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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

July 5, 2020

New Novels Offer Satirical Love Story Set Amidst the Super Rich and Historical Family Saga Set in Hawai'i 
 
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan. The author of Crazy Rich Asians and two popular
sequels offers up a summer romance of a book, once again featuring the uber-rich whose lifestyle Kwan so enjoys skewering. The added fillip here is that this story of a young woman who finds herself torn between two men is written as an modern-day homage to E.M. Forster's A Room With a View
 
We meet the biracial protagonist, Lucie Churchill, at age 19. The daughter of a Chinese American mother and blue-blooded father, she's on the isle of Capri for an extravagant wedding where she meets the charming and gallant George Zao. He's everything she thinks she can't stand, but she finds herself attracted to him nonetheless. Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the White side, so she adamantly tamps down any feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is visiting with her new fiancĂ©, she finds herself drawn to him again.  
Kwan remains a master of satirizing the wealthy, over-the-top lifestyles he writes about so well. This is a romp through the lives of the status-obsessed filthy rich, and if you're in the mood for that, Sex and Vanity won't disappoint.   
 
 
The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama. From the author of Women of Silk and The Samaurai's Garden comes an evocative historical novel about a Japanese-American family set against the backdrop of Hawai'i's sugar plantations. Here's a  brief plot outline:  
 
It's 1935, and Daniel Abe, a young doctor in Chicago, is finally returning to his childhood home in Hawai'i. Awaiting him is Uncle Koji, who lives with the me mories of Daniel's mother, Mariko, the love of his life, and the scars of a life ha rd-lived. He can't wait to see Daniel, whom he's always thought of as a son, but he knows the time has come to tell Daniel the truth about his mother, and his father. But Daniel's arrival coincides with the awakening of the Mauna Loa volcano, and its dangerous path toward their village stirs both new and long-ago passions in their community. Alternating between past and present - from the day of the volcano eruption in 1935 to decades prior - Tsukiyama inter weaves the stories of Daniel, Koji, and Mariko into a compelling and authentic story of family and community.   
 
In its starred review of the novel, Kirkus Reviews wrote: "Through tragedy and joy, Tsukiyama crafts characters whose reliance on each other is their greatest strength, with many strong women leading the way. The dialogue flows easily, and the landscape is rendered with such vibrance that the reader will become fully immersed in the sensory details. Well-paced and lush, this is a captivating historical novel that shows the power of love and human resilience."
Now in Paperback: Two for #MeToo
 
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists  Kantor and Twohey recount the story of their investigation of Harvey Weinstein and its consequences for the #MeToo movement, a striking work of investigative journ alistm that the Washington Post called "All the President's Men' for the Me Too era."

For years, the media had tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women. Rumors of wrongdoing had long circulated, and in 2017, when the two reporters began their investigation for The New York Times, his name was still synonymous with power. But during months of confidential interviews
with actresses, former Weinstein employees, and other sources, many disturbing and long-buried allegations were unearthed, and a web of onerous secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements was revealed. When Kantor and Twohey were finally able to convince sources to go on the record, a dramatic final showdown between Weinstein and The Times ensued - read all about it. 
 
 
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow. In this newly updated edition of the "meticulous and devastating" (Associated Press) account of violence and espionage,  Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost - from Hollywood to Wa shington and beyond. Media organizations use the phrase "catch and kill" when they buy up the rights to a controversial story and then bury it to protect those being accused. It's a practice m ade famous by the National Enquirer and other such tabloids. In his book, Farrow examines this practice and profiles women whose careers and lives were ruined by sexual predators who flourished in Hollywood and were the beneficiaries of catch-and- kill practices.  
 
Sound creepy? It did to reviewer Eliana Dockterman in Time magazine: "The connections between presidents, media moguls, and spies described in Catch and Kill are stranger than fiction. As a novel, it would be a page-turner. As a reported piece of nonfiction, it's terrifying."    
  
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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

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