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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

July 9, 2017

Novels Explore Families From Different Cultures Dealing With Money - Too Much and Not Enough
 
The Windfall by Diksha Basu. This entertaining comedy of manners from  Basu is set in modern India and proves that money - especially a large and unexpected sum - can change people in any culture. The debut novel is an Indie Next pick for July, underscoring its popularity among independent booksellers, and this review from Kelly Morton at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio, offers a nice plot summary:    

"The Jhas are a fairly normal family in Delhi, but when Mr. Jha sells his company for millions and decides to move himself and his wife to a fancy new neighborhood, he sets in motion changes for not only his wife, but also his son studying in New York and his former and future neighbors - changes that are sometimes good, sometimes bad, and uncomfortable either way. Jam-packed with fun and lovable characters, this novel is both a delicious, gossipy indulgence and a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people very different from one another. Those who loved the drama of The Nest will adore this warm, tender, and very funny debut from a fresh new voice."  

While this send-up of social mores will no doubt show up on beaches and at poolsides, this is a summer read with some substance as well, as The Christian Science Monitor recently noted: "The Windfall also manages to seamlessly insert urgent, relevant themes of gender inequity, socioeconomic prejudice and aggression, familial expectations and constrictions, isolation, entitlement, and more." 


Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. The newly published paperback edition of this acclaimed novel would be a hit in any case, thanks to its appe
arance on 2016 Best Books of the Year lists from NPR, The New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, and many more. It was also recently named winner of the prestigious Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction. But the story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy received its biggest marketing boost last month when Oprah Winfrey named it her book club selection for the summer. Although Winfrey's picks are much less frequent than in the heyday of Oprah's Book Club a decade ago, she still has clout and influence. That's good news for many more readers who will driven to a really good book. Here's a brief plot description:

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark's wife, Cindy, also offers Neni temporary work at the family's summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last imagine a brighter future. However, Jende and Neni soon notice cracks in their employers' facades, and then the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
Noted Activist Argues Political Resistance Alone Is Not Enough 
 
No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein. Journalist, activist, and bestselling author Klein is among those who see Donald Trump's presidency as a shock wave that must be understood and confronted. As she herself says in the introduction of her compelling and bestselling new pa perback, "This is one attempt to uncover how we got to this surreal political moment. It is also  an attempt to predict how, under cover of shocks and crises, it could get a lot worse. And it's a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future."   

Klein is no newcomer to all this; she has spent two decades studying political shocks, climate change, and what she calls "brand bullies." In 2007, her book The Shock Doctrine assailed free-market economist Milton Friedman and introduced the concept of "disaster capitalism." Ten years later, she argues that Trump is not an aberration but a logical extension of the worst, most dangerous trends of the past half-century - the very conditions that have unleashed a rising tide of white nationalism the world over.

More importantly, Klein asserts, it is not enough to merely resist, to say "no." Instead, she calls for creation of a road map to reclaim the populist ground and offers ideas for building a platform not just of resistance but of change. In a time when many are feeling helpless
or powerless, Klein's "reverse shock" message offers both a challenge and a sense of hope.  
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WHY THE COLUMN?
Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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