This 1988 novel was "rediscovered" here this summer when its 84-year-old author came to Seattle for an evening at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. This beautifully written story, set in 1929 and much turbulence, tells of a man whose world is turned upside down when he's arrested and put in prison—by mistake. His complicated life—love life and otherwise—comes to the surface as part of his ordeal. A novel of subtle surprises and delights.
The only of Tarun Tejpal's novels available in the U.S., this is a searing, soaring, viscerally powerful story of a marriage, a place, and how two fully realized people live and work and struggle to be together. Very present, but also allusive, it is also sensually rich and vivid. An excellent "big" read—Tarun Tejpal was a fabulous speaker at SAAM's Eye on India program in July of 2011.
NOT by Arundhati Roy, but by Anuradha Roy, a wonderful debut novelist.
This story of romance thwarted and romance ultimately found spans years and both urban and rural locales in a vividly rendered Bengal. With beautiful writing, an assured narrative voice, and finely developed characters, this novel helps show how in Rumi's words, "longing is the core of mystery," the mystery of the heart.
Isabel Wilkerson has written the most wonderful, heartbreaking, heartmaking book with her well-researched, beautifully written account of the Great Migration of African Americans to points northwest in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. She unites the disunity people's lives, no matter the difficulties, in both small and grand measure.
This captivating beautifully made volume of performed poetry introduces readers to one Sahilja Patel, a third generation Kenyan of Indian descent. She explores—and explodes—the historical, literary, personal, and political terrain of colonization, empire, and migration to powerful, revelatory ends.
Peter Lewis' debut whodunit, a heady blend of murder mystery and wine culture intrigue, is set in the Napa Valley and Côte d'Or. Wine-wise but a little world weary, Babe Stern knows how to use a corkscrew and finds himself on the trail of someone who did wrong. A wonderful book. Here's to this—clink—and more to come.
Ta-Nehisi Coates' memoir is a coming-of-age story, set in inner-city Baltimore, at once hearkening to landmark memoirs of identity in the '60s but with its own unique power and footing in this perilous time. An amazing account of his relationship with his father marks this unforgettable tale.
Shahrier Mandanipour's first novel to be published in the US is a beautiful, funny, haunted and haunting exploration of love and language, limits and limitlessness, the timely and the timeless. Highly recommended.
Marie Étienne's King of A Hundred Horsemen is the US debut of a major French author. A work of pieces that work as a whole, this links people and places lived around the world in vivid, brilliant ways.
A funny, rueful, knowing memoir of living and working in Seattle for the past few decades. There are the changes of one's life and the changes of one's place - this book tells of Seattle's ups, downs, and all-arounds better than any other single book of this whole period of time in Seattle.
This bookstore was in its infancy when an unusual first novel by a fellow who’d been known in these parts as a newspaper art critic—and then a newspaper headline writer -- took off, finding readers largely by word of mouth. Its sales would help float the little boat this store was then. The story of Another Roadside Attraction is but one of many of wonder spun by the most colorful metaphor maker and asserter of allegories this corner of the continent has seen. Tom Robbins takes readers from 1930s small-town North Carolina to military school in Virginia, to all kinds of memorable places and people encountered in over eighty years of a life even more richly imagined and lived than written—which makes it something special beyond mere words, indeed. It’s the sweetest, tastiest piece of autobiographical writing ever to come from these parts, out of an oven or otherwise. Laughter, yes, and a reflective thoughtfulness that will endear this enduring writer evermore. Long live!
Informed in a letter that his dead father, a member of the Indian police during colonial times, participated in improper treatment of civilians under his control, Bart Moore-Gilbert is both devastated and determined to find out the whole story. His search takes him across much of India, back into past records and archives, and into the present-day state of affairs. India as it is becomes more vivid and clear to author and reader for troubled aspects of its colonized past and its complicated, independent present.
One of those rare novels so assured and singular in voice that it almost seems besides the point to say it's a debut (and yet it is), Natashia Deón's Grace is a powerful tale of two generations of women, and those in their lives, over a nation-defining period of American history. This is when slavery was fought for and ended. This is also when tribulation and hardship did not end just because slavery finally did. The sparks of determination, resilience, aspiration, hope, and, yes, grace, all burn, even against great odds, helping light the way. Set 150 years and more ago, Grace carries strong resonance and meaning for us today.
Ever since her 1991 book, Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams’s books and Elliott Bay-related visits have been lodestones for what this bookstore is. Her largest, most grand-scaled book yet is this gorgeous volume devoted to a dozen U.S. National Parks, delving into natural and human history and encounters. The presence and witness she brings to bear in all her writing is in expansive, insightful, intimate, engaged form here. Hers is a singular voice, drawing people together with beauty and necessity.