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 Weekly Words about New Books in
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June 16, 2019

A Pair of Compelling Coming-of-Age Novels Arrive in Paperback
 
Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. New York-based Wolitzer is the well-respected author of several novels, including The Interestings. Here she turns a keen eye on feminist movement, telling a coming-of-age story that, among other issues, examines second-generation feminism and the challenges that ambition and the lure of power place on friendships.
   
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at 63, has been a central pillar of the women's movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak, Greer - madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory but still full of longing for an ambition that she can't quite place - feels her inner world light up. And then, somewhat amazingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose by working together, leading the young woman down a decade-long path that tests her relationships with Cory and her best friend Zee while re-shaping her feelings about her mentor. Wolitzer manages to explore subjects like gender roles, classism, and privilege through a feminist lens without straying from an ambitious plot that Kirkus Reviews called "the perfect feminist blockbuster for our times."   
 
 
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. Canadian author Edugyan has created a runaway slave odyssey that is as imaginative and unconventional as you can imagine - part Underground Railroad, part Jules Verne. George Washington Black, or "Wash," an 11-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master's brother as his manservant. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be an explorer, inventor, and abolitionist who takes Wash under his wing. When a man is killed and a bounty is placed on the young slave's head, Christopher and Wash flee in a hot air balloon of the inventor's making. Although the unconventional transport doesn't hold up, the pair eventually find their way to America and continue to travel together, eventually ending up in the Arctic in search of Christopher's long-lost father. At that point, unfortunately, Wash is abandoned by his savior and must fend for himself. Thus begins a new life for a now 13-year-old boy who must learn to survive on his own - a journey that takes him to Nova Scotia and eventually London, where he attempts to track down his mentor and reconcile his rejection.
Indies' #1 Book Pick for June is a Fearless Debut
   
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. This Vietnamese-American writer is best known - up until now - as the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds. But Vuong's debut novel, which has many autobiographical overtones, shows that he is equally accomplished as a writer of fiction. The book's form is a letter written by a son to his illiterate mother, which may conjure up images of a tree falling in an empty forest. But this is not a novel of futility; it is instead a story about the importance of and need for storytelling. This review gives you an idea of why the book was chosen as this month's top Indie Next pick:
 
"Alright 2019, this is the novel to beat. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is the rare novel that makes you experience reading in a slightly different way and shows you that, no matter how many books you've read, something new and uniquely beautiful can still be found. The novel takes the form of a letter written by the main character, Little Dog, to his mother - an immigrant from Vietnam who cannot read. The power of Vuong's poetic writing shimmers with every paragraph, and each phrase is a carefully considered, emotional journey. Grappling with themes of identity, sexuality, addiction, violence, and finding your place in a world where you feel you don't belong, this book already feels like a modern classic, destined to be read and talked about for years to come."  
- Caleb Masters, Bookmarks,  
Winston-Salem, NC 
   
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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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