Nadia Hashimi, Ann Hood, Tom Wolfe, & More | Barbara's Picks, Aug. 2016, Pt. 2

Agee, Jonis. The Bones of Paradise. Morrow. Aug. 2016. 432p. ISBN 9780062413475. $25.99. LITERARY FICTION Ten years after the tragedy at Wounded Knee, where the 7th Calvary slaughtered more than 200 Lakota men, women, and children, white rancher J.B. Bennett and young Native American Star are found murdered on a remote stretch of Bennett’s land. Subsequent events reveal the terrible sins and secrets of the Bennett clan while bringing to the fore Bennett’s estranged wife, dittrichDulcinea, who tries to repair the shattered family, and Star’s sister, Rose, out to avenge her death. With a 75,000-copy first printing; Agee has two New York Times Notable Books to her name. Dittrich, Luke. Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets. Random. Aug. 2016. 480p. ISBN 9780812992731. $28. PSYCHOLOGY In 1953, Yale neurosurgeon William Beecher Scoville performed an experimental operation on 27-year-old epileptic patient Henry Molaison, withdrawing a few scoops of tissue from his brain to control his awful seizures. Though it worked, the cure was as bad as the disease: Molaison was an amnesiac for the rest of his life, with a short-term memory of a scant 30 seconds. As Patient H.M., he also emerged as one of science’s most important human research subjects, with much of our understanding of how memory works deriving directly from the 60 years of testing that followed. National Magazine Award–winning journalist Dittrich brings together the stories of patient and doctor to show how modern neuroscience is rooted in the hidden and sometimes ethically challenged history of psychosurgery. One of the publisher’s big nonfiction books of the summer. Hashimi, Nadia. A House Without Windows. Morrow. Aug. 2016. 432p. ISBN 9780062449689. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062449665. LITERARY FICTION Stunned speechless by her husband’s brutal murder, devoted Afghan wife and mother Zeba is unable to defend herself when she stands accused of the deed by his family and is put in jail. There she meets a teenage runaway, a young woman fleeing an honor killing, and more—all society’s rebels who have found a safe haven of sorts behind bars. Hashimi debuted with the 100,000-copy best-selling The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and followed with When the Moon Is Low, an O, the Oprah Magazine Summer Must-Read pick; with a 50,000-copy first printing. Hood, Ann. The Book That Matters Most. Norton. Aug. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780393241655. $25.99. WOMEN’S FICTION With her 25-year-old marriage suddenly and tumultuously over and her adult children living far, far away, Ava joins a book club partly for companionship. To meet the club’s mission that each hoodannmember present the book mattering the most to her, Ava hunts for a tome that sustained her through childhood trauma while dealing with daughter Maggie’s increasing troubles with a destructive relationship in Paris. The books discussed here range from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Book club bait from the award-winning and New York Times best-selling author; with a six-city tour to New York, Boston, Providence, Portland (ME), Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Lee, Krys. How I Became a North Korean. Viking. Aug. 2016. 256p. ISBN 9780812992731. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399563935. LITERARY FICTION Star student Yongju is from a powerful North Korean family, on-her-lonesome Jangmi scrappily survives by smuggling goods across the border, and Chinese American teenager Danny (also of Korean heritage) is too smart for his own good. They meet in the China–North Korea borderlands, where Jangmi seeks safety for her unborn child and Yongju safety from persecution after his father is killed by the Dear Leader; Danny is escaping the sort of persecution high school can deliver by visiting his missionary mother. Surrounded by thieves, abductors, and government informants, with even the missionaries posing a threat, these young people form their own little family and look to a better life. Lee’s first novel follows the much-heralded Drifting House, winner of the 2012 Story Prize Spotlight Award, and will be grabbed by eager readers. Spiegelman, Nadja. I’m Supposed To Protect You from All This: A Memoir. Riverhead. Aug. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781594631924. $27. MEMOIR Spiegelman is the daughter of Maus genius Art Spiegelman, but her memoir focuses on her mother, the Paris-born Françoise Mouly, longtime art director of The New Yorker. Spiegelman always regarded her mother with awe but grew increasingly frustrated during adolescence as questions about a darkness she sensed in her mother’s past were always met with, “I’m spiegelmansupposed to protect you from all this.” Not until after college did Spiegelman learn about the abiding pain in her mother’s upbringing. Being compared to classic memoirs like Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club. Stillman, Whit. Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated. Little, Brown. Aug. 2016. 112p. ISBN 9780316294126. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780316294133; lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316294140. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. HISTORICAL FICTION As evidenced by his cult favorite Metropolitan, filmmaker Stillman has a fine eye for social niceties, so he should do well with this reworking of Jane Austen's unfinished early novella Lady Susan. In the 1790s, beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon drops in unannounced at her brother-in-law's estate so that she can escape some unpleasant gossip. There, she starts husband hunting for both herself and daughter Frederica, who’s not eager to take the debutante route. Stillman adds narration from a character too, too devoted to the wily Lady Susan. Look for a spring release of a film based on the expanded story and starring Chloe Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, and Stephen Fry; with a 40,000-copy first printing. Wolfe, Tom. The Kingdom of Speech. Little, Brown. Aug. 2016. 160p. ISBN 9780316404624. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316404648; lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316404648. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. SOCIAL SCIENCE Groundbreaking journalist and author of four best-selling novels, including The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe surely has strong opinions about our use of words. Here, he works his way from Alfred Russel Wallace, who thought up the theory of natural selection before Darwin but then renounced it, to contemporary anthropologist Daniel Everett’s upset-the-apple-cart claim that language is not hardwired, to make the eye-popping assertion that human achievement and complex social structure are owing not to evolution but to speech. With a 100,000-copy first printing.  

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