roach
From W.W. Norton: The irresistible, ever-curious Mary Roach takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of—or has the courage to ask.
There is much to enjoy about Mary Roach—her infectious aw for quirky science and its nerdy adherents, her one-liners… She is beloved, and justifiably so.” —Jon Ronson, New York Times Book Review
“When he needed to calm his mind, he opened a book. Any book. He had never failed to feel refreshed, even if the book was no good.”Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman