Hut's Place
bookcase
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

November 5, 2019

Diverse Lives of Contemporary Black Women Brought to Life in Award-Winning British Novel
 
  Girl, Woman, Author by Bernardine Evaristo. London-born Evaristo last month became the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize, which she shared this
year with Margaret Atwood. In this, her eighth book, she examines the intersections of identity among a diverse and interconnected group of Black British women. The story paints a vivid portrait of the state of contemporary Britain. In praising Evaristo and her work, the Booker Prize judges wrote, "An impressive, fierce novel about the lives of Black British families, their struggles, pains, laughter, longings and loves . . . Her style is passionate, razor-sharp, brimming with energy and humor. There is never a single moment of dullness in this book and the pace does not allow you to turn away from its momentum." 
 
As is sometimes the case with the Booker and other such international awards, at the time the prize was announced, on October 14 Girl, Woman, Author had not yet been released in the U.S. The good news for interested readers is that a paperback edition arrives in bookstores on Tuesday, November 5, on the heels of a slew of starred reviews from critics both here and in Britain. Here's a brief description from the publisher:
 
"The 12 central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London's funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley's former students, works hard to earn a degree from Oxford and becomes an investment banker; Carole's mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter's lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class."
Former Female Spy  Tackles Terrorism for the CIA  
    
Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by   Amaryllis Fox. Many memoirs, especially ones that describe family strife or formative year struggles, find audiences because they resonate with readers with shared memories or experiences. I can safely say that this  isn't one of those books. It's a riveting and fascinating autobiography that tells an unconventional and probably unique story of a woman who spent most of the first decade of her adult life as a spy for the CIA - Clandestine Service Officer, to be precise - recruited in the early 2000s to keep the world safe from terrorism. Sound familiar? 
 
So how does one get to be a secret agent? Fox was in her last year as an undergraduate at Oxford studying theology and international law when her writing mentor, journalist Daniel Pearl, was captured and beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan. Appalled but galvanized by this brutality, Fox applied to a master's program in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, where she created an algorithm that predicted, with uncanny certainty, the likelihood of a terrorist cell arising in any village around the world. That put her on the CIA'S radar and got her the job offer. Life Undercover is the story of her 10 years in the most elite clandestine ops unit of the CIA, hunting the world's most dangerous terrorists in 16 countries while marrying and giving birth to a daughter.
 
It's worth noting that, while Fox's exploits were harrowing and her personal life challenging (especially with a child), this is  not a tell-all expose. Fox, now in her late 30s and a peace activist married to Robert Kennedy III , said in an interview with NBC News, "I wrote this book to share the lessons I learned in the field about peacemaking and finding common ground. Many think of the CIA as adversarial and war-mongering. My experience was very different. At its best, it's an organization dedicated to the subtle and challenging art of building trust and nurturing relationships to save lives and prevent attacks."   
Join the  
Mailing List to  
Get Hut's Place 
Every Week - No Charge! Or email me at hutlandon@gmail.com asking to be added. 

If You're Already a Subscriber, How About Forwarding to a Friend?

Your e-mail will
never be shared!

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.

I'm not into long, wordy reviews or literary criticism; I'd like HUT'S PLACE to be a quick, fun read for book buyers. If you have any friends who you think might like receiving this column, simply click 
on "Forward this email" below and enter their email address. There is also a box in which to add a short message.
COMMENTS, FEEDBACK                    
I always love hearing from folks, so please feel free to let me know what you're reading, make a comment, or ask a question. Email me anytime.

WHERE TO FIND 
AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

Many of you already have a favorite local bookstore, but for those of you without such a relationship, you can click here to find the
nearest indie bookstore by simply entering your postal code.