Archive for November, 2020

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

November 30, 2020


The 2020 winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, Interior Chinatown is a darkly funny, moving and unusual novel. The book revolves around Willis Wu, who, like his parents, lives an a Chinatown SRO and is a bit player in the police procedural TV series, Black and White, which frequently films in a nearby Chinese Restaurant. Willis aspires to bigger parts than Generic Asian Man, with his ultimate dream role being Kung Fu Guy. Structured as a screenplay, the book skewers the Hollywood tropes and stereotypes of Asian Americans, while bringing into focus struggles with identity, aging parents, and the meaning of success. This book is deceptively powerful and poignant at times, while also being very funny. You can find the book at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

November 19, 2020


If you loved her first bestselling book “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”, you’ll be totally rapt by this new magical fantasy novel. The Journal Entry format is really clever. And who’s the Other that visits Piranesi from time to time in this infinite labyrinth of halls and staircases? The quest for the Great and Secret knowledge will reveal a terrible truth that finds its source in the journals. And the ending will take you to a whole new place…in your mind. How could the reader be fooled by this magical and imaginary world the whole time? What a performance! You can find Piranesi at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Media of Piranesi

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

November 18, 2020


My first thought when i started reading it was: is this sci-fi in a futuristic, almost end of the world way kind of novel? And then a little farther in, I thought no, I got it wrong, this is more a fantasy novel. In the end I couldn’t really define the exact genre other than fiction, and what a spectacular humanistic one. Franny, traveling to remote ends of the world searching for the last birds, but also so much more than that. And all the characters she encounters are also looking for something else other than just the obvious. What a journey! Migrations is available at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Title details for Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy - Wait list

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

November 16, 2020


It starts with a bank hold-up and a subsequent hostage taking in the middle of an apartment viewing. But does it really? Or does it start way before that on the side of a bridge? A bridge one can see from the apartment balcony…It is really a tour de force about human nature, empathy, forgiveness and hope for the future. I closed the book and have been thinking about it and its hidden messages since then. You can find Anxious People at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Anxious People

Memorial by Bryan Washington

November 6, 2020


Memorial by Bryan Washington is a spare, sensitive, raw, often funny novel that sneaks up on you with its power and depth. It revolves around a young couple, Benson and Mike, who live in Houston. Benson, a Black daycare teacher, and Mike, a Japanese-American chef, are going through a rough patch in their relationship. Things become more strained when Mike decides to go to Japan to care for his estranged, dying father on the same day that his mother arrives for a long visit from Japan. Benson and Mitsuko, who have never met, become awkward roommates while Mike tries to connect with his father in Osaka. The way the book switches between Benson and Mike’s points of view was very effective, particularly given that both Mike and Benson tend to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, and in many ways are mysteries to each other. Benson in particular can be quite aloof and closed off, which is a cause of tension in his relationship with Mike and with his own complicated family. Yet the author manages to make you feel the feelings of these characters in a quiet and almost off-handed way that is quite beautiful at times. I particularly loved the relationship between Benson and Mitsuko. But really there are so many layers of fascinating relationships at work in this book, as well as meditations on deep issues of loss, race, class, and sexuality, all done through small, everyday conversations, and with food. So much is communicated in this book through food! I thought this was a wonderful novel. You can find it at the Library and on Libby/Overdrive.

Book Jacket

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

November 4, 2020

Both Tricia and Patti recommend this book. Here are both of their reviews:

Tricia: There was really no way I wasn’t going to like this book. It contains so many elements that appeal to me – folk tales and witchcraft, the women’s suffrage movement, complicated sister relationships. It takes place in an alternate version of the U.S. in the late 1800s in New Salem, where witchcraft has been seemingly, and brutally, stamped out. But there are rustlings of magic in the air surrounding the emerging fight for women’s suffrage, in the battles of Labor Union organizers, and in the struggle for the rights of Black people. However, when Juniper Eastwood, the youngest of three estranged sisters, arrives in New Salem, that underground magic is suddenly thrust out in the open with potentially catastrophic consequences. This was exactly the book I needed right now – it drew me in immediately and kept me engaged, the characters are interesting and appealing. A great choice for fans of Naomi Novik and Alice Hoffman. The ebook is available on Libby/Overdrive and you can find the book at the Library.

Patti: A very entertaining and magical book about very strong and powerful women. Harrow has taken common fairy tales and twisted them into witchy spells, which the three main characters use to regain and add rights for women.

The Once and Future Witches